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Need Quick Feedback On The Use of The Word "GHETTO"

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
So, dd comes home today and tells me that the nurse told her to stop talking "ghetto"!

Some background: DD is in a small classroom for kids with developmental disabilities and there is A LOT of adult interaction. There are about 10 kids in the class and one primary teacher and 3 additional teacher's aids. There is also an assistant nurse who is in the classroom most of the time(she stays between dd's classroom and the classroom next door).

Well, it has just come to my attention that dd has been talking very rude and sassy to the assistant nurse when the nurse comes to get her to go to the bathroom and do her cares. This is no shock to me since we deal with this with dd at home all the time. I can also tell ahead of time who is going to have problems with dd and who isn't. This assistant nurse is pretty laid back and has a very chummy relationship with the kids, which for dd is a mistake.

OK, so from what dd tells me, dd said to the asst. nurse - "I ain't doin' dat" and the nurse told her to stop talking ghetto. DD does like to talk slang and "talk cool". Most likely she said it with an attitude.

I am super pissed. For some more background, dd is an almost 13 yr old caucasian girl, who is in a wheelchair and is developmentally disabled. It is true that dd does not always get stories straight but she doesn't make stuff up out of thin air either. The fact that the word was used, I am quite sure she didn't make up. The way it was used could be different than she thought.

OK, after all I've said, does the context really even matter that much?
Would this teacher (also caucasian) say this to a student of color?

Is there any use of this word that is not racist and/or classist?

I just thought I'd get some feedback from some of you before I e-mail the teacher about it. I am not very happy that this word has been introduced to dd (although she has probably heard it on TV). We do not use this word around our house to describe anything ever.

Not that it matters, but our niece lives with us and she has 2 kids(who also live with us) who are 4 and 6 and they both are african american. We have always been conscious of how we talk and have gone out of our way to teach dd that everyone is the same, and have never used any language like this. DH and I both grew up in racist households, to different degrees, but luckily we have grown a lot and have made different choices about how we raise dd.

I just thought I'd just see what you all have to say before I e-mail the teacher. I think we need to set up a plan for dd's behavior, but that is a separate issue than telling dd to not "talk Ghetto" - yikes!
post #2 of 12
I don't think it's a racist/classist word at all- rather it's used to describe a linguistic pattern mainly used in urban vocab, rich or poor. It has become rather commonly used (i use it myself!) and on a scale of 1 to 10 in Vulgarity, i consider it like a 2. So much as so I wouldnt care if my DD said it.

If I were going to speak to the teacher, I would focus more on alternative ways of discipline, but not hang onto the word "ghetto". It just doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

post #3 of 12
Originally Posted by judejude View Post
Is there any use of this word that is not racist and/or classist?
Almost all words can be used either apropriately, or inapropriately. This word is not in an of itself a racist term. It is most accurately used to describe racist situations.

  • During the Nazi occupation of Polland, Jews living in Warsaw were confined to a ghetto till they were rounded up.
  • In 20th century US cities, banks refused to give minorities mortgages, and realestate agents refused to show minorities homes outside certain nieghborhoods. This created ghettos.
I would not object to the word, but the context the nurse used was inapropriate.
post #4 of 12
I agree with eepster. I'm Irish and have gotten into quite the conversation about ghettos.

I agree that the nurse needs smacked in the mouth! I bet she wouldn't have said "ghetto" if your DD wasn't white.

I also agree that "kids these days" need to stop "talking like that". I've heard this language from celbs and in music and I can't get my brain wrapped around it. DH and I are "English people" (vs. math people ) and this blue blooded murder of the English tongue is NUTS!!! Slang is one thing, accents are one things, complete disregard for words and sentence structure is another. :
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
post #6 of 12
I disagree with Shwarma Queen here. In my experience, the use of the word "ghetto" as an adjective is always classist and/or racist. Not appropriate for a professional at a school to use at all.

But then again, I am an Uptight Seattle-ite.

post #7 of 12
I take offense to the way the word ghetto is used these days, especially as in, That is SO ghetto. Usually it's said by a person who has no idea what it's like to grow up in a ghetto and I feel it's the racial and classist equivalent of "black trash" or "trailer trash."

As a person who has grown up in the projects IN the ghetto, I know what it's like to have to make ends meet or piece things together to make them work or not speak The King's English and be made fun of.

I don't use the term, not in that regard, and it is offensive to me to hear it from anyone. I would be extremely upset if anyone, especially a school nurse, said it to my dd.
post #8 of 12
I think the nurse was ignorant. Yes, I have heard "ghetto" used as an adjective, and it's not inherently offensive. But the nurse clearly used it to imply "urban low class". Definately a classist remark I would discourage my kids from repeating. It is an accurate adjective to describe the particular vernacular in question though. I would discourage my kids from using that sort of language as well, precisely BECAUSE it sounds uneducated and low class.
post #9 of 12
I agree with olliepop and mntnmom. The nurse was inappropriate.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ya, to me it is just way out of line. I agree that it is the equivalent of "White Trash" although that is more of a class issue but does not have the race thing attached to it. "Ghetto" has both.

But, if the nurse had said "stop talking white trash" I would have been equally offended.

I think the nurse was inappropriate but also i am now stuck with having to discuss this with dd. I guess I can look at it as a learning experience, but I would expect this from a friend at school or TV or radio - not an authority figure at school.

I e-mailed the teacher and she addressed the nurses behavior but she never once made any reference to her use of this word. : I think she was worried about addressing it because she knows that it could turn into a big deal, and she's hoping I don't push the issue.

She told me she would talk to the nurse, but then she did proceed to tell me that the staff may have been on edge yesterday because they found out that a student that was in their class for 3 years just passed away.

I understand that they probably were on edge and it was probably hard to function at school....HOWEVER, I haver always had a problem with people saying racist, sexist, etc. stuff and then saying that they were having a bad day or they were especially angry, etc. If this stuff wasn't in your head to begin with why would it come flying out of your mouth at any time?
I understand the nurse being on edge and having fewer patience, but the use of this word, to me, has nothing to do with any of that.
post #11 of 12
Originally Posted by Leatherette View Post
I disagree with Shwarma Queen here. In my experience, the use of the word "ghetto" as an adjective is always classist and/or racist. Not appropriate for a professional at a school to use at all.

But then again, I am an Uptight Seattle-ite.


Words evolve people! Language is constantly changing and words have dual uses! Maybe it's because I'm young(er) than most here, but it's not a word on my black list. I agree it's not that professional and maybe not the most appropriate choice of words, but I wouldn't overanalyze it's use.
post #12 of 12
to me it is inappropriate, yes.

Everyone makes mistakes. Unless this particular person has a habit of using the word than i would really let it go. From your post it sounds like you are making a bigger deal of it than I would.

Is it possible that your 13 year old knows your buttons and is pushing them through this story?

Also the word doesn't strike me as particularly race charged. More clascist than anything and the fact that your daughter is caucasian in appearance does not mean that she couldn't be from a ghetto.
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