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Ghettonation: Dispatches from America's Culture War

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  226 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
From the Introduction:

n. (Merriam-Webster dictionary) Italian, from Venetian dialect ghèto island where Jews were forced to live; literally, foundry (located on the island), from ghetàr, to cast; from Latin jactare to throw
1: a quarter of a city in which Jews were formerly required to live
a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live, especially
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Melodie M
Jul 13, 2007 Melodie M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read this book I was like "oh my god!" I've been thinking about how my generation is totally lost and need some guidance. It touches on some of the embarrassment that I feel for my people. The things that are portrayed in the media about "black folk" aren't always in the best light and it must be known that these behaviors don't summarize an entire race. I was actually on C-SPAN 2 on Book-TV (so funny). I attended a book discussion with the author Cora Daniels and of course I put my two c ...more
Mar 12, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: 5-star
Wow. This book is one of the best books I've ever read! Cora Daniels explores "ghetto" and takes us beyond every stereotype of what you might think ghetto is to show the prevalence of "being ghetto" in our culture today. Daniels make the case that ghetto is not a race issue, but rather a mindset that pervades every race, social class and income bracket. Ghetto isn't about being black or white, but about always aiming low and celebrating the worst in someone. She takes a serious problem in our so ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One definition of "ghetto" not covered directly but implied is the inability to interact with any culture not your own. Considering that I have heard that many of the kids in the poorest parts of a nearby town have never even been to the beautiful parks in the hills a few miles away, I can see how this happens. You can see the difference in how parents interact with their kids on the bus: some parents seem depressed, self-absorbed and just plain TIRED; these parents mostly just tell their kids t ...more
Dec 08, 2007 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What can be defined as ghetto? Location, race, economic status, all the above? Cora Daniels, NYC journalist and proud resident of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, goes on a journey to find all things ghetto. Her grounding assumption: ghetto is a mind-set or mentality. Hence why Gwyneth Paltrow, Jamie Foxx, Paris Hilton and others can join the ranks of folks who sport gigantic TVs bought with welfare checks, armored SUVs, do-rags, and live by the mantra "get rich or die trying".

In this journey she looks at
Jul 18, 2014 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
A good start, but I think Daniels could have gone a lot further in exploring "ghetto culture". It's not enough to point to infidelity and poor scholarship and announce that it's ghetto, but really explore how these came to exemplify what we call "ghetto". Is it a push back against the imposition of white middle-class values of going to college and getting married and starting a family? How is "ghetto culture" influenced by decaying inner cities and drug wars? Daniels said that ghetto isn't seen ...more
Jan 03, 2014 Colette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cora Daniels, an African-American, award-winning journalist who frequently appears on NPR, attempts to tackle the word "ghetto" by redefining it. Daniels turns the once noun into an adjective, proving, with research, that anyone (any race or any gender) can be ghetto. While her writing is engaging, I still struggle with that word, and thankfully, so does she as the end of the book. I feel this word is negative and thrown around in a much too casual way. However, I still appreciate her desire to ...more
Sep 19, 2008 Crystal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who LOVE to use the word ghetto, and people who are sick of hearing it
Recommended to Crystal by: Essence Magazine
I absolutely loved this book. There is nothing that irks me more than when people use the term "ghetto" so loosely. This book clearly pinpoints the meaning "ghetto" and explains it clearly. I am so tired of people attributing the word ghetto to images they see in the media, when in reality have no concept of the word's meaning. "Ghetto" is not just a black thing, and this book clearly addresses that, and is funny as hell.
Aug 07, 2007 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was looking forward to reading this book, but in the end I think the broadness of her attack on ghetto really gave the book too much breadth and not nearly enough depth. She was spot on about a lot of things and pretty entertaining, but in the end I didn't feel like I had learned anything new.
Apr 09, 2013 Tunde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great book. made me closely examine what makes and defines "ghetto". i liked the historical aspect of where the word came from. i always assumed it originated in the mid 20th century with the jews and nazis.
notes: ghetto as a mind-set (how, not where, one lives); jump from an impoverished physical landscape to an impoverished mental landscape over time; ghetto not limited by class or race; not living within your means because you think tomorrow doesn't matter (or could be worse); always thinking short-term; absence of self-respect; embracing the worst and aiming low; pride and embracing everything you are (good and bad) as a way to erase feeling marginalized/to feel empowered; adultescents; ghetto ...more
Jan 02, 2008 Audrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
I'm so embarrassed by the cover of this book, I had to take the dust jacket off in order to read it in public.
Dec 09, 2007 Samantha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those looking for superficial cultural knowledge.
Tell me something I DON'T know, Cora Daniels.
LonewolfMX Luna
Jul 02, 2009 LonewolfMX Luna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW!!! This book was funny, but in all seriousness it was mind blowing, because the term Ghetto isn't just reserved for Black and lower income people anymore the author Cora Daniels without mercy unleashes an attack on the Ghetto culture which has enslaved us all with portrayal of the "Ghettofabulous" life and how the culture of the inner cities has created lower expectations, instant gratification, and a culture of violence and neglect.

It is also funny that people who try to act Ghetto are not
O.G. Readmore
My status on this pretty much sums up my review; however, I will add that I understand where she's coming from and agree with her that there definitely needs to be a change in people's behavior and/or mindset. That never hurts. But for her to label every bad quality as ghetto just comes off as condescending and intellectually dishonest.

