Thursday, October 6, 2011

Like white on rice

Honky . . . a favorite word used by George Jefferson in the 70’s sitcom.  Mr. Jefferson was moving on up to the east side; to a de-luxe apartment in the sky who finally got a piece of the pie.

Honky . . . a word used by blacks to refer to whites.  It’s not particularly harsh sounding considering it’s a racial slur . . . it’s actually a funny word. 

The origin of this word could be a twist on words from the native language of two distinct groups . . . one from immigrants, the other from slaves.

Honky may be a variation of hunky, which was a variant of Bohunk, This was a derogatory term for Bohemian, Hungarian, and Polish immigrants that in the early 1900’s.  According to a couple of sources, black factory workers picked up the term from white workers and began applying it indiscriminately to all white folks and it caught on.

Honky may also have derived from the African term "xonq nopp" (the ‘x’ is pronounced as an ‘h’) which literally means "white person". The term may have originated with Wolof-speaking slaves brought to the US.

Maybe because it’s more colorful, I’m going with that the word honky dates back to the 1920’s.  Supposedly, the word came about because of the practice of white men who would venture into the red light districts seeking to pick of African-American prostitutes.  Those parts of town weren’t necessarily the best of areas. So the theory is that the curb-crawlers were afraid to stop their cars and would honk their car horns to draw the hookers to them.  Eventually, black people started to call the johns “honkies” and it became a part of the common vernacular.

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