“I’m so excited to hang out with you this weekend,” my coworker told me before we left for the day. Being the only Black girls at our job, we (of course) decided to hang out outside the office confines of White Supremacy™.
“Same, sis. I need to go to the beauty supply before we hang, though.”
“Oh, can I come with? I love doing hoodrat stuff with my friends!”
I paused, shaken by the comment. I turned around and looked at my Black coworker – my upper-middle class, only-attended-private-schools, doesn’t even know what a Link card is, Black coworker. I couldn’t believe she’d just referred to me going to the beauty supply as “hoodrat”.
See, I’ve noticed how suburban Black girls have some sort of obsession with all things ghetto and hood-like. They have never lived in a hood and never experienced Black poverty, but they love going around (incorrectly) labeling things as “ghetto” or “hood”.
Ghetto and hood are not insults, let me be clear. They are aesthetics, lifestyles, and realities for many Black people. Those big hoops with words like, “sexy” in them? That’s hood style right there. Calling something ghetto is not inherently bad, especially when people who come from that lifestyle use it.
But that’s the problem with upper-middle class Black girls having a fetish for hood things, and hood people. They’re not from that lifestyle, and it comes off as patronizing. When my coworker said she wanted to do hoodrat stuff, it reminded me of a White woman trying to African-American Vernacular English to seem cool or hip. It fell flat, and I was almost insulted.
The point I’m not trying to make here is that Black girls can’t have access to Black culture. If it’s apart of your culture, use it how you see fit. But upper-middle class suburban Black girls are not apart of Ghetto Black culture. They have never lived that life, and though they are Black, that is not their Blackness to claim or own.
Lately on Twitter, so many of these suburban Black girls have been obsessing over dating a “hood” guy. Their rationale is that the hood guy is so used to metoricity in the hood, that when suburban Black girls do something “regular” (i.e., middle-class) the hood guy is amazed and awed by her lifestyle. Twitter user @daniecal explains it best; ““I love hood nigg*s because they’re easily impressed by me engaging in middle class aspiring activities, and treat me with more care than they do other black women who share their perceived socioeconomic status.”
This is dehumanizing to men from the hood, and it takes away from the beauty that poor Black people have tried to incorporate into their low socioeconomic statuses. Black girls getting cheap makeup from the beauty supply to still look fly is resistance from the idea that Black women don’t deserve makeup. Black people leaving their stove open as it cooks nothing to provide heat in the winter is crafty and survivalistic. That’s hood culture.
Black, middle-class girls in white suburbs might be grappling to find their identities. They might feel like they’re not Black enough because they didn’t go through the stereotypical Black experience involving poverty. But their Blackness is just as valid as other Black people’s Blackness! It may look and function differently, but it’s still valid. So you don’t have to co-opt ghetto culture. It’s not yours, and it won’t bring you any closer to being Black.