It means “a part of a city, esp. a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups.” But over time, “ghetto” has become synonymous with all things related to stereotypical black, urban or hip hop culture. A rap song? A bag littered with designer logos? Talking loud on your phone while chewing gum? “So ghetto!”

Urban Dictionary describes it as a “word which rich white girls use to describe almost everything thats not clad with lily polos and pearls. “Look how ghetto I look!” Muffy said as she put on her Gucci sunglasses.”

It’s time the phrase gets buried.

It’s a term that stereotypes and lampoons a culture and is wrought with racial implications. Now instead of acting “black,” or “poor,” because those terms aren’t politically correct, people substitute the word “ghetto” and it’s suddenly acceptable.

“Ghetto” isn’t seen as racially charged. So it’s safe for someone to use it to degrade, shame and humiliate a race of people without being held accountable for it.

“Ghetto” also makes the problematic assumption that people of a certain socioeconomic status all act the same way. The thinking goes “ghetto” people are poor and therefore, uncouth, classless, ignorant, combative and lacking of social graces.

If viral personalities like “Sweet Brown,” and mud-slinging, drink-throwing VH1 reality stars are the new minstrel characters, “ghetto” is the new racist slur used to describe them.

22 Comments

  1. It isn’t just white people that use this word in a negative light. I actually have a friend (black) who is always using the term to describe people who look, act, and dress a certain way. It is really annoying because look, I don’t condemn certain behavior but when it is used all the damn time I feel like as a black person it is just another way to feel superior; like you are above those who come from those environments. I admit I used ‘ghetto’ often in highschool but now as a grown woman I no longer do so. It is rather degrading to say the least…..

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    • And my previous comment was meant to be directed at Nicole’s story of the girl with the pencils. I can just imagine that scenario.

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  2. Ghetto_Risen

    I was at work the other day, and one of my white female coworkers was telling a few of us about her vacation trip to Philadelphia, she says” I was iffy about going at first, because its just so damn ghetto there, but it ended up not being that bad” I looked at her and said “honey you wouldn’t know ghetto if it was staring you in the face” I paused, and then stared at her for a while.” Like I said, u wouldn’t know ghetto if it was “staring” you in the face” And walked away. My family comes from “the ghetto” and we have all migrated ao far from those times. This girl was just throwing around this world as to describe something negative and unpleasant yet it was something she could not connect with. But that word hits home to me. It describes a time and place in my life, and she could not see this ghetto girl if it was staring her in the facccce….Know my struggle before you judge someone or something, or place with the word GHETTO.

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  3. CallThemOut

    Eh, I’ll continue calling out ghetto as I see fit and anyway “ratchet” is the new “ghetto”,
    used by ghetto people who have never seen the word outside of its new usage. I wonder who made it “cool”, a rapper or trash tv-er? I know someone out there knows;-)

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