What I’m Reading…
Ghettonation By Cora Daniels (March 20, 2007, Doubleday)—A provocative examination of the lure of ghetto lifestyle and how it has impacted urban communities and American culture
How often have you heard or even used the expression, “That’s so ghetto?” Today, such terms are no longer just a Black thing but part of the colloquial.
-MTV’s Pimp My Ride, VH-1′s Flava of Love, and songs such as 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” top the charts.-”Pimp” and “ho” Halloween costumes are available in toddler sizes.
-Non-Black celebs like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears have usurped the ghetto attitude and lifestyle to gain attention and notoriety.
Cora Daniels takes on one of the most explosive issues in our country today in a thoughtful critique of American’s embrace of a ghetto persona that demeans women, devalues educations, celebrates the worst African American stereotypes, and contributes to the destruction of civil peace. Her investigation exposes the central role of corporate America in exploiting the idea of ghetto-ness as a hip cultural idiom, despite its disturbing ramifications as a means of making money. She showcases Black rappers raised in privileged families who have taken on the ghetto persona and sold millions of albums. She explores, as well, her own relationship to the ghetto and the ways in which she is both part of and outside the Ghettonation.Infused with humor and entertaining asides—including lists of events and people that deserve placement in the Ghetto Hall of Fame and a short section written entirely in ghetto slang—Ghettonation is a timely and engrossing report on a controversial social phenomenon. Like Bill Cosby’s infamous, much-discussed comments about the problems within the Black community today, it is sure to trigger widespread interest and heated debate.
From The Introduction:
As all consuming as “ghetto” is in these days of gold teeth, weaves—blond and red—Pepsi-filled baby bottles, babymamas, ghetto has a long history. The original ghetto was in the Jewish quarter of Venice, a Catholic city. Before it became the Jewish quarter, this area contained an iron foundry or ghéto, hence the name. These days, ghetto no longer refers to where you live, but how you live. It is a mindset, and not limited to a class or a race. Ghetto is found in the heart of the nation’s inner cities as well as the heart of the nation’s most cherished suburbs; among those too young to understand (we hope) and those old enough to know better; in little white houses, and all the way to the White House; in corporate corridors, Ivy League havens, and, of course, Hollywood. More devastating, ghetto is also packaged in the form of music, TV, books, and movies, and then sold around the world. Bottom line: ghetto is contagious, and no one is immune, no matter how much we like to suck our teeth and shake our heads at what we think is only happening someplace else…