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Volume 69, Issue 89, Thursday, February 12, 2004


Use of 'ghetto' often inappropriate

keenan singleton

Citizens beware. The ghetto is coming to a vocabulary near you.

Be amazed as the years of proper English magically deteriorate right before your very lips.

Your "hello's" become "yo's." You no longer go home; you go to the "crib." Simple sentences like "I've got to go to work" become "I've got to go to wizzerk."

Thanks, Snoop Dogg.

Welcome to the ghetto-fication of America. Where rotund butts become "ghetto booties," Jerry Springer is the voice of the country, and gold goes straight from the mines to your mouth.


But this isn't just playing around with words or meanings. It's much more than simple wordplay.

Although it is often characterized as being so on rap videos and songs, being "ghetto," it would seem (to me at least), isn't all fun and games.

Last time I checked, the ghetto (no matter what city it is found in) is a rough place, not necessarily to be celebrated and embraced. Why the rush to embrace a negative stereotype?

I blame confusion.

Too often, "ghetto culture" is associated with a black or Latino lifestyle. And that's not too funny. At least not to me.

I didn't grow up in the ghetto, and neither did a lot of black or Latino people. I won't attempt to speak for every black or Latino, but I know I'm offended when the word is tossed around carelessly and aimlessly.

The few times I've called someone on it, I tried to do it as gently as possible, since these people were and are my friends. I'm not sure if they were able to see my point, but it did open an avenue of dialogue, which is always a good thing.

Many of the times I did let it slide, mainly because I'm not even sure what the word means. Or what context or situation it was used in. Or what it means to that person. 

Some people embrace it. To them, it's a badge of honor, earned through a rough lifestyle encircled by even rougher surroundings. 

Others, more likely to be people who have physically left the ghetto behind, shun it. What's so amazing to me about this word is that it is simultaneously negative and positive.

How can a word (that's not even an adjective, by the way) mean so many different things to so many different people?

Again, confusion is to blame. 

I always moan about the over-sensitivity of this country, and maybe I got sucked into it as well. The word is already firmly entrenched and is unlikely to be banished anytime soon.

The word has its place. Even when used improperly, it has its proper place in slang terminology. 

I'm just saying be more careful when using it to describe people, places or things.

It is a noun, after all. 

Singleton, an editorial writer for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at


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