The intersection of race and class. In Chicago. In the late 1960s. That’s the backdrop of a memoir (rather cheekily) titled “Hey, White Girl!” written by Susan Gregory (Norton, 1970).
In the book, teenage Susan transfers from well-heeled, suburban New Trier High School to attend infamous-even-then Marshall High School on Chicago’s West Side for her senior year.
What’s notable about this book is that save certain specificities (slang, style of dress, et al), the story would probably play out identically today: that’s how little race and class lines have shifted since then in the Windy City.
There are many notable moments in the book: some poignant, some funny, some perfect slices of Sixties Chicago.
“What jam can I mash on you?” the disc jockey asked… The words, the phrases were endless. But I learned them, and slowly they became my own…
…A “humbug” was a fight. A “box” was a record player. “The hawk” referred to the wind… Marshall and WVON helped me build my vocabulary. — from Hey, White Girl
Find a copy, if you dare. Definitely worth the search. It’s wild.
October 9th, 2010 at 6:07 am
How did she end up at Marshall?
October 9th, 2010 at 6:52 pm
Hey, Frankye… The Gregory Family were Civil Rights activists who decided to sell their North Shore home to move into the Ecumenical Institute on the city’s West Side. The Institute was a Religious Commune that collectively worked to help solve social ills in the surrounding community, known as Fifth City. Pretty intense stuff.