Honky Please: The Origin of Honky

honky
/’hôngkē/
noun

a derogatory term used by black people for a white person or for white people collectively

“When watching a honky dance, look for the open-mouthed overbite and the closed eyes.”

Honky_Cat_(Elton_John_album_-_cover_art).jpg

Honky Cat? Yes!

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it a thousand more times, there is not a good racial slur for the white man. It is unfortunate that we must settle for honky. By definition, I, Sung Mo Koo, Korean and not black, cannot technically use the word. I suppose there is cracker, white trash, whitey, redneck, hillbilly, hick, Yank, bumpkin, peckerwood, and other lame jabs, but let’s face it, none of these words have the impact to harm and hurt.


Some claim that honky comes from the form of music called honky tonk, an onomatopoeic reference to the loud, boisterous music and noise heard at these establishments. This is a stupid assessment. It’s like calling jazz and blues musicians bluesy or jazzy. It defines without being harmful. What kind of bullets are those for a racist’s gun? Pretty shitty ones.

Others claim that it was a shortening of the word Hungarian, which is lame and a stretch of a diphthong or two. To this, I call bullshit.

An observation: If I, as cited earlier, a mostly Korean born in America man, am called a honky, I take greater offense than the common white man. Yet, if you called a Caucasian a gook, nip or slant, he or she just looks at you blankly. This is the power of privilege. I’m certain I will say this many more times, it must be pretty nice to be the white man.

Here’s the origin story of honky I believe to be true. Back in the jazz age, white folks in New York would drive to Harlem to purchase drugs. They would park their car in the street and proceed to honk the horn to indicate their presence and their need for the weed or horse. Some drug dealer must have said, “Hey, honky’s here, someone go down there and sell honky his damn drugs.” I like how it demeans the white man as lazy cowards who won’t step out of their cars.

I could not find anything on the internet that supports this story. I gathered this information from either reading between the lines of a jazz documentary or an old black man. Both are much better sources than the world wide web.

Honk

One thought on “Honky Please: The Origin of Honky

  1. Pingback: Erratum Update | The Home Of DJ Sung Mo Koo

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