"On fleek" and "turn up" are just a few phrases that our generation casually uses and may have grown fond of. And while those are cool and pretty harmless, there are other words and phrases that we've picked up that may be over or misused.
I can't tell you how may times I've heard "ratchet" or "ghetto" used to describe things in a way that personally offends or disgusts me.
My question is: Do we really know what we're saying when we let such words leave our mouths?
Just because someone gets upset at another person, or gives them a piece of his or her mind, it doesn't mean that person is ratchet. The Urban Dictionary defines someone who embodies "ratchetness" as "one who is dirty, low class, no moral values and place themselves in a situation of being known in a negative way." Throwing around the word and using it to describe someone, especially someone you don't know, shouldn't be such a careless act.
One of my favorites is the use of the word "ghetto," specifically in contexts like this: "My car is so ghetto. The radio is broken and my A/C needs to be fixed." But why does that make it ghetto? What are you really trying to describe?
First off, did you know that a ghetto is actually a place? Merriam-Webster defines ghetto as "a part of a city in which members of a particular group or race live usually in poor conditions." Are you saying that the car, or whatever you're referring to, is only good enough for a particular group or race living in poor conditions? Did you know that ghetto, the real ghetto, is all that some people know and can afford to live in to survive? How insensitive of you to compare your taped-up glasses or repair-needed car to the only living conditions some people know.
And you may be wondering what the big deal is. Why is it such a problem to use these words? Well, is it OK to casually use the word "retarded" to describe a person of normal mental capacity just because he or she made a mistake? There was a whole campaign created against using the phrase "that's so gay," but no regard to the use of "ghetto" and "ratchet."
If you're still confused, the bottom line is this: It's offensive and it's disrespectful. If those are the only words you can use to describe what you're trying to say, you probably need to expand your vocabulary.
I'm not saying these words have no meaning or can't ever be used. I'm simply proposing that we educate ourselves on what we're really saying about something or someone before we use it. Just because we heard it in a song or saw it in a tweet does not make it OK.
Saying, "I didn't mean to offend you" can't always be an excuse, because guess what? You already did.
Think about it. How would you feel hearing those words if you grew up in the poorest part of the city? How much confidence would you have left if someone told you, you had no morals or values? Not so much, would you?
Jazmyne Hankerson is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Find her on Twitter @AsToldByJLee or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.