Month: March 2007

you know you’re ghetto when…

this morning, i was driving to work, and i heard an interview on NPR about a new book out called ghetto nation:a journey into the land of bling and home of the shameless. it immediately rubbed me the wrong way. why? because it reminded me of a party invite i’d received:Wine and Cheese Party!

I can’t figure out voting buttons on this one, but I’d really like your opinion on whether or not this will be “Traditional” or “Non-Traditional” (a.k.a. “Ghetto”). “Traditional” will be dress-up (semi-casual?) and “Non-Traditional” will be dress-down ghetto style. Whichever has the most votes will be the one we do. (There’s also a floating suggestion of “Ghetto Wine & Cheese”, which entails boxed wine, Boone’s Farm, Velveeta cheese, Kraft singles, if that’s what you prefer.) I’ll update all the “Accepts/Tentatives” next week once this has been figured out.

To which i replied:

Good afternoon all,

Let me preface this by saying that I am sure no harm was meant by this email, however, I feel the need to respond because I was somewhat offended by it. The use of the term “ghetto” is typically inferring “black” or more appropriately the ignorant stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media that have come to be widely accepted as being representative of what it means to be “black,” and as a conscious African American woman, I would prefer that these ideas, thoughts and notions are not allowed to be continually spread. Some may think that I am overreacting, however, when you read “dress-down ghetto style” what exactly is implied? What you have seen in music videos is not representative of who we are as a people and to caricature that stereotype is no better than the performers who wore black face in the day of the minstrel show. It is time that people start to be aware of their words and think about what may seem harmless and fun, and how that may be perceived by people of another culture/race, etc. Furthermore, to describe the type of food associated as “ghetto”…” Boone’s Farm, Velveeta cheese, Kraft singles” all things associated as low class, cheap, and tacky, I was just disappointed.

I have to reiterate that I am sure that no one on this list had any bad intentions whatsoever, however, that is when it is most dangerous/hurtful, because it was completely unintentional. Thanks for listening, I mean no offense, I just felt it necessary to call it on the carpet.

a friend of mine summed up my feelings on the issue perfectly when he said:

Aside from the obviously polarizing juxtaposition of the term ghetto and
the stigma of sophitication associated with a damn wine tasting, they make said
class bias even more obvious when coupling the term ghetto with non-traditional
and name dropping obviously unfitting brands for a wine tasting.

During the interview, the author gave the following examples for “ghetto”:

  • naming your child after your favorite brand name product “lexus, cartier, etc.”
  • adding ‘ed’ to words that are already conjugated properly such as ‘tasteded’

She proceeded to describe a portion of her research where she “went to malls and talked with teenagers about what it meant to be ghetto” and went on to state that ghetto is not race, or class specific, “martha stuart and paris hilton can be just as ghetto as lil kim or nelly, ghetto is a state of mind.” she described it as “the glorification of the negative or underwhelming.” she then went on to relate the tale of a young boy she had seen who just looked “different” from the other children in a brooklyn ghetto, and ignorant to the clothing trends, she couldn’t quite place what it was, and it turned out that the boy was “poor and his parents were living within their means, you don’t see that a lot.” i could go on and on about this interview, but you should just listen to it yourself and be the judge. i feel like ms. daniels got it all wrong, but then again, maybe i should read the book.

finally…a Black disney princess

About a month ago, I sent an email out to some friends of mine:

Thought this was really interesting, a friend sent it, and for me, I thought of the wildly popular Barbie movies that have been put out that my neice loves so much, but there are never any princesses of color. makes me that much more determined to make Black children feel beautiful by presenting them with positive reinforcement and images of themselves that say they are good and worthwhile, and matter.

and followed up to a friend of mine who knows some local media:

i have decided that i want to write a letter to mattel, but i want someone there who actually matters to read it. how to do this…how to make a company recognize the importance of representing everyone? there has to be a way to get some sort of media attention…but how? where? do we know anyone in the news who can make a story about it and tie in to the brown vs. board and this new documentary? i mean mattel has HUGE distribution and those barbie videos are everywhere! they make a span of barbies in the color wheel, but none of those dolls ever get to be main characters in the movies…not even bit parts.

so imagine my shock and happiness when i saw this story on cnn:

wow. as a child, it was my dream to be an animator, i used to draw books of animated characters and wanted to send them to disney, and it always broke my heart that year after year and movie after movie, there were never any princesses who looked like me. i am happy today.

a waste of time?

i have been neglecting my blog, but not without good reason. i try to write only when i feel that i have something remotely interesting to share, although that is debatable…

i am very late on this one, this song has been out for quite some time, but about a month ago, i heard wouldn’t get far. at first, i was taken aback by the lyrics. i thought “what an ignorant song to make, how much more will women take??” i watched a hip hop documentary that aired on PBS a couple of weeks (or was it months?) ago, and it broached the topic of mysogeny in hip hop. i remember thinking at the time that women should take more ownership of their image(s) and voice(s), which got me to thinking about “exploitation.”

there is no black and white here, the whole thing is one giant gray area. the industry demands sex, it sells. as long as the demand exists, so will the supply. it wouldn’t matter if one girl walked off of a video set refusing to appear scantily clad, there would be 100 more willing to take her place. how can men respect women if women don’t respect themselves? but why should men disrespect women, regardless of how they represent themselves? why is it ever acceptable that any man’s excuse for acting out of turn would be “you saw how she was dressed, she was asking for it.” and then there is the age old double standard: a promiscuous woman is viewed differently than a promiscuous man. i think in the end, it boils down to who has the power.

the person in the position to wield control over the outcome of someone elses “success” has the potential to exploit. yet, anyone who compromises themselves to get what they want, and then makes excuses for the reasons, is delusional. i don’t buy “i had no other choice.” it’s a needs versus wants, and we live in a society that values material things. a person needs food, shelter, and a means of income. what they don’t need is caviar, a mansion on the hills, and a multi-million dollar salary. some people want fame, fortune, and excess, and they will do whatever it takes to get a piece of the action.

i suppose when all is said and done, the game wrote a song that is blunt and truthful. as much as the women are indicted for using their femeninity to make it, men are equally as responsible. after all, if sex wasn’t currency with them, it wouldn’t be used as a form of payment.