Hip Hop Help
June 16, 2016 – The editors at WikiHow are no doubt searching for ways to put out PR fires after the backlash aimed at a recent article on the popular DIY instructional site prompted a quick deletion. Social media commenters were quick to condemn the post for its reliance on tired stereotypes about African American speech, dress and culture. Much of the website’s content is curated by an online community of WikiHow users so there was no one author to attributed to the post. The piece consisted of a series of tips on how to “cultivate the appearance” and “attitude” necessary to be considered “ghetto”.
In addition to rules for which accessories go with what “ghetto” appropriate outfit, there were suggestions on “ghetto dancing”, looking “well paid even when you’re not” and walking with an “I don’t care” attitude. The guide also included these helpful tips presumably to help readers make the most of their newly acquired ghetto status:
“Being ghetto does not involve breaking the law or being disrespectful in how you act or dress.”“Keep your language fun and playful; avoid using derogatory terminology when addressing others.”
Several Twitter users saw the post as an example of racist hate speech and were not shy about calling out the website for publishing the article. Despite featuring illustrations of mostly white people adopting “ghetto” behavior the tips relied heavily on a subtext of black inferiority implying that along with the affectations of hip hop culture came the stereotypical black aversions to things like steady employment, non-slang inflected speech and size-appropriate clothing.
@wikiHow instead of articles like “How to be ghetto” maybe How to know if an individual or organization is practicing/perpetuating racism.
— MaroonVillage (@maroonvillage) June 14, 2016
— Mic (@mic) June 14, 2016
Although it employs a peer review process for determining what items fail to meet its editorial standards, WikiHow is known for publishing a variety of tutorials on a number of problematic activities including “How to be a skinhead.” While the “How to be Ghetto” guide has since been deleted it will live on in browser caches in perpetuity.