Monday, May 16, 2011
Dirty Ghetto Kids
I've fought for as long as I could. But it's over now. I have to accept the fact that I am comfortably couched in middle age where I feel the chasm between me and young people widening to the point that I have become one of the adults of my childhood who just didn't get the young folk of my day. A trip to the mall has me SMH and asking WTH is really going on in the world today.
The other day I was doing something out of character: walking through the mall. Contrary, to popular belief, I am not a woman who loves to shop, but I needed to pick up a couple of items and was in no hurry as I strolled through Chicago Ridge Mall when I happened upon a store called Zumez. In the window was a mannequin wearing a white, girl's t-shirt with red "Dirty Ghetto Kids" lettering. I stood there stuck in the moment as all-kinds-of-ways it was wrong smacked me all upside my head. I walked away. But I came back. I had to find out about the shirt.
A white young man in an over-sized red t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap turned sideways explained to me that the shirt was part of DGK line. He enthusiastically shared with me his love for DGK and how many DGK shirts he owned. Discomfort must have registered on my face because he said, "You don't like DGK?" I shook my head. He said the girls didn't like the shirt either but he'd like to see all girls in DGK. I nodded not knowing what to say and I left.
DGK is a line of skate boards and apparel founded by Stevie Williams, an African-American professional skateboarder who pays "homage to his Philly days when he and his skate crew would be taunted at skate spots throughout the city. . ." An unsubstantiated online story is that when a skater did a trick on his board and lost it, the "dirty ghetto kids" would run off with the board. Even if the story isn't true,I can't embrace "dirty ghetto kids" as positive.
In my work as an educator I am bothered by the number of children who show up to school dirty every day--matted, uncombed, broken-off hair; shoes with no strings and no socks; clothes so dingy it's hard to tell what the original color was; lunch stains from Monday's lunch and it's Thursday. These children look bad, smell bad and become fodder for conversation among faculty and students.
These "dirty ghetto kids" remind me of our short coming as a nation; that we continue to fail certain segments of our population and write them off as worthless. So, now we have a black man exploiting a marginalized segment of the population for financial gain by hocking his wares to skateboarders, many of whom are white and think it's cool to wear DGK.
Is something wrong with this picture or am I old, out of touch and just a wee bit sensitive?