Cora Daniels 

Author of Ghettonation

We have become a nation -- white and black -- with a "ghetto" mentality defined by living for the moment, brazen bling, sexual irresponsibility and perpetual adolescence, argues author Cora Daniels in her latest book, Ghettonation. Daniels sees this destructive, superficial attitude founded on the most racist notion of what black "means" especially damaging for the black community.

The case of Don Imus seems to solidify your point that the ghetto stereotype is damaging to black Americans.

The hatred in Imus' heart did not surprise me; he has been dishing it out for decades. What struck me was the language he used, over and over again. We heard that he didn't have to think about it; those words slipped from his lips. It is an indication that the word "ho" has become synonymous with black women for too many in this country – and that is a problem. It doesn't lessen the problem that Imus is a racist. It just adds another level that those were the tools he used to express that disrespect. As well as the overall dangers.

Isn't the popular embrace of ghetto on some level an attempt by white America to claim the grit and authenticity some white Americans associate with being black?

There is definitely an attraction to the "exotic other" there. That can never be denied. I also think, though, since we are talking about such self-destructive behavior it indeed points to the larger issue of overall what has become acceptable. The problem when the worst we have to offer becomes mainstream is that nothing else will be heard. The danger is we all start to become numb – that this is just the way it is. And it shouldn't be how it is. It is not OK! The fact that this behavior is so widespread shows that our expectations – our expectations of ourselves and of each other – have gotten too low.

You have as much condemnation for white people acting ghetto as for black people. Give me your laundry list of white people who exhibit ghetto behavior.

Much too long a list. But Hollywood is an easy place to start ... when we hear someone like a Paris Hilton use ghetto as she did on "The Simple Life" when she could not start up a beat-up pickup truck, she utters: "This truck is so ghetto," as black folks we cannot ignore that this white millionairess is using a word that has long been associated in this country with poor black folks, to now describe something that is busted and broken down. Even as ghetto is being embraced by white folks there is still a level of disrespect and degradation there that is dangerous because what happens is all that is negative is becoming a substitute for black.

Daniels will speak about Ghettonation: A Journey Into the Land of Bling and the Home of the Shameless on Tues., May 8, 6:30 p.m., at 7 Stages Theater. For information, contact or call 404-209-9021.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Speakeasy with ...

More by Felicia Feaster

The Ultimate Doughnut Smackdown
The Ultimate Doughnut Smackdown

Search Events

  1. ATL's top four comedy clubs 2

    Get your laugh on, Atlanta
  2. 2014 Creative Loafing Fiction Contest 3

    Finding the myriad meanings in this year's theme, "Race"
  3. ‘Sweeney Todd’ still cuts to the quick

    Kevin Harry’s baritone tops off Sondheim’s classic musical thriller at Actor’s Express

Recent Comments

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation