Behind the Walls of the Ghetto
Commenting on the famed Los Angeles ghetto in which he grew up, gangster rapper Ice Cube asserts, “If you ain’t never been to the ghetto, don’t ever come to the ghetto” (Cube, Ghetto Vet). But why are American ghettos filled with so much violence, drugs, and inopportunity? In John Singleton’s powerful drama Boyz N the Hood the harsh reality of youths growing up in South Central Los Angeles, a place where drive-by shootings and unemployment are rampant, is brought to life. Shot entirely on location in South Central LA, Boyz N the Hood presents its story with maximum honesty and realism. The movie is a prime example of how American ghettos are dead end environments with minute chances for survival. If we are to put an end to the destitute, prison-like ghetto environments, we first need to take a look at what goes on there.
One can point to many initiating factors from racism to property owner’s aspirations of gentrification that create ghettos. Furious Styles, the strong and intelligent father of the film’s main character Tre, addresses the issue of why these areas are in such a dire state when he says:
[…] How do you think the crack rock gets into the country we [black people] don’t own any planes, we don’t own no ships…we are not the people who are flyin’ and floatin’ that shit in here […] why is it that there a gun shop on almost every corner in this community? […] For the same reason that there’s a liquor store on almost every corner in the Black community, […] they want us to kill ourselves. You go out to Beverly Hills you don’t see that shit, the best way you can destroy a people is if you take away their ability reproduce themselves. (Singleton)
In this passage, Furious presents ideas of white property holders looking for the best way to exterminate the Black and Hispanic communities in their area. The late rapper Tupac Shakur once declared, “We [Black people] ain’t meant to survive cuz it’s a set up” (Shakur, Keep Ya Head Up). As far-fetched as these notions may seem, they may hold more truth than one thinks. Questions arise as to the relation between the ghetto and the upper class areas. Oddly, these communities, though only miles apart, are completely detached. In a study on ghettos in America, Ed Glaeser writes that:
These districts commonly called ‘gh...
... middle of paper ...
...r any other sport after college, is slim to none. At the very least, more high profile avenues out of the ghetto such as science and the arts need to be instituted in order to provide better opportunity for the futures of ghetto youths.
Boyz N The Hood. Dir. John Singleton. Perf. Ice Cube, Cuba
Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, and Larry Fishburne. Columbia Pictures, 1991.
Glaeser, Ed. “Ghettos.” Regional Review 7 (1997): 1-7.
Guarino-Ghezzi, Susan. “Reintegrative Police Surveillance
of Juvenile Offenders: Forging An Urban Model.” Crime
& Delinquency. 40 (1994): 1-16.
Hagan, John. “Class Fortification Against Crime In Canada.”
Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology. 29
Vergara, Camilo Jose. “A Guide to the Ghettos.” Nation
Company Inc. 256 (1993): 1-5.
Vergara, Camilo Jose. “Our Fortified Ghettos.” Nation
Company Inc. 258 (1994): 1-4.
Vergara, Camilo Jose. “Traces of Life: The Visual Language
Of the Ghetto.” RC Publications Inc. 47 (1993): 1-4.
Zukin, Sharon. “How ‘Bad’ Is It?: Institutions and
Intentions in the Study Of the American Ghetto.” International Journal of Urban & Regional Research 22 (1998): 1-11.
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