Frank Smith asks:
Robert, in your opinion, what percentage of blacks are ghetto blacks?
That question is almost impossible to answer because it is so hard to define. I have had Blacks tell me that it is only 20% of Blacks who are ghetto, but it could well be more than that because so many Blacks are so maddeningly hard to define. The truth is that many Blacks have both Civilized* and Ghetto* components to them. At times they are what I would call Civilized and at other times they are Ghetto. Others drift in and out of Civilized and Ghetto modes. A lot of the Blacks around here are like that.
And there is the definition of what is Ghetto. Ghetto is really nothing more than Street Black Culture. Where I live, a very large % of Blacks are involved in Street Black Culture, especially the younger ones.
What is the dope smoking, heavy drinking retired Black schoolteacher neighbor of mine? She acts pretty ghetto, but she was a schoolteacher for many years. One daughter just graduated from college and another is now away at college on a scholarship. Another one has pimps and thugs for boyfriends, gets beaten by her lovers, has worked as a prostitute, and can speak Ebonics for an hour without my understanding a single word. She can also behave in a civilized fashion if she wants to and was recently enrolled in a surgical assistant program.
The Black girl next door is a Jehovah’s Witness, but she knows how to speak jive. Her best friend was an Hispanic gangbanger. Her boyfriend now is a good-looking young Black man who looks like a typical hood but is said to be a decent guy.
The Black handyman is a great guy, a good hard worker, but he is a real Black with a very thick accent. At times he can speak top notch jive and Ebonics.
Truth is around here, most of the Blacks act ghetto to one degree or another.
“Ghetto” and “Civilized” are best seen as “modes” that many US Blacks negotiate back and forth between, sometimes during discreet periods and at other times in the course of an hour or a day. Others mix both Civilized and Ghetto modes together at the same time in a mosaic. Some ascend to Civilized, while others descent to Ghetto. The same person may make this journey many times.
When Blacks are a minority as they are in my town (4%), heavily ghettoized Blacks have their ghetto behaviors substantially modulated by the presence of large Hispanic or White majorities, who encourage them to aspire to more Civilized behaviors while encouraging them to tone down the more ghetto behaviors. If the Black % in this town went up by a significant number, many of these local Blacks would probably act less Civilized and more ghetto, since ghetto behaviors seem to increase with the % percentage of Blacks in a community as the lowest common denominator rules and Blacks egg each other in a race to race to the bottom and there are few positive role models to aspire to or to police bad behaviors.
*In this essay, I use Civilized to mean the opposite of Ghetto behaviors. A Black person acting Civilized would display minimal ghetto behaviors and would be describe by Whites as behaving well within the context of what we think is decent behavior. And Ghetto, well, you know what that is!