What Exactly Makes Something… “Ghetto”?

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I’ll never forget an episode of The Real World in Hollywood that I was watching a few years back. In it, two housemates got into an argument about the house rules and having a certain amount of people in the house. When housemate Brianna (who was allegedly mixed) questioned why she couldn’t bring two people in the house that could supposedly help the musically talented cast members, the young lady Kimberly (who just so happened to be white as I like to say) said to her, “Let’s not get ghetto…let’s just be normal…” Really? Although Kimberly was the first to raise her voice in the situation and behave in the way she was trying to describe Brianna as in that moment, she had the nerve to call someone “ghetto.” And to top it off, girlie said this to someone else when talking about Brianna: “I don’t care if you’re from the most inner-city blackville, don’t get ghetto with me.” I was more than too through.

I’m also not a fan of a lot of black folks throwing the word around either to be honest. Anybody for that matter. While I’m not a lover of hairstyles that are Kool-Aid colors or nails with 3D creatures on them, just because someone makes the decision to rock that mess with confidence doesn’t automatically make me think of them as ghetto. A bit tacky? Maybe. Ghetto? No. A wild form of artistic expression doesn’t have to automatically equate with being from anywhere. And in my eyes these days, to say “that’s so ghetto” or to use ghetto to describe someone is to not only insinuate that a person who is actually living in the ghetto always acts and looks the utmost fool, but it also is a sign that you’re trying to look down on them. For that reason alone, I’ve never been a fan of the g-word because it’s such a loaded one. And because of that, we all need to crack open that same Merriam-Webster dictionary (they’re cheap, I promise) and find better words to express ourselves and other people. To do otherwise isn’t “ghetto,” but just straight up “ignant.” And no, I didn’t find that one in the dictionary.

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