Even though some words aren’t defined as racial epithets per se, you can still find yourself in serious trouble for using them in the wrong context or if said by the wrong person. Calling someone “ghetto” can be troubling regardless of the mouth it’s coming out of, particularly when a white person uses it about a person of color.
A Michigan councilwoman became the latest example during a recent committee meeting after other members described her actions as unprofessional and offensive for referring to a Black colleague as “ghetto” under her breath. According to MLive, Flint’s Ninth Ward Councilwoman Eva Worthing made the comment last week after allegedly feeling “threatened” by comments made by Fifth Ward Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter.
For reference, Worthing is white and Winfrey-Carter is Black. The outlet reported that Sixth Ward Councilwoman Tonya Burns initially caught wind of the comment and decided to repeat it, adding, “To say ghetto and to say it so easily and to laugh about it, that disturbs me.” Burns elaborated by commenting further, “That’s just wrong … You teach children, and you’re comfortable saying ‘ghetto’?”
Worthing issued a half-hearted apology in a now-deleted Facebook post, calling it a “knee-jerk reaction.” She also insisted that calling someone ghetto isn’t inherently racist.
‘No one can tell ME how I used that term but me and it is NOT a term that is inherently racist,’ the statement says. ‘I normally do not use language like that in the first place. I am angry at myself … I wish I had handled this better. I am very hard on myself. I’m still upset about it today. However, this one moment does not define me. I will continue to work hard for the residents of my ward.’”
As reported by the Detroit News, Worthing tried to pull the reverse racism card, alleging that she has been called a “nasty white woman” repeatedly and sidestepped her own actions. The outlet quoted Worthing as saying it was just frustration, and she was surprised the word even came out of her mouth.
The initial comment derived from a disagreement in how appointed leader Winfrey-Carter was conducting the meeting. Worthing felt aggravated that her colleague “refused to ask [Flint] city clerk how to properly chair the meeting.”
Other council members told the Detroit Metro Times that this was not a surprising move on Worthing’s part, noting that she and former councilmember Allan Griggs have made derogatory comments in the past. Councilman Eric Mays, who is Black, told the outlet the council might need an agenda item to address matters of race.
Regardless of how you feel in any heated situation, name-calling is never the answer.
White Michigan Councilwoman Gets Backlash For Referring To Black Colleague As “Ghetto” was originally published on blackamericaweb.com