Now I’m no stranger to using the word ghetto, but I have found that throughout my life when I hear someone being referred to as ghetto by another race, they are almost always black. I believe this is becoming an acceptable racial slur; the new way to basically refer to someone as being a nigger, because there is no understanding of the various intersections that make up black people. I am quite sick of it, normally I just fall silent when I hear this word used to describe someone of my race (by someone who is not black) and I use various passive aggressive techniques such as: awkward silence, my own special kind of stank eye or I will just leave and not express my disdain for the word when I get the “what’s wrong” or “are you alright”. This passive aggressive response is generally not in my very direct nature, I often do not let myself react how I normally would because I could never pin down why I was so bothered, then I would put the blame on my self for being “too sensitive” instead of expressing myself in confusion.
What is ghetto? This word has many different meanings depending on the person’s mouth it is coming out of, but to me it has always been a display of some combination of tacky, over-the-top and ignorance.. in various degrees. I am assuming that most people who are Black and raised in America have some type of understanding of our own culture and it’s fluidity. I believe that this is why there is a difference in the word use between black people and some non-black people. There is such a grossly distorted image of Black people displayed in the media that when a Black person displays behavior that I would refer to as “ghetto” or “tacky, over-the-top, ignorance” it is seen as a typical characteristic of Black people. That describes my problem when I hear Non-Black people refer to a Black person as “ghetto”, this is full of implied negative racial stereotypes. I would have no problem with the word, if I heard it equally used to describe tacky, over-the-top, ignorance throughout our racial rainbow of people in America; but it is not.
I can’t let this slide anymore… Now, this does not mean that I will yell and scream at any Non-Black person that uses the word to describe black people, but I will ask questions. I will ask what their definition of “ghetto” is, why haven’t I heard them refer to Non-Blacks as “ghetto” and I will explain my point of view of the word and why I am offended by their use of it. Now, there are some friendships that won’t survive this and some that may never blossom because of this..but I am guessing the ones that will wilt, had faulty foundations to begin with. I will be better off in the absence of those relationships. Let me be clear, I am not saying that everyone that is not Black ,that calls a Black person “ghetto” is racist and calling them a nigger. I am saying that in many of my observations of the use of “ghetto” by Non-Blacks , nigger is this word’s unwritten definition and Black is the unwritten rule of who it can be used to describe.