Someone at Work Said I looked "Ghetto Fabulous"

posted 2 years ago in African-American
Post # 31
1513 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2016

Yeah it’s the ghetto part that was out of line. I’m not one to easily let things go so I’d have to say something. I like “hey what you said the other day bothered me” as a PP suggested. And maybe educate her on what the word actually means (assuming she didn’t know) so she won’t use it again.

Post # 32
218 posts
Helper bee

curiouscat2017 :  She must be on a special level of stupid to think calling her coworker “ghetto fabulous” is a good idea. And then turn around to the white coworker and just say “fabulous”

I think it’s pretty gross.

Post # 34
682 posts
Busy bee

That dress looks pretty and not ghetto, and I would be insulted if someone said that to me. Maybe she thought the term was positive, though, or maybe she is just passive-aggressive.

Post # 35
4973 posts
Honey bee

Overjoyed :  Im assuming she is white (I am too) but she is also a moron. I once had to tell someone that a term she used for stealing was super offensive to Jewish people. I won’t print here. In front of customers. We all were shocked and when I told her why it was offensive she was embarrassed. The point being  people really need to pay attention to what they say and understand history and what things mean.

There really is no excuse for that kind of ignorance. There’s Google available.

It’s up to you if you’re comfortable with saying something. I personally stopped taking backhanded compliments. But theres a different context here with a racial element. And it’s hard for me to say what you should do. Maybe go with your gut. But hopefully SHE looked it up herself after…but then you deserve an apology. You can also keep note of it and see if a pattern emerges. I hope she’s not in management. 


Post # 36
173 posts
Blushing bee

reminded me of this

I have a feeling that she didn’t mean to be offensive. She just used a word she had heared and thought she would sound cool. Still innapropriate.

Post # 37
253 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2018

I’m inclined to ask if the non-ghetto fabulous outfit was on a white girl but I’m pretty sure I know the answer. 

People and their passive racism never ceases to amaze me. Just look at all the people who tell you to get over it. And you will, because you’re probably used to it in some form or another. But that doesn’t make it okay. I feel very similar when people tell me I look like a little China doll. Conditioned to accept it as a compliment, but bitch I’m not even Chinese. 

Post # 38
5567 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2017

It’s hard to tell if it was purposeful or just ignorance.

Either way, it’s up to you when you choose to address it. I like pps suggestion of saying that you don’t think she knows what the term means, if you decide to do it now.

if it was ignorance, hopefully your response will stop her from saying it again but if it happens again, I would definitely say something.

Post # 39
862 posts
Busy bee

Overjoyed :  That’s so racist. I’m going to make some assumptions that you identify as a person of color and she identifies as white. 

I may try to let it go and have a prepared response for if she says anything of the sort again. When someone says something offensive to me, I’m usually too flabbergasted to respond. So I try to have a prepared response for the next time. 

“You look ghetto fabulous!”

“… huh. Is that a compliment? Are you saying that because I’m Black?” 

She’ll quickly become uncomfortable and realize what she said wasn’t appropriate. 

Post # 40
6292 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2014

Overjoyed :  IMO yes it’s rude, and on top of that, it absolutely has racist undertones. Would she have said that a white colleague looked ‘ghetto fabulous’? I doubt it.

How offended I was may depend on how she reacted to my expression and asking for her to repeat herself (ie was she embarrassed about it?) and whether or not there had been any other incidents/comments. She may well have been trying to be ‘cool’ and ws simply being ignorant and not really understood the implications of the comment; I would probably lean towards that assessment if she has not previously made similar comments.

Post # 41
1406 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

Overjoyed :  I mean she definitely could have been trying to be offensive, I think you might could gauge that better than we could since you work with her & know how she usually acts. I just know lots of people who say racist comments without *meaning* to be offensive (I live in the south..sigh). I think many people don’t even realize that they are being racist when they say certain things. It’s sad, dumb, and ignorant, but I just know from experience people who are like that.

Post # 42
5109 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2014

Based on her reaction, I’d be inclined to think that she just doesn’t know the definition of the term or was trying to be “cool” and use a slang term with a black woman. Since this term is used in songs and has been adopted into hip hop culture, she may have assumed it was a compliment. I have a hard time believing that she meant to offend you with the statement, even if prejudices were the driver behind her using the term. I’d probably let it go for now unless you really can’t get it out of your mind, but if she uses the term again or tries to slang talk with you again, set her straight on what these words mean and what they imply. 

That dress is gorgeous though. Certainly fabulous and not ghetto.

Post # 43
669 posts
Busy bee

I mean. I would know not to say that to a black woman/women. Or man.

I grew up very poor and mostly with very poor black children… Just was kind of an unspoken of word. “Ghetto”. Including many other slang terms. Just don’t say it. It isn’t really necessary to add certain words in general to get the point across. What I have learned in my life. You don’t have to add race specific terms to your conversation or comments… Just say it like you would to anyone.

So maybe I know better from my own experiences… OR… I just use… common sense! 

I would just tell her she shouldn’t say things like that. Afterall thats HR worthy.

Post # 44
1631 posts
Bumble bee

prism :  the thing is I’ve seen white people call white people ghetto fabulous as a compliment for pretty normal outfits. These same white people try very hard to use phrases like “lit” in front of other white people, and then when you ask them what they mean they admit they don’t really know what it means or how to use it properly. 

I can imagine these same people going up to an African American person and trying to use ghetto fabulous in a patronizing “hey see I can use slang!” sort of way. 

I think the part where she didn’t use it on another coworker can be chalked up to it falling flat with OP and realizing when she was challenged to explain the term that it might not be received as a compliment. 

It’s dumb and racist. 

Post # 45
383 posts
Helper bee

I think its offensive and if she says it again I would talk to her about it.

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