Since the 1960s, Black America has been plagued with a growing cultural epidemic, beginning with the most poor and underexposed and then spreading beyond the inner cities where they lived. Over the past half-century this counterproductive culture of negativity has permeated both the entertainment and sports industries, and now affects Americans of all races and walks of life. Characterized by escapism and materialism, this culture calls irresponsibility freedom, glorifies crime, violence, and hypersexuality, defies all authority, and acts as a coping mechanism for those who feel rejected by mainstream society and economy.
This culture is being “ghetto”.
Now reaching far beyond housing projects, slums, and other depressed urban areas, ghetto culture attracts ‘wannabes’ who wish to identify with the either hardness and struggle or the criminal element of many people living in poverty. Being truly “ghetto” is universal. Because prostitution is one major aspect of the criminal economy of inner cities, the relative degradation and abuse of women is a part of the culture that members of every walk of life can participate in. The abuse of drugs and alcohol as well as the preoccupation with flashy, expensive clothes and cars is attractive and accessible to anyone who has the money and time to spend seeking pleasure in these things. So, you clearly don’t have to live in the ghetto to ‘be’ ghetto; thanks to the entertainment industry, the gospel of the ghetto has been spread far and wide, promising fleshy satisfaction to all who would exchange civility for vulgarity and rebellion, and who will live for today instead of planning for tomorrow.
Hopefully, my description of ghetto culture depresses you, at least a bit. If not, you may indeed be desensitized due to overexposure.
In case you are wondering, I believe I understand ghetto culture because I was born and raised in the hood (I will break down the difference between the two in another article) and lived in the midst of various ghettos in Detroit, Michigan, a city thoroughly infused with ghetto culture. I never fully immersed myself in it, but I have been and still can get a little ghetto, even to this day. Some of it really is harmless fun.
Most of it, however, is not.
While I don’t judge people I do judge things, and ghetto culture is one of those things that inner city dwellers need to graduate from. It was fostered by the rise of government social services and welfare programs and nurtured by a warped, maternal family structure born out of war, underemployment, and crime. When men ceased to be the head of families in urban areas, ghetto culture spread like a disease. Now, America’s metropolises are plagued with restless, ignorant, self-serving, deviants and those who validate them by sharing in the customs and entertainment of ghetto culture. No, you may not break into people’s homes and rob them, but you sing along with the rapper who glorifies such actions. You may live conservatively during the week but on the weekends you party in the ghetto, with the ghetto, or like the ghetto, further validating the negativity of ghetto culture. While you may not live in a poor area, you like to flash your designer goods and expensive cars in areas where ghetto people can admire you for owning them.
So, even though you aren’t in the ghetto, if the ghetto is in you, you are part of the problem.
We have to graduate from ghetto. People living in ghettos often use ghetto culture as a way of coping with a seemingly hopeless situation; if there is no way out, I should just make the best of what I have. However, when those who are not confined to the ghetto validate the self-destructive culture of the ghetto, it only confirms that there is no need to strive for anything else! People now work to get out of the ghetto just so they can live “ghetto-fabulous”! What kind of sense does that make? Leave the ghetto so I can live like a king in the ghetto, except outside the ghetto, kinda? The idea should be to get out of the ghetto so that we can live safe, productive, responsible lives that ensure our children never have to live in a ghetto. How does spending exorbitant amounts of money on clothes, intoxicants, vehicles, and recreation build a future for you or your family? It may be fun for now, but what happens when later comes?
Oh, that’s right; the government is supposed to give you what you need then because you couldn’t ‘afford’ to think ahead when you did have means and opportunity to build.
That’s their job, right?
No, it’s ours; that is why for every ghetto, there must be an anti-ghetto. The anti-ghetto is simply the sphere in which any person or group from or in the ghetto simply refuses to conform to the expectations and the culture of the ghetto.
Someone who subscribes to anti-ghetto culture:
- Refuses to listen to music or support artists that glorify ghetto culture and ideals
- Refuses to degrade themselves in speech, dress, or demeanor as ghetto culture allows and encourages
- Refuses to be depend on government assistance as a way of life, especially when the benefits are not necessary for survival
- Refuses to glory in ignorance but values education in all forms, both formal and informal
- Makes empowerment not only a goal, but a lifestyle
- Respects themselves and others
- Obeys just laws and works to change unjust laws
- Honors their own bodies through proper nutrition, exercise, and moderation in delicacies and non-nutritional consumables
- Speaks with dignity and respect for self and the environment he or she is in
- Seeks to act as an agent of change and shine as a beacon of hope for others who wish to live above and beyond the ghetto
It’s time for the anti-ghetto element to rise in the inner cities and abroad.
The Urban Counterculture blog and forum are designed to be an anti-ghetto refuge online. Your support of this website will help others to find a way to live differently and evolve into more than just what their environment or current culture expects.
We can be more.