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How to Create a Ghetto – a Dish for one Community

First, find some third generation immigrants,
Add some racism and confused cultural identity,
Mix – to create poverty.

Next, find narrow minds and an unwillingness to change,
Add bad parenting –
Allow to simmer.

In teenage males stir in low educational achievements,
A macho street ethos,
And a refusal to think for oneself.

Use plenty of blame culture (hint: it’s everyone else’s fault),
Bring to the boil.

Now, in a separate container,
Mix bright women, aspirations, a willingness to adapt:
Throw in employment, hard work, morality,
Allow to ferment.

Place beside your boiling mixture.

Add a plentiful helping of drugs, general thievery and joy-riding,
Beat violently with extreme religion,
Touch feebly with religious and community leaders
Then leave well alone.

Finally, get some inadequates,
Watch the creation of an identity through destruction,
Apply to local shops, churches and pubs –

Let the decent evaporate away.

Wash hands of all responsibility,
Serve with large helpings of blindness and self-pity.

November 2001

This might seem like quite a cruel poem, but is based on personal observation (the Asian area where I live went through a very bad patch and at one time was heading downhill).


First-generation immigrants are hard-working and have fixed cultural and religious values, the second-generation question but still work reasonably hard, whilst the third generation are lost. They don’t belong to their birth culture or to the host culture and find themselves aspiring to materialism but barred from attaining it.


The second-generation don’t have cultural or religious certainties and their confusion affects their parenting. For third generation teenage males this leads to lack of direction and identity and a resulting emphasis on materialism and machismo.


Teenage women are much more grown-up – they have high aspirations, work hard, have higher morality (perhaps through greater social coercion or perhaps because women are intrinsically more spiritual) and find it comparatively easy to get jobs. Their success compared to the failure of teenage males makes the males feel even more inadequate.


Add in criminality, a dash of extreme religion, and community and religious leaders who are completely out of touch, find some losers who want to look good in front of their mates and who go around destroying everything and the decent people slowly drift away as bingo! a ghetto is created.

14 Comments     0 Pings

By sizeka at cput Tue Jul 31st 2012 at 3:36 am  

i loved the poem very nice its to the point and its true in so many ways

By thandi mbokazi Tue Jul 24th 2012 at 4:22 am  

what a great recipe of truth,big up man nice poem very nice

By Assad Tue Sep 20th 2011 at 11:44 pm  

This is a great poem… You tell it how you see it and you really do get your message across, It’s truly a great one, probably your best. keep up the great writing mate 🙂

By Hayley Sun Jun 19th 2011 at 10:07 am  

Ok, well to begin with I really enjoyed your poem. Brave, true and an honest expression of YOUR life experience, and obviously not put out here to hurt anyone. I neither found it racist, sexist or offensive. Simply an observation, and a clever one at that. The truth is, this really is happening ALL OVER THE WORLD, regardless of race.

By NA Mon Apr 25th 2011 at 6:47 pm  

This is super helpful, I understand where you’re coming from in this poem too, i grew up in a so clled “Ghetto” had a lot of “Ghetto” friends, just recently i moved WAYY out of state to like a whole new place where there is black majority and i can very well say there are different Ghettos, over here where i live now it’s a black ghetto community with gangs and fights where they believe that there never was a more dangerous place than here…excuse my language but WTF!……I understand the ghetto thing but that doesn’t mean that i person that has never been out of that community can say that their hometown is the ghettoest place ever!….Back where i used to live it was a minority of black but a high concentration of Arabs – they believed that “they wuz ghetto as hell” too so there you have it…not towards black it can be Asians, Middle Easterners, Mexicans, South Americans, Canadians- wherever it may be…………..ANYWAYS this is a great example of a political poem showing how the community is now and how certain words affect people (eg: alleged “racism against blacks” said in most comments) and yes its true the next generation will get only half the morals and life lessons than the last but it is also true that they will gain something the last generation didnt have.

