Ghetto Definition

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Nicole Telesky
The origin of a words definition can often be traced back years, decades or even centuries, thus allowing enough time for manipulation of its meaning to occur to where eventually the word becomes a commonly used, often randomly with little regard to its primary meaning. Such is the word “ghetto”. This word can be traced back into sixteenth century and here the twenty-first century, this original word has become part of our culture, but its current definition is far from original. The word ghetto has always been used to acknowledge a particular section of an area. In Venice Italy, it was used to describe neighborhoods where the city markets were located. The meaning then signified where the Jews in Italy resided. Yet the words primary acknowledgement is in the 1930’s; the ghetto was the neighborhoods in which the Nazi’s contained the Jews. Those within the ghettos were conceived as poor outcasts, forced to live low standard conditions. This was the part of town to stay away from. The ones confined within the ghetto became victims. Naturally, this segregation in the forms of neighborhoods contributed to ethnic and racial segregation, creating a foundation to the words concept. The word evolved in America, labeling the poor areas of town, mainly “the projects”, where residents struggle to afford high quality standards. On racial terms, the ones primarily living in these areas are black, or occasionally Hispanic, causing unneeded racial division. As a result of being deprived, these areas become common places for drugs and violence. This perception stays true to the words origins; the Jews were deprived and racially segregated. This is the words proper meaning.

Today, however, ghetto is most commonly used improperly. On one side, “ghetto” is cool. It’s what the white kids want to be and all the black kids pride themselves on. Being ghetto street smart makes you tough, and everyone else can back off....
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