She's Not There

Border Crossings and Their Impact on the Surrounding Society: How Breaking the Boundary of Race Poses a Bigger Threat to Others than a Crossing of Class or Gender Would College

Within any society, there are borders that separate all of the citizens of the populace into different classifications. Among those borders are race, class, and gender. Crossing any of these borders stands as a great accomplishment for the person undertaking the challenge. Unfortunately, however, any feat of crossing a border -- whether in terms of race, as W.E.B. Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk, class, as Dalton Conley in Honky, or gender, as Jenny Boylan in She’s Not There -- is viewed as a threat to the surrounding population. Passage over a racial boundary is generally perceived as the greatest threat to those in the vicinity of the crossing.

Refuting the belief that anyone can “get ahead” in life by moving up to another class, Conley writes in his memoir, Honky, that only wealth can help someone move up in terms of class. Living among minorities while associating with the white population, Conley witnessed firsthand life in both the lower and upper-middle classes. As an adolescent, Conley’s best friend, Michael Holt, and his family were affluent and able to live in the upper-middle class: “Honesty and household morality were such a given that the Holts could move on to a more ambitious agenda. They often went to, spoke...

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