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100% life: dwight draughon jr.

05/08/12 , , , ,

An Ivy Leaguer from the Ghetto

I was fortunate to grow up in the Bronx of New York City, and more fortunate to go to boarding school and college (and graduate school…and law school) afterwards. Being able to do so has had its countless blessings and opportunities, but it has also exposed me to a pet peeve: the use of the word “ghetto.”

I often hear the term from Blacks who grew up in more fortunate areas as they light-heartedly chastise each other for inappropriate behavior, interests or possessions. Although it can be applied to a plethora of things, I hear it most in reference to dress, dialect, loud voices, arguing/fighting and conspicuous consumption. Is there any truth to these stereotypes? Sure. You’d be hard pressed to find a stereotype that didn’t come from some truth, however minute. But the truth has nothing to do with its use.

While E. Franklin Frazier may be able to explain it better, I suspect that by pegging what they consider to be deplorable actions as ghetto, the Black bourgeoisie attempts to separate themselves from the stigmatized Black identity that has permeated American media since The Birth of a Nation. Blacks of all backgrounds (Caribbean, African, American), actually, have tried to distinguish themselves from the stereotypes. But instead of challenging the stereotypes, the Black community has accepted the stereotypes and convinced themselves that they don’t apply to them.

So, let’s back up.

What’s a ghetto? Well, unlike its common connotation, the ghetto is simply a section of a city that is predominantly occupied by a group of people ostracized for social (think racism; religious intolerance; etc.) or economic reasons. Consider checking out Theater of Acculturation. The Ghetto has been around for centuries and is not reserved for Blacks. Ghetto is not loud. Ghetto is not poor. Ghetto is not uncivilized. Sure, there may be loud, poor, and less civilized people in the ghetto. But, are there not poor people throughout America and the world? Do college kids not get rowdy?[1]

What about the Black ghetto? While the Black ghetto of America has its vices like any other place, the Black ghetto has been responsible for culture changing music, dance, food, fashion and people.[2] When you say that’s ghetto, do you mean Justice Sonia Sotomayor? General Colin Powell? Do you mean me?

Since growing up in the South Bronx of New York, I have been quiet, respectful, caring, hard-working, ambitious and eloquent (I also don’t drink or smoke…ever). I’m ghetto, but not the way it’s falsely used.

Yesterday, I heard two Black girls from well to do backgrounds loudly joke about a party—that  they planned on going to—being ghetto, and I thought to myself as I studied for my exam, “maybe it’s just bourgeoisie…”

No, I would never try to attribute a set of behaviors to a particular demographic or geographic region. I just charge that you, despite the contemporary minstrelsy disguised as music and other media influences, resist the urge to do so.

Always,

Dwight

Postscript:

The greatest rapper ever and one of the best American musicians ever is Jay-Z (more number #1 albums than any individual with no number #1 songs).

After him, it’s Dylan, Dylan, Dylan and Dylan.

Much respect to Tupac, Nas, Eminem, Joe Budden, Busta Rhymes, TI, Kanye, LL Cool J, Scarface, Ghostface and all the other great rappers of my time. Don’t want to imply that minstrelsy line applies to them.

Dwight Draughon is a ghetto boy with a BA from Princeton, MA from American and anticipated JD from Howard. He’s a dude that lives his life with a bunch of rules headlined by one: “I will NOT lose!” 


1. I won’t touch civility so as to not offend anyone, but you get the point Back

2. Here’s a list of accomplished people from the Bronx Back

click here for more 100% life.

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comments

Well put…
With young Black African American males like yourself African Americans can’t go wrong!

Lanell Williams

05/10/12

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