Friday, April 4, 2008

Excerpts from Ghettonation Blog

To answer Christina’s question and elaborate on the use of the word ghetto, Daniels repeatedly uses the word ghetto throughout her novel in order to make clear exactly what situations are considered ghetto. She places the lone word ghetto between sentences in a somewhat dismissing tone as one would in a typical conversation to create humor and to lessen any hints of ghetto being used in a demeaning manner. She is careful not to label any social group in particular as ghetto and even repeats it twice in her introduction that “ghetto is not limited to a class or a race” (8). When Daniels uses ghetto in a sentence, her intention is to allow the reader to accept the presence of the ghetto mindset in our society.

Daniels also uses the word ghetto as a form of clarification. To some readers, it may be clear that Gwyneth’s actions seem ghetto. However, other readers may actually have grown up in such an environment and they might have never considered their childhoods as ghetto. After all, it is easy to believe that “no matter how low on the economic totem pole we actually are, ghetto is those folks underneath us” (28).


Although Daniels suggests that we should accept ghetto, we should not be embracing it. After all, “ghetto is also an absence of self-respect” (33) and results in lowered moral standards. If we are to accept ghetto, what are we to do about ghetto behavior? Daniels makes clear that we can not simply turn our heads in a different direction. Whether we like it or not, ghetto is here to stay.

The embracement of ghetto is caused by the misconception that ghetto is black. In Will Smith’s “I Wish I Made That / Swagga,” he brings up the acceptance of ghetto as black in the music industry. In order to get attention in the media, he mockingly states that he would have to “jack a truck/ Full of cigarettes, guns & drugs & stuff,” in order to conform to the ghetto image. He talks about envying the fortune and fame of other rappers such as Dr. Dre and Tupac. He goes on to exaggerate how others criticize him for not having a ghetto background like most rappers of his time. However, he also raps, “All you see that you see when you seeing me, you ain't seeing all to be seen/ Cause there's more for you to see than when you see me on the scene in my/ media machine.” He reveals that he a person and he is not just his image. By stating so, he suggests that the other rappers are all about their images. He believes whether or not he is ghetto has no relevance to his blackness and that he indeed “got [his] swagga back.”


Good morning everyone. I’ve been a little busy but I’ve finally found some time.

The highlight of this book for me has to be chapter 6. Daniels’ writing style is dramatically different in this one chapter in relation to the rest of the book. Daniels makes no narration and the entire chapter is written in dialogue. Filled with excessive music references and ghetto behavior, this chapter reminds us how largely influenced we are by the media and vice versa. I’m not much of a music enthusiast but even I recognized some of the songs she was pulling lyrics out of. We hear the music so much that we can easily incorporate them in our everyday speech and it would go unnoticed. From “Gold Digger” to “Oops… I Did It Again,” Daniels utilizes the lyrics within the ghetto speech in such a manner that the entire conversation is believable and makes her point entirely. All the songs she refers to how this one ghetto image in common. Excessive partying. The financial aspect of a relationship. The fleeting ghetto aspect of a relationship driven by the thrill of the moment. Not only does this chapter instill humor in us, it also opens our eyes to how routine ghetto has become and the ghetto mindset. In words of 50 Cent, “America got a thing for this gangsta s***.”

Would I recommend other people to read this book? Definitely. It’s an eye opener for sure and makes you say, “Damn. I am pretty ghetto,” even if you never considered it before. This book can be read by those who detest ghetto culture and those who consider themselves a part of it. After all, it is social criticism. Ghetto is a part of our culture whether we like it or not so we might as well fully understand what it is and how it is affecting us. “I am ghetto. I am not ghetto. I am you” (196). A quick, enjoyable read that leave you laughing out loud and confused (but liking it).


1 comment:

Benwit L 6 said...

I enjoyed blogging about Ghettonation a great deal, primarily because it wasn't like a conventional blog around a novel. Making connections to present day situations and understanding somewhat controversial social critique was a refreshing change to the novels that we read this year. I feel this change is also reflected in my writing, as I tended to be less formal and more concerned with the content.