Ratchet Definition via Tumblr

Ratchet Definition via Tumblr

Trying to explain what “ratchet” means to a group of non-black friends (bi-racial, Indian, and Filipino to be exact) was more difficult than carrying two cups of water through the desert without drinking any. It was like talking to a brick wall. They were convinced that being ratchet is a mix of “charisma, not caring about what people think of you, and having an I don’t give a fu*k attitude,” in their exact words.

Ratchet is such a common word it can be used to describe just about anything:

You have a cart full of groceries, yet you’re in the express 15-item line… #ratchet

You get into an argument with someone at a red light because they didn’t let you over… #ratchet

You’re late to the morning meeting at work and you come in and decide to finish eating your homemade breakfast from a tupperware container… #ratchet

You see ratchet can be just about anything. However the label mainly falls on a black women who are boisterous, obscene, or easily volatile. One quick internet search of the term ratchet will reveal a slew of self-made videos, pictures, and comments about or geared towards mainly black women. The problem is the ever-growing trend of being ratchet is not only acceptable but it’s glamorized. It’s safe to say the term derived from the desensitizing and entertainment programming of girl-fighting, bottle tossing, hair pulling, verbally abusing, and global humiliation that is reality TV. Not everyone thinks or associates all black women with being ratchet…but the reality is globally this is how we are seen through the lens of reality TV and worldwide viral videos.

The term “ratchet” as comical of a word as it is, is so closely associated with black women that it can potentially taint the perspective of a man’s interest in dating a black women and skew her image in society overall. After countless examples of how the term ratchet is a huge detriment to black women, I kindly informed my group of diverse friends that calling me ratchet is the equivalent of calling me “ghetto.”

By the time the conversation ended, we all came to the conclusion that on the surface ratchet is the new word for “ghetto” and beyond the surface ratchet is nothing more than the new public display of people willing to subject themselves to coonery.


  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    seriously.it’s so frustrating when most people associate you with this foolishness.so many other black people embrace being “ratchet” and take “i don’t care about what anybody thinks of me” too far. there is no more self respect or pride amongst the majority of black people anymore. it’s an actual shock to see another black person who wants to be seen as a decent member of society. his “i dont care” attitude is killing us!

    It’s definitely pitiful when you’re considered a “sell out” or accused of “acting white” just because you don’t act like a stereotype. it’s getting ridiculous!

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    On the same point – the author explains to a bunch of non black people certai behaviors, which they characterize positively, then she has to go and say no actually its bad and derogatory to black women, and that’s how ack women are seen by thewhole world. Clealry, by that slice of ‘the whole world’ represented by her non-black friends, no one but her is seeing black women in a derogatory light. Stop projecting negativity back on urself. Do you, enjoy it, be ‘boisterous’ or be timid – but do it for you and forget everyone else. And maybe that’s a ‘ratchet’ sentiment… But if ratchet is a lack of embarrassment, then i’ll be that.

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