By NA Wed Nov 24th 2010 at 9:00 am  

This poem is clearly sexist, on what kind of evidence do you base your argument that third generation females are the only ones to thrive in a harsh environment. This is obviously a generalization. Of course the factor of the “Macho” stereotype applies to the majority of crime, however, one must consider that with this poem, you are not promoting gender equality. In fact, I know many males from this sort of backgrounds who went to university and have successfully achieved a more than adequate standard of living.

By admin Thu Nov 25th 2010 at 7:12 am  

I also know many males blah blah blah.

I actually live in this community and this is what I’ve seen.

From your POV it’s a sexist community, where the women are more constrained by social mores than the males. Can’t do anything about that; that’s the way it is. That’s the way it works.

Why should I want to promote gender equality? And does promoting gender equality mean writing airy fairy fiction?

By N/A Thu Apr 1st 2010 at 4:11 pm  

That is some B.S i cant beleive they posted that …. . I am black i live in the so called “ghetto” all that stuff goes on and most of us still make it out to do good things with our lives….so a little advice for whoever wrote that dont let the ghetto-ness fool you….being raised in the ghetto is better than being raised in a suburban neighborhood having everything handed to you…here we dont have that and it pushes us harder to get out look at some of these rich whites people loosing everything going to jail all types of stuff so they aint no better in my eyes…same things goes on in the so called “Ghetto” but aint nobody talking about what goes on in the suburbs….think about that

By admin Sat Apr 3rd 2010 at 1:39 pm  

Ummm – this wasn’t aimed at black people. Believe it or not you can have ghettoes of all sorts of different races. Any group of immigrants, for example. Where I live it’s people from the Indian subcontinent, and yes, I lived a few hundred yards from the core and it’s not BS, the first generation had spiritual values, the second has semi-spiritual values, and a huge part of the third generation (of males) has lost the plot completely with joyriding, drugs and general yobbery. Some of them I knew from little children. The third-generation females, on the other hand, have by and large not lost the plot and are out there getting jobs (or bringing up children).

We can debate why this has happened – Westernisation, rigid patriarchal institutions crumbling, male loss of identity, male spiritual weakness, the long time it takes males to mature as opposed to females, the more focussed expectations on women (get married by age 22 and have kids) – but it’s happening.

By N/A Sat Nov 7th 2009 at 2:02 pm  

I understand, I’ve been there myself, I’ve seen it and experienced it. I was raised in it, but did not allow it to define me.

By N/A Fri Nov 6th 2009 at 2:23 am  

I really do not think this is directed to black people, and if it was the writer has little knowledge on the subject matter. Maybe the writer saw a TV special and has declared himself an expert. Black, Brown, White, Yellow, whatever mix in between; we all have groups that live in poverty. They are just named differently, ie: ghetto, bario, trailer park. So, no one cultural race can ever be better than another, because we all have our best and our worst.

By admin Fri Nov 6th 2009 at 2:02 pm  

Nice comment. Seriously.

Like I’ve said, this is actually what happened in the area where I live, and for ten years I lived in the poor bit.

By Ladaesha ; Fri Sep 25th 2009 at 7:45 pm  

i find this ” poem ” very offensive to the african american race it’s directed to , you sound like a lowclass idiot who doesn’t know what there talking about . I myself am a black women who grew up in one of those neighborhoods , and I am very successful . You are stereotypeing black people . Who are you to say this ? i can be an asshole as well . but i have way more class . 🙂

By admin Sat Sep 26th 2009 at 3:19 pm  

Really? You think this is addressed at African Americans? Not where I live, it’s a different racial group entirely. And you think all third generation immigrants are like that? No way! But there’s a pattern among a substantial minority if you look, and I’m pointing out that pattern. It might be offensive to you but the pattern’s there. The community I live in experienced these problems for a couple of years until a lot of effort was made to address them and they faded away

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