Ratchet Definition via Tumblr

Ratchet Definition via Tumblr

Trying to explain what “ratchet” means to a group of non-black friends (bi-racial, Indian, and Filipino to be exact) was more difficult than carrying two cups of water through the desert without drinking any. It was like talking to a brick wall. They were convinced that being ratchet is a mix of “charisma, not caring about what people think of you, and having an I don’t give a fu*k attitude,” in their exact words.

Ratchet is such a common word it can be used to describe just about anything:

You have a cart full of groceries, yet you’re in the express 15-item line… #ratchet

You get into an argument with someone at a red light because they didn’t let you over… #ratchet

You’re late to the morning meeting at work and you come in and decide to finish eating your homemade breakfast from a tupperware container… #ratchet

You see ratchet can be just about anything. However the label mainly falls on a black women who are boisterous, obscene, or easily volatile. One quick internet search of the term ratchet will reveal a slew of self-made videos, pictures, and comments about or geared towards mainly black women. The problem is the ever-growing trend of being ratchet is not only acceptable but it’s glamorized. It’s safe to say the term derived from the desensitizing and entertainment programming of girl-fighting, bottle tossing, hair pulling, verbally abusing, and global humiliation that is reality TV. Not everyone thinks or associates all black women with being ratchet…but the reality is globally this is how we are seen through the lens of reality TV and worldwide viral videos.

The term “ratchet” as comical of a word as it is, is so closely associated with black women that it can potentially taint the perspective of a man’s interest in dating a black women and skew her image in society overall. After countless examples of how the term ratchet is a huge detriment to black women, I kindly informed my group of diverse friends that calling me ratchet is the equivalent of calling me “ghetto.”

By the time the conversation ended, we all came to the conclusion that on the surface ratchet is the new word for “ghetto” and beyond the surface ratchet is nothing more than the new public display of people willing to subject themselves to coonery.


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  • Please forgive my typos.

  • Hear Me

    Oh so I guess you thought that people were acting like upstanding citizens before the word “ratchet” came into popularity?

    Why don’t we stop shaming Black people for doing things that other non-White people do too? The only thing Black people are guilty of is being judged more harshly by society for everything and anything that they do.

    • Ads

      On the same point – the author explains to a bunch of non black people certai behaviors, which they characterize positively, then she has to go and say no actually its bad and derogatory to black women, and that’s how ack women are seen by thewhole world. Clealry, by that slice of ‘the whole world’ represented by her non-black friends, no one but her is seeing black women in a derogatory light. Stop projecting negativity back on urself. Do you, enjoy it, be ‘boisterous’ or be timid – but do it for you and forget everyone else. And maybe that’s a ‘ratchet’ sentiment… But if ratchet is a lack of embarrassment, then i’ll be that.

  • Misshightower

    For gawd’s sake, can’t we just put this word to bed and move on. We obsess about the damnest things!!!