What’s up y’all, I’m Dyan Berry and I guess I’m a hoodrat. Urban Dictionary states that a hoodrat is “a person (usually a female) who exhibits a trashy or trifling demeanor.” It goes on to use other adjectives like “aggressive”, “promiscuous”, “ghetto”, and “unproductive”. I have been on Earth for quite some time, but it wasn’t until I brought myself to Purdue University that I was called a hoodrat TWICE. The first time, a girl (yes, she was) that my dad lives across the street from was introducing me to another one of her friends. Keep in mind I’ve known her for about five years, we even went to the same school for two of those years. She said, and I quote, “No like Dyan is a real hoodrat. Like, she lives where they shoot and stuff.” Really? The best part, she said it with a smile looking back and forth between me and the other girl. I guess she interpreted the word as having some type of endearment behind it. I assure you that my face told her otherwise. Then, I pretended to be texting and left because, I had to "help my friend settle in" I’m sure she got the message because it was the last one between us. I honestly had felt like she was pretty conscious about racial matters until that moment. The simple fact that she would judge me based on where I live disgusts me to my core.
Yeah, that left a bitter taste in my mouth, but the second time actually hurt my feelings. It’s one thing for these other people to be ignorant. It’s not acceptable, but it’s not rare either. But it’s an entirely different thing for another black person to say something like that. Overly complicated story short, this guy had overheard a conversation I was having about memories from my childhood. Next thing you know, he branded me with that word. I was in shock for a second, and then dusted it off. I would catch myself thinking about it over and over, even still sometimes. I understand I’m not from the best neighborhood, but a hoodrat though? After a while, I started to realize how aggressive I am, and a couple of behaviors that some might consider “ghetto”. I had actually tried to chill out and not act on every thought I had; the attempt was practically laughable. After a while, I just stopped caring. There is no need for me to change who I am based on other people’s feedback. Honestly, the situation has helped me stay more open minded about other people’s cultures and views. I care, but from a distance. I won’t let anyone’s words change my personality. Period.