Ghettonation: A Journey Into the Land of Bling and the Home of the Shameless.
One thing on the minds of many African Americans today is the self-destructive attitudes and lifestyles of our brothers and sisters, now popularly termed as "ghetto" and used by blacks and whites alike. Never one to not tackle critical issues, the award-winning journalist and cultural critic Cora Daniels, author of Black Power Inc: The New Voice of Success (John Wiley and Sons, 2004), gives us a serious satirical "stand-up" on the value and significance of all things "ghetto" in her latest book, Ghettonation, which is full of hilarious belly laughs that end in a straight face.
There's plenty of knowledge and irony packed in this 256-page book, which examines a rapidly growing cultural phenomena that reverses so much pride and respect found in our old black communities and families under Jim Crow, and gives way to a highly profitable commodity that promotes negative attitudes towards our women, denies the value of quality education and accentuates the worst in our ranks. Daniels points to the greed and high dividends of corporate America that exploits this sordid side of our race as both an art form of "ghetto-ness" and as a super profit-making venture. She also blasts fake black rappers weaned on the tit of privilege, masquerading as thugs and hoods to sell albums and to live the good life.
For years, many people in our communities have been noticing that our cultural products of music, literature and film have deteriorated into the realm of cliches and stereotypes. Furthermore, these products exported from the 'hood are not what they once were. And Daniels thinks the tide has changed and we need some crucial scrutiny on just what cultural images we are putting out there for the world.
She notes that she knew she had to write this book when Paris Hilton, a rich white girl with a huge bank account and a brazen sex tape, commented about a track being"so ghetto." At the same time, the New York Times reveals that poor African American and Hispanic people are paying so much more for essentials uptown than downtown, a sort of "ghetto tax." Daniels also notes the seduction of the thug/rap/booty videos with young black girls washing car hoods and shapely 'tweens prancing around to "de phat beats," fantasizing about getting a bad head from malt liquor and blunts, and enjoying sex with multiple partners. Hooray for Superhead! I think not. She cites lethal figures about their influence on young girls and rise of STDs, including HIV.
This is an informative and vastly entertaining book for your bookshelves. Daniels--a cultural agitator with a smirk--really wants readers to think and imagine what the African American experience should be. It's the dream of our beloved elders. Instead, Daniels puts it right on the line for us to read: "At its heart, though, ghetto is thinking short-term instead of long-term. Today is the most important because tomorrow doesn't matter." 'Nuff said.
Robert Fleming is working on Evil Never Sleeps, a short fiction collection to be published later this year.
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|Publication:||Black Issues Book Review|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2007|
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