Monday, October 8, 2012

Re: Why I Love Ratchetness

“If you use ratchet or ghetto in any other context other than positive, unfriend yourself right now….As someone who grew up in one room apartments, shared with other families sometimes in poor neighbourhoods, my experience of the ghetto is resourceful, persistent and so clean. Folks who are poor or have been poor know how expensive it is to be poor, how creative you have to be to survive. I am not sure how that fetishizes my experience by recognizing the value of the the work that poor communities of colour do to stay alive. I am not suggesting that we romanticize poverty, but that we give credit where credit is due”
— Kim Katrin Crosby

In response to my girl Phoenix Rose: "Ratchet comes with a new level of ugly"

I think too often black folks have a tendency to see alot of what we do to survive, to feel good, to feel wanted, to feel desirable, to love ourselves, to express ourselves and to be self-determining in a negative, judgmental way. I think this is especially true for a black woman or gender-non-conforming person's body. I think we are too quick to shame each other, especially for not embracing a middle/upper class or white aesthetic. When I see a black woman with a skittles wrapper in her hair and her weave looking like a rainbow fountain, I am aware of just how much rebellion that is against EVERYTHING that says that she has no right to express herself, or determine for herself what she deems to be beautiful. And then I see Sara from Sex in the City make door-knockers hot, and everybody an they mama rockin em, and all of the sudden vogue is doing a fashion shoot on ratchet hair styles and now it's haute couture. Among afrocentric or African-centered folk, I see people who rebel against a so-called 'eurocentric' ideal, only to impose another form of oppression on people by attempting to enforce a standard of aesthetic that does not speak to their everyday experience. 

If you look at many African proverbs, you will see that much of well-known African philosophy is centered around the rhythms of daily life. I understand that Africans in the forced diaspora have had to be extremely dynamic and creative in order to survive, and this means creating culture no matter where you happen to find yourself, much like a dandelion- most think of it as a weed- will do. Dandelions have hundreds of variations in order to adapt to environment, whether toxic or healthy, but it makes it no less a dandelion, just like if the culture stems from the hood it doesn't make it less of a culture. one must question the toxicity of the environment that the culture sprung, but saying that one is less of a person because of the adaptations that one has made in order to survive toxicity doesn't mitigate the toxins in the environment, it just stomps on the person that is attempting to survive or even flourish. 
As another example, take names. I think it is absolutely brilliant for a person to name their child something rhythmic, something melodic, something one can dance to. black folks name their children the most ridiculously beautiful names and get called ghetto or ratchet for it. Flks talking about they don't know what their name means. But folks don't know what Suzy or Ted or Rachael or James or Brad mean either, they just pick those names because they are acceptable. But really, what is morally wrong with La'Quisha, Ba'Jonya, or Beyonce? Cuz,, lets admit it, if Beyonce wasn't famous, her name would just be another ratchet name.
So I think it's important to discuss maybe, and I'm reading your comment now as I type.. what even makes ugly? Who has defined those values and those roles for us? And how much of what is 'ugly' is unmitigated trauma, or folks trying to survive in a system that deems every part of us unvaluable, unwanted, undesireable and unloved? We need terms that speak the truth to power about what the conditions of our environments are. How much ugly we have to survive in order to express ourselves. We need terms that fucking love on us. 
So I'm appropriating Ratchet. I stand by ratchet. we don't need another term that is used as a weapon of shame. we don't need another word that tells us we are not enough. If ratchet is hood, If ratchet is black, If ratchet is ghetto, If ratchet is woman, then I am ratchet. And i love me, so i must love ratchet.

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