HUSTLING AND OTHER HARD WORK: Life Styles in the Ghetto by Bettylou Valentine

HUSTLING AND OTHER HARD WORK: Life Styles in the Ghetto

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This book is about the everyday lives of real people,"" writes anthropologist Charles Valentine in the introduction to his wife's study of ghetto life. Unfortunately, the book has an air of unreality because names are changed for the sake of privacy--not just people's names, but even the locale itself. ""Blackston,"" we learn, is ""a named district of a large northern city"" where Bettylou Valentine, a black anthropologist (currently at the University of Papua-New Guinea), lived with her white husband and their son from 1968 to 1973 collecting data for her doctoral dissertation. Valentine's study offers familiar details with little new insight. The ""hustling"" of the title is what it takes to survive--""a wide variety of unconventional, extralegal activities often frowned upon by the wide community,"" like numbers-running, dealing in ""hot"" goods, stripping cars or abandoned buildings. Of greater interest are Valentine's few personal thoughts about her own life in this ghetto. She went in believing that her education and wide experience would make life easier for her than for ""Blackston"" natives, but this turned out to be false. Problems of housing, Welfare, education, etc. ""do not stem from individual actions or lack of actions,"" she says, but are ""structural and institutional issues."" The Valentines' personal story--particularly as an interracial couple--might have made a more significant chronicle.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan