I grew up in the ghetto, a fact I avoided revealing when I was younger and still trying to fit in with my peers. I was fine with where I came from until I went to varsity and met kids from the “more polished” side of society. Most kids I went to high school with were from similar backgrounds so we told similar stories about our upbringing and laughed at the same jokes. It was when I finished high school that I realised that there is a whole world of stuff that I wasn’t taught when I was young. I’ve decided to give a shout-out to my ghetto brothers and sisters and need to tell you that sometimes being “civilised” is overrated. Sometimes you just have to dig deep and let the ghetto in you get through somethings. I know that some of the following applies to any person but for us, the struggle with all of these is real.
Here’s a bit of advice:
I love sushi with same passion as I hate chopsticks. I grew up eating with my fingers except on special occasions when we had rice and chicken and we used spoons for the rice and fingers for the chicken. We didn’t even use knife and fork. How could I use cutlery if I was to suck the marrow out and thoroughly chew the bones? So most of my eating was done with no extra instruments and now I have to balance my food between 2 sticks and risk it landing every where else except in my mouth? It’s not about embarrassment for me, it’s about the price of sushi and the fact that I can’t really apply the 5 second rule in a restaurant and pick it up quick. My advice, order the sushi, wash your hands and dig in!!!
When I was growing up, the trendy shoes were these plastic/jelly shoes called “sandak.” A lot of people in my generation where I grew up bought their first pair of heels when they started working. We then discovered that heels are not for everyone. In life, you are going to be told that certain occasions need heels otherwise it’s better not to even attend. But I say to you, what good it is to go to an event where you will look like you’re constipated the whole time because you’re trying to keep yourself from screaming from the pain in your feet, ankles and calves? I often see women walking like they are climbing a mountain because either they just can’t walk in heels or their feet are killing them. Seriously, WHY???My advice, rock your flats, define your own “classy” and go out to enjoy yourself.
It’s fine if pets are not your thing
Where I grew up, dog food or vet’s bills were not in our budget. It wasn’t really a money thing but animals were just not “part of the family” the same way as humans were. People who did have dogs had them for security reasons not to curl up with on the sofa or bed. We didn’t hate animals, we just valued humans more. Now, in the civilised world things are different. Dogs get millions of dollars left to them in wills and they eat gourmet dog food. If you are a ghetto sista like me, don’t feel like you have to go kissing people’s dogs or let them lick all your make-up off your face. It’s cool to just say, “hey Cocooo.”(or whether the dog is called), from a distance and explain that you are not used to dogs or cats or whatever.
Order enough food
I was invited to a friend’s birthday dinner where we were going to have a 6 course gourmet dinner. (I also learnt later in life that the “t” in gourmet is silent). Anyway I was worried about whether I would be able to finish all that food, 6 courses? I was prepared to have left-overs for days and I even wore loose clothing to make room. On the day, we get there and guess what, the food is brought in the biggest plates I have even seen and the food is just a tiny drop in the middle of the plate!! At first I think this is just for tasting but the real food is coming later. Lo and behold, that was one course gone, it didn’t even reach the back of my mouth! Gourmet food! There was deconstructed pie and all the other stuff I couldn’t even pronounce. Why must you deconstruct anything, if you want to give me pie just give me the flippin’ pie, a constructed one. Preferably not baby portions! Now I’m sitting there wondering where the nearest KFC is so I can get me some proper food after this joke of a dinner. I can see on the faces of some of my ghetto homies that this joke of a meal is really not going down but we have to act all civilised and shit, smiling at the waiters and thanking them each time they bring a course of bits of crumbs in the middle of the plate. There is soft romantic music playing in the background and I even worn heels for this. The bill comes and you would not believe the amounts!. I watch a lot of TV so I keep thinking that maybe there are hidden cameras somewhere and they are playing a joke on us wanting to see how we will to react. But friends, it was no joke, they took our money and smiled at us at the door and told us to come again soon. Yeah right!! I have never laughed as hard as I did when we all finally realised that we were thinking of the nearest burger joint of KFC or something. Normally when it’s some one’s birthday we split the birthday person’s bill but on that day no one was in the mood.
My advice, find out what sort of food and what sort of portions they serve before you go. When you get there, EAT. Eat until you are full. Don’t eat like a bird because you think it’s not ladylike.
Be proud of your ghetto past
When I realised that the way I grew up was not typical of every person’s childhood I was shocked. When I was in primary school it was completely normal to go to the neighbours house to watch tv. We would ask them to put our meat in their fridge because we didn’t have a fridge. I went through the phase of watching Macgyver, The A Team, Walker Texas Ranger etc from the neighbours’ tv. Now when I told people about this some would look at me like, duuuude, where on earth did you grow up? No tv?? There was a strong temptation to embellish certain truths about my childhood many times over the years. Now I couldn’t care less about what people think about how I grew up. Those were fun times. I’m actually finding the civilised world too ,limiting with its etiquette and manners and shit. Where I grew up, if someone offended you, you’d just wait for them at the school gate and beat the shit out of them and move on with life. If they managed to beat the shit out of you, you would just hide for a few days because of the embarrassment and then just move on when there is a new scandal on the street. Now people are all about let’s sit down and talk it out because it’s good manners and what not.
Toy store? You mean not everyone had to make their own toys with plastic paper, newspaper, wires, empty food containers etc? Hell, my kids are not going to see the inside of a toy store, DIY that bitch, toy store my ass. And the playground is wherever there is space to play. Who’s got time to fence off an area and put slides and shit. Make your own slide and learn to be innovative.
Use a language and accent you are comfortable with
For some of my African brothers and sisters speaking good English in an American/ British accent is everything. It’s even better when they can’t speak their mother-tongue well. It’s supposed to show that they grew up in the right neighbourhoods and went to the right schools and apparently it’s a measure of how intelligent one is. People spend too much time trying to sound right than giving meaning to the actual content of their words. One thing they don’t realise is that it’s better to have an authentic ghetto accent than some half-baked, pathetic attempt at imitating some other people. I am Shona and I know the British are not practising the Shona accent, why must I waste time practising to sound British? I have enough English to communicate my thoughts and that’s good enough. If English fails me, there are translators out there for a reason.
So there you have it people. Doesn’t it just take a load of your shoulders knowing you don’t have to spend so much time being “appropriate”? Speak the way you want, eat whatever you want, as much as you want. Wear whatever you want, if some of it is plastic and you like it who cares? Rock whatever hairstyle you want, even if it’s 5 colours and 5 hairstyles in one and you like it who cares?