Thursday, March 29, 2007

you know you're ghetto when...




this morning, i was driving to work, and i heard an interview on NPR about a new book out called ghetto nation:a journey into the land of bling and home of the shameless. it immediately rubbed me the wrong way. why? because it reminded me of a party invite i'd received:


Wine and Cheese Party!

I can't figure out voting buttons on this one, but I'd really like your opinion on whether or not this will be "Traditional" or "Non-Traditional" (a.k.a. "Ghetto"). "Traditional" will be dress-up (semi-casual?) and "Non-Traditional" will be dress-down ghetto style. Whichever has the most votes will be the one we do. (There's also a floating suggestion of "Ghetto Wine & Cheese", which entails boxed wine, Boone's Farm, Velveeta cheese, Kraft singles, if that's what you prefer.) I'll update all the "Accepts/Tentatives" next week once this has been figured out.

To which i replied:


Good afternoon all,

Let me preface this by saying that I am sure no harm was meant by this email, however, I feel the need to respond because I was somewhat offended by it. The use of the term "ghetto" is typically inferring "black" or more appropriately the ignorant stereotypes perpetrated by mainstream media that have come to be widely accepted as being representative of what it means to be "black," and as a conscious African American woman, I would prefer that these ideas, thoughts and notions are not allowed to be continually spread. Some may think that I am over reacting, however, when you read "dress-down ghetto style" what exactly is implied? What you have seen in music videos is not representative of who we are as a people and to caricature that stereotype is no better than the performers who wore black face in the day of the minstrel show. It is time that people start to be aware of their words and think about what may seem harmless and fun, and how that may be perceived by people of another culture/race, etc. Furthermore, to describe the type of food associated as "ghetto"..." Boone's Farm, Velveeta cheese, Kraft singles" all things associated as low class, cheap, and tacky, I was just disappointed.

I have to reiterate that I am sure that no one on this list had any bad intentions whatsoever, however, that is when it is most dangerous/hurtful, because it was completely unintentional. Thanks for listening, I mean no offense, I just felt it necessary to call it on the carpet.

a friend of mine summed up my feelings on the issue perfectly when he said:






Aside from the obviously polarizing juxtaposition of the term ghetto and
the stigma of sophitication associated with a damn wine tasting, they make said
class bias even more obvious when coupling the term ghetto with non-traditional
and name dropping obviously unfitting brands for a wine tasting.



During the interview, the author gave the following examples for "ghetto":




  • naming your child after your favorite brand name product "lexus, cartier, etc."


  • adding 'ed' to words that are already conjugated properly such as 'tasteded'


She proceeded to describe a portion of her research where she "went to malls and talked with teenagers about what it meant to be ghetto" and went on to state that ghetto is not race, or class specific, "martha stuart and paris hilton can be just as ghetto as lil kim or nelly, ghetto is a state of mind." she described it as "the glorification of the negative or underwhelming." she then went on to relate the tale of a young boy she had seen who just looked "different" from the other children in a brooklyn ghetto, and ignorant to the clothing trends, she couldn't quite place what it was, and it turned out that the boy was "poor and his parents were living within their means, you don't see that a lot." i could go on and on about this interview, but you should just listen to it yourself and be the judge. i feel like ms. daniels got it all wrong, but then again, maybe i should read the book.

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