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.

Definition?

  • Tracy

    Blacks will always find a new way to disrespect themselves, It used to be a time when I would laugh but I can’t laugh at this foolishness anymore hate to say we’re such a pitiful group of people.

  • L

    I know everyone won’t agree but to me, ratchet is a colorless word. Heading to the bank on break i saw a woman white as snow and looking ratchet as ever. If you choose to associate ratchet with black women, maybe that is what you subconsciously think of black women as a whole. Me, personally, I know better. and I know ratchet comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, pay grades, and more.

    Even in this article, the author’s friends were trying to tell her how they percieved the term ratchet and what did she do?…. associate it with black women.
    “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.””

    WE.DO.THIS.Sh!t.TO.OURSELVES!

  • mh

    Don’t stereotype yourself / ourselves. A segment does not represent the whole. Even particular acts of being “ratchet” don’t entirely define someone. That nonsense on reality TV is terrible, but don’t mistake those programs for representation of the diverse African American subcultures. Those TV producers are as “ratchet” as the reality TV actors.

  • Kay

    I am so tired of this “trend.” It seems exceptionally raced/classed/gendered and I don’t like it. It’s all predicated on who deems what to be appropriate, and usually the people doing the deciding are (surprise!) the ones in power. It’s funny that what was deemed “ratchet,” or close to it in the 80′s you see all the young starlets, celebs, and privileged cool kids from the burbs doing it now. It’s all about creating divisive labels and categorizing. I’m over it.

  • Guest1234

    I completely agree. Also, I’m so over the concept of black women’s professional/personal/romantic fortunes being tied to any old fool, just ‘cuz they’re black, too.

    When meeting people, I expect them to respond to me and not to some fool they saw on TV somewhere who happens to be black too. And, you know what? That’s what people do. Nobody’s looking at me and seeing the basketball wives. So, what’s with all the hand-wringing and fear that Nene Leakes somehow represents all black women? Do you have a blonde rug sitting atop your head? Are you snapping off and dancing on poles and such? If not, then nobody’s looking at you and seeing Nene. Do you go into your office and look at your white co-workers and see Honey Boo Boo’s mom? And treat them like it? No. So why do we expect people to treat us like some real-life reality show character? Unless they’re trash, people don’t do that. So we really need to stop: 1) associating OURSELVES with that mess, and 2) expecting others to see that in each of us.

    That’s plum ridiculous. It’s time to move on, folks. Leave the ratchet folks alone. They really don’t have anything to do with you, and they’re not really causing any problem. If girlie with the blue weave and the too-tight thong wants to present herself that way, who the heck are we to tell her she shouldn’t? She’s not hurting you. So get over it. To each her own. Live and let live, folks.

  • Tracy

    How is it colorless when it’s bw that says this more than other women?

  • http://gravatar.com/yesimthatleah Yes, I’m That Leah

    Hi L. I agree 100%. The term can apply to any American, but people associate the term with black women, first and foremost, loke you said—WE DO THIS **** TO US! I mean, it doesn’t help matters that we have a popular black singer who is making “ratchetness” the theme for her upcoming album and whose “ratchet” single just leaked.

    Catering to a “ratchet” fanbase…..Lord! How embarrassing. How can things get better if we have blacks in entertainment constantly reinforcing negative stereotypes of black women and men?

  • http://gravatar.com/yesimthatleah Yes, I’m That Leah

    Hi L. I agree 100%. The term can apply to any American, but people associate the term with black women, first and foremost, loke you said—WE DO THIS **** TO US! I mean, it doesn’t help matters that we have a popular black singer who is making “ratchetness” the theme for her upcoming album and whose “ratchet” single just leaked.

    Catering to a “ratchet” fanbase…..Lord! How embarrassing. How can things get better if we have blacks in entertainment constantly reinforcing negative stereotypes of black women and men?

  • MommieDearest

    I’m still trying to figure out how, and WHY, the word for a type of wrench used to tighten and loosen sockets has been so disrespectfully reappropriated.

  • http://gravatar.com/yesimthatleah Yes, I’m That Leah

    Please forgive my typos.

  • dirtychai

    So am I!
    I just caught on to the term a few months ago and asked some of my less educated friends what the correlation was. They just laughed and called me lame, so I never spoke on it again.

  • Hear Me

    Oh so I guess you thought that people were acting like upstanding citizens before the word “ratchet” came into popularity?

    Why don’t we stop shaming Black people for doing things that other non-White people do too? The only thing Black people are guilty of is being judged more harshly by society for everything and anything that they do.

  • Blaze

    You’re talking about Beyonce and her new album? Why are you avoiding ratchet Rihanna?

  • Misshightower

    For gawd’s sake, can’t we just put this word to bed and move on. We obsess about the damnest things!!!

  • Nope

    A lot of entertainers are not really bright. They don’t care about anything but money. Black entertainment in my opinion has done nothing but reinforce racist stereotypes about black people all the while laughing at them and thinking they are funny. Maybe there wouldn’t be so many “ratchets” if that behavior weren’t glorified, but disrespectful behavior in men and women is glorified in entertainment, and people underestimate he power the media has in influencing people to do this and that.

    As Tracy said, black people stay finding ways to disrespect themselves. It’s pathetic.

    But I am so over this word. When those dudes made that video, everyone started saying it.

  • 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!

  • Ads

    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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