I realize we all live in a bubble at Colgate, one that does breed ignorance, especially to issues that are beyond our personal experiences. An example of the ignorance such unawareness breeds was found on the front page of The Maroon-News. Under a Gamma Phi Beta sorority picture, there was a caption that read, “Welcome To The Hood.” Having a picture of almost all white girls with a caption that says “Welcome To The Hood” is very ignorant because the “hood'” is most commonly used to describe low-income communities, usually found in urban areas and often associated with stereotypes placed on communities of color. It’s disrespectful to carelessly use language that has specific social and political connotations because it seems like they’re parodying the “hood” or the people who belong to one. To further illustrate the issue with using the word “hood,” it is imperative to understand its stereotypes and history. What stereotypes immediately come to mind about the hood are poor black and Latino people, people who are uneducated, people who are excluded, people who are rowdy or violent, people on welfare and people whose neighborhoods are disregarded.
These stereotypes stem from a social change in the 1960s and 70s, when under the label of “urban renewal,” the federal government funded the destruction of long-standing, vibrant, ethnic inner-city neighborhoods in cities across the country, either opening up space for commercial development or highway construction, and relocating tens of thousands of residents (mostly black and Latino) to isolated housing developments in less desirable locations. As a result of the isolation of these people and the neglect of their issues, cycles of poverty, despair and violence became permanent facts of life. The “hood” is more than just a word – it is something that represents a history of oppression and considering the stereotypes thus associated with this word, it is extremely inappropriate to use it to describe economically privileged white girls in a sorority. Which brings me to the issue of how a caption like that was printed on the front page of our newspaper without a second thought?
At the end of the day, I don’t care about who wrote the caption, I just want people to understand that it was offensive and perpetuates stereotypes as well as potentially insults low income students and students of color. The purpose of this article is to encourage critical thinking about the language we use, especially on the front page of our newspaper and encourage people to think about how students in our community are affected by them. In addition to that, the purpose is to give suggestions for words that could be used in lieu of hood in order to stress how easy it would have been to simply replace it. Here are fifty:
Welcome To… sisterhood, Greek life, friendship, togetherness, our sorority, our party, our club, our organization, our circle, our clique, our coalition, our union, our community, our society, our aggregation, our company, our crew, our house, our squad, our team, our conglomerate, our gang, our abode, our chambers, our place, our partnership, our neighborhood, our home, our institution, our group, our bunch, our pack, our posse, our coterie, our crowd, our unit, our cluster, our league, our fellowship, our guild, our coven, our congregation, our amalgamation, our neck of the woods, our order, our cabal, our caucus, our bunch, our horde, our band.
Contact Melissa Meléndez at [email protected]