Try to think of a word, a label, an epithet, that can be applied to White people with anything like the force the N word has, or spic. Old terms like Dago and Wop for Italians or Micks for the Irish have lost their steam because those people have become “White.” Only the Jews still suffer from Kike and Jew-Boy and the rest.
It all has to do with power. One might take offense at Red-Neck or Trailer-Trash or even Hill Billy, but not much because it has no force of customary oppression behind it. The other three ethnicities can still find themselves on the receiving end of a police bullet or subtle exclusion from promotions or even entry into some spheres.
The old word for Whites are seldom heard: Ofay. Michelle Obama was accused of using the word Whitey, but I’ve never heard a Black person use that nor have I heard Honky, ever, except on a college campus. Gringo sure doesn’t stir up images of White bodies hanging from trees. Peckerwood is still used in a pejorative sense but I haven’t heard Paddy in a while and it is not really very pejorative. Most Black people use just “White guy.” That’s usually enough to get the picture, but it certainly have little valence.
It’s all about the power. The power to hurt, to exclude, to disadvantage, to injure, to incarcerate, to fine, to kill. All White people can point to is the Tawana Brawley case and what a horrible anti-White person the Reverend Al Sharpton is. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!
As Rick Mulvaney would say: Get over it.
I heard “Where ya going, honkey?” as I walked across Brooklyn in 1986. But nothing came of it.
My observations are limited by being White myself so people may not say things around me they ordinarily say and I live out West and Honky may be an Eastern term.
The first limitation is not so great b/c of the intimate relations I have had with Black people over the decades. The second may be greater b/c I’ve often wondered if Honkey came from the old term Bohunk – a combination of Bohemian and Hungarian, I would guess. That would make more sense back East.
I would also, in your particular instance, wonder if the person was a self-appointed militant or, as we would say nowadays, “woke”, and had picked up the term. Honky probably does have legitimate origins; I just don’t recall any African-American using the term seriously, as a kind of epithet.
Thanks for the example.
It turns out one person every year or so responds to one of my entries but I can count on you to do so. Thank you.