Now that class is over for all of two weeks, I’ve got some time to do recreational reading again. Currently, I’m working on Restaurant at the End of the Universe, The Bhagavad-Gita, and I’ve gone back to Cora Daniels’s Ghetto Nation, which is the subject of today’s post.
As I probably have said before, the premise of Daniels’s book is that “ghetto” is not a class or a place so much anymore as it is a mindset. It is a concept that so many people have internalized that the word doesn’t just apply to the neighborhood where the Jews were contained or the run-down place that the Blacks live(d).
The first affirmation of the first chapter is “at it’s heart…ghetto is thinking short-term instead of long-term. Today is most important because tomorrow doesn’t matter” (28). I remember hearing something like that in church as a kid–live like today may be your last because tomorrow isn’t promised. So as I read this section, I think about how I live and how I see my students living (because they are the people in my life right now I have the most contact with). I try my best to show them that there is something to be done after high school. I talk about how I’m in college and the things I have to do in class. And yet, these kids judge status by the size of their cell phone. And “I’ve got (this many) texts saved in my inbox.” But bringing a pencil or pen and some paper to class is out of the question.
They think: I have chosen the path of least resistance. The path that will require me to have to have two minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. And maybe I’ll get pregnant. Then I can go on Welfare. There is no Plan B. And they’re the victims of their own lives. Of course, they don’t realize that they’re making a choice. They don’t make life, life happens to them. If that’s not ghetto, I don’t know what is.