If you like pissing on poor folk mainly because you're embarassed by them and you are kind of classist, then his book may be up your alley. I think she could have
May 29, 2010 Meaghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is by far one of the best books I have read. Cora Daniels examines the culture of "ghetto," explaining that "ghetto" has become a mindset-- not a place-- that people of all races have taken on. In her belief, embracing this ghetto culture is detrimental to people of all races, but especially for blacks. She writes about babymamas, spinners more expensive than the car they are on, devalued education, gangsta imitation, pimps and hos halloween costumes, mothers swearing at two year-olds, and ...more
Mar 31, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cultural-theory
When did ghetto go mainstream? Cora Daniels, one of the first African- American journalists to tackle this cultural phenomenon, wonders how we got to the point where hiphop is a multi-billion-dollar industry, babymama is a household word and celebrities from Paris Hilton to Martha Stewart make ghetto references and sport ghetto accessories.

Ghetto culture was once isolated in the inner city, but now the whole world wants to get G'd up, and corporate America has been more than happy to oblige.

Oct 11, 2008 Lauren rated it liked it
I picked up Ghettonation because it fell squarely in between two of my favorite topics: popular culture and African-American issues. While much of what Daniels discusses isn't new (when we've got studio movies titled "Baby Mama" we know that the ghetto mindset has gone mainstream), she does a great job of naming what until now had been rather fuzzy for me. Her thesis: we as a country have embraced "ghetto-ness," and that's not a good thing.

I appreciate what Daniels is trying to do here and thin
Feb 02, 2010 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
and that'd be 2.5 stars if I hand that option.
I picked the book up because it was the most interesting title in reach when I desperately wanted a distraction from work. Writing about the mindset which has overwhelmed American culture, Daniels has an almost unique perspective in the literary world, one that is between ghetto and . . . whatever is the next step up. It was rather well-written; Daniel's familiar tone, amusing anecdotes, and the confirmation of held beliefs kept pages turning. A ligh
Jun 10, 2011 Dalia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I'm not usually into reading non-fiction very often, however, this was something I picked up at the library to write a paper on for my sociology class. Honestly I think the author did a fantastic job talking about "ghetto" today. This book is infused with humor but also a lot of real moments that make you question society and where we are going (and where we've been) I like the side notes and adored that this book was not a "I'm smarter than you" book. The author rela ...more
RK Byers
Nov 19, 2014 RK Byers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book could have done WITHOUT the quote(s) from RK Byers - whoever the hell HE is. some people's opinions just don't need to be broadcast!
Dec 01, 2012 Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compassionate call to us to understand and love the people trapped in a subculture, not of their own choosing. Compassionate call to those trapped in the subculture to rise up, and make a for themselves a new future and break the chains of ghetto for themselves and their future generations. LOVED IT CORA. You are a great writer, sparing no harsh truth, but lovingly hopeful that some in the ghetto will rise up, and those not in the ghetto will love, pray and support those in the ghetto who would ...more
Feb 07, 2008 Wysterria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
randomly saw this book come thru the delivery at the it in a few days and found it both educational and entertaining...she explores the reasons why acting ghetto has become a trend, why a lack of interest in being educated has come out of it, and why being ghetto and poor is being glamorized in the media. in between chapters, she has 'that's so ghetto' lists and if you go to her website you can add your own 'ghetto sightings'. overall, i really enjoyed this book.
This book was one of the best on modern day African American culture. A must read for any urban middle/high school teacher.
Feb 05, 2008 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'd recommend Enough by Juan Williams before this.

Ghetto isn't a black thing, and not solely a black problem, but it is a part of the problem that so many people are willing to settle for so little.
Feb 22, 2009 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was, in a word, amazing. It was also eye-opening, informative, and spot-on true about the state of Ghettonation today. Ghetto is everywhere - it's in our music, our language, and the way we dress. It's everywhere we look and in everything we do and hear. You might think you're above it, but chances are there is some part of you that is ghetto. A fascinating, wonderful book.
Francesca Brown
Aug 02, 2011 Francesca Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read! Cora did a superb job of analyzing all that is ghetto nation in only 196 pages. I find the fact that she urges people to realize that "ghetto" isn't defined by race or socio-economic boundaries super important: we all are guilty of "ghetto" behavior at times but our country is overdosing on it, which in my opinion, will inevitably lead to the downfall of our nation.
Jul 27, 2010 Jen rated it liked it
I would have done 3.5 stars if possible. Ghettonation is a critique of the marketing of "ghetto" and "ghetto" mentality. It's an extremely easy read and I think the audience she's writing for is younger, and not well versed on social critique. It's a good book, but it could be better.
Mar 17, 2008 Kendra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow - i am loving this book. Fantastic read. I'm reading a couple other books right now that haven't hooked - this one did from page one. General idea is that ghetto has become a mindset and a marketing tool. It has little to do with where you live and your ethnicity.
Nov 30, 2008 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I L-O-V-E this book. I laughed, cried, and was inspired to make change in the community in which I live. Ghetto, ghettoness, and ghetto mentality is clearly depicted in such a way that it trancends time and race. Phenomenal commentary. A definite quick must read.
Interesting review of the current emphasis on "ghetto", and its prevalence in America, particularly the African-American community. Most of the notes were familiar, but it was put together in an interesting theme.
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