• Disambiguation of the word "ghetto"


    Historian Says Don't 'Sanitize' How Our Government Created Ghettos


    "Interview Highlights

    On using the word "ghetto"

    One of the ways in which we forget our history is by sanitizing our language and pretending that these problems don't exist. We have always recognized that these were "ghettos." A ghetto is, as I define it, a neighborhood which is homogeneous and from which there are serious barriers to exit. That's the technical definition of a ghetto.

    Robert Weaver, the first African-American member of the Cabinet appointed by President Johnson as his secretary of Housing and Urban Development, described many of the policies that I've described today in a book he published in 1948 called The Negro Ghetto.

    The Kerner Commission referred to the ghetto.

    This is a term that we no longer use because we're embarrassed to talk about it, and we need to confront our history and stop sanitizing our language and talk openly about what we've done as a nation and what we need to do to undo it. And we can't talk openly if we're going to use euphemisms instead of being explicit about what the reality is."


    "In The Ghetto" by Elvis Presley

    As the snow flies
    On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
    A poor little baby child is born
    In the ghetto
    And his mama cries
    'cause if there's one thing that she don't need
    it's another hungry mouth to feed
    In the ghetto

    People, don't you understand
    the child needs a helping hand
    or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day
    Take a look at you and me,
    are we too blind to see,
    do we simply turn our heads
    and look the other way

    Well the world turns
    and a hungry little boy with a runny nose
    plays in the street as the cold wind blows
    In the ghetto

    And his hunger burns
    so he starts to roam the streets at night
    and he learns how to steal
    and he learns how to fight
    In the ghetto

    Then one night in desperation
    a young man breaks away
    He buys a gun, steals a car,
    tries to run, but he don't get far
    And his mama cries

    As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man
    face down on the street with a gun in his hand
    In the ghetto

    As her young man dies,
    on a cold and gray Chicago mornin',
    another little baby child is born
    In the ghetto

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