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Published by Shawn Gif Folk

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Published by: Shawn Gif Folk on Aug 10, 2011
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 ©Copyright 2011 Iamthegif All Rights Reservedhttp://dagif.com Black people in America have long been vilified by the white population of this country. To justify slaverythey depicted us as subhuman, uncivilized savages that threatened to rape their women, among otherthings
. We needed to be “civilized” by good Christian white folks to progress from our intrinsically
animalistic ways. The perceived innate savagery of the black being is cause for black law offenders oftenbeing punished 3 times harder than white offenders guilty of the same crimes.There is a disproportionate amount of black Americans residing in poverty; in ghettoes. This stems frombans on education of slaves that prohibited many blacks from becoming literate, governmentsanctioned exclusion from the most prosperous professions, red-lining which denied black people accessto living in certain communities based on their color, and inferior schooling among other factors. Thisinforms the
white American consensus that if you’re black
you’re assumed to be from th
e ghetto,
unless they’re otherwise informed.
The ghettos across America, by and large, are considered the respective hearts of black America andwhere authentic blackness resides. Is it coincidental that the ghetto is also the place well known as therealm of the uneducated, consequently ignorant, and the often belligerent? The ghetto is a place whoseinhabitants are used to reinforce prior theories of black inferiority, inhumanity, savagery, hyper-violence, hyper-sexuality, and criminality. We're said to love joblessness and welfare. We're said to loveignorance and crime. Those who
fit into that picture are considered the exception and not therule.
We invited the transformation of racism. Color doesn’t dictate the guidelines of racial exclusion in
 America. Employers are now free to discriminate on black Americans by things like their name andgeographic location.
When we speak of the “ghetto mentality” in regards to it being undesirable
, wemust also recognize the fact that we are also painting the people of the ghetto as undesirable, as this isthe alleged mind state of ghetto inhabitants.
We have people in the ghetto that don’t consider
themselves to be ghetto so they feel excluded from the connotation that the term carries.One day, I was riding the bus and I heard
a brother behind me tell a girl “You know what I like mostabout you? You don’t have that ghetto mentality. I mean you let it come out of you when you need it tobut…” For some reason it made me cringe at the sound of it. When the bus
reached their stop and theydeparted I looked around where they were exiting the bus and low and behold it was what most would
consider being the ghetto. Maybe they didn’t live there, maybe they were visiting
I don’t know.
Just toentertain the idea that they were residents of that area made his statements seem so
counterproductive to me. I couldn’t help but to feel in uttering those words he hoped to express thesentiment that she, like he weren’t like “those people” where they come from, that they were b
 ©Copyright 2011 Iamthegif All Rights Reservedhttp://dagif.com 
It’s alright for them to entertain that idea because they can differentiate but not everyone else does or
can.In demonizing the ghetto we demonizing ourselves regardless of whether of we feel a part of itsprevailing culture or not. When police enter our communities with negative attitudes about who we arewe all fall subject and victim to their treatment. When jobs use their preconceived notions about wherewe come from and reside to discriminate in their employment practices we all fall victim to it.
As black Americans we’re conditioned to aspire to progress out of the ghetto and away from the “ghettomentality”. The progress of which we aspire is measured in proximity
to whiteness. It was long ago
established that the black man needed to be “civilized”
, which meant indoctrinated into white culture,in order to gain acceptance which is what many blacks in America view as progress. Not much haschanged.To white America, a criminal is typically
considered to be a bad person. White Americans aren’
t viewed
as or view themselves as bad people so the terms crime and criminal don’t speak to who they are as a
people. Black Americans have been demonized to the extent that crime and criminal speak to who weare as a people. Blackness and criminality are synonymous.
White America doesn’t know what it means
to be black beyond their preconceived notions of what it means to be ghetto; both are synonymous withbeing criminal.Black Americans have fallen under the illusion that when white people use terms such
as “ghetto” &“nigger” they’re speaking to a particular kind of black people and not black people holistically. This has
led to us adopting those terms in order to create a division amongst ourselves between the good andthe bad. In a society that has been
conditioned to believe that if you’re black you’re inherently bad andto become good you must progress out of blackness, we say “I’m black but I’m not ‘ghetto’” and “I’mblack but I’m not a ‘nigger’”,
terms that we believe embody what white people view as bad about blackpeople and not black people in general but are and acceptance of those terms in any regard as adescription of any kind of blackness reinforces their belief.
White America doesn’t differentiate because it doesn’t know how to. No officer s
top! Show me
your degrees or I’ll shoot. Stop! Let me hear if you say ‘I am not’ as opposed to ‘I ain’t’
or I’ll shoot.”
AsJohn Henry Gates Jr. learned, outside of those lin
es there’s no separation of who is black and who is
ghetto or who is black and who is a nigger. Outside of those lines we are all the same, black, whichproblematically carries the connotation of criminal. Largely at this stage of the game we have ourselvesto blame because we continue to reinforce the idea that black does equal criminal but bycompartmentalizing it into different categories of blackness that only we can differentiate between.
 ©Copyright 2011 Iamthegif All Rights Reservedhttp://dagif.com When incidents of police brutality occur, such as the one that took place at the recent Smif-N-Wessun &Pete Rock Monumental Experience Album Release party, it usually results in no action, no movement,no one is held accountable. This is the result of fragmented resistance. There are those of us that areoutraged by it and there are those of us that think what happened, happened because the people it
happened to don’t talk, act, or dress the right way. The incident isn’t considered to be something that
happened to
but something that happened to
, the ghetto people and the niggas.On many occasions after the unjustified murder of one unarmed black man or another, Sean Bell,
Timothy Stansberry, Oscar Grant, I’d express
my outrage to
older blacks that would say “Yeah that’s
terrible, but these young guys be out here on these street corners with their pants hanging off of theirass saying nigga this and nigga that.
Maybe if they get their ass off the street things like this wouldn’thappen to them.” Their sentiment is that it’s somehow something self 
It’s easy to write
-off theopinions of an old fuddy
duddy when you don’t recognize the fact that young
blacks in America have nopolitical power. Those old fuddy duddies in the black community are who the little politicians we havelobbying on our behalf listen to.
Until we’re able to organize and mobilize to gain our own political
power, what they think matters.
I’m fond of a psychological concept developed by George Herbert Mead called the looking
-glass self.The looking-glass self is based around the idea that you are what you see people in your society believeyou to be. We consider ourselves smart based on how the people around us measure intellectualcapacity. We view ourselves as good or bad based on how the people around us determine such things.
Once we’re labeled we tend to act in manners that run consistent with our labels. In casting the “ghett
mentality” as something negative, we label the people of the ghetto as negative and some tend to actaccordingly. If we want to really change the “ghetto mentality” we must first change the perception of 
what it means to be ghetto, in doing so we change the actions that run consistent with the label and thepeople that identify with it.
In the ghetto I see people that have jobs some people that don’t,
people that have finished school, some
people that haven’t, p
eople that have class, and some people that do
n’t. The definition of ghetto hasbeen allowed to be defined by those who don’t as those who have
sought to exalt themselves above
those who don’t.
As a people our self-esteem in connection with our intrinsic self has taken such abeating and is so low we constantly seek out means of getting a boost just to remain stable. Theeducated get their self-esteem boost in looking down on the uneducated. The employed get their boost

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