Back in 2012, Philip and Emmanuel Houston dropped a banger: Ratchet Girl Anthem.
Feminist Sidebar: This song is problematic in many ways. There is a great article, by Chinwe, explaining why. Rather than being redundant, I encourage you to read “Why do so many black male comedians go viral by mocking and imitating black women?”
Nonetheless, after this song dropped, “She RAAATCHET” became my catchphrase of choice. Considering this video, to date, has over 13 million views, I think it’s safe to say that I wasn’t the only one screaming, “She RAAATCHET.”
According to Philip and Emmanuel, “Ratchet is basically a lack of home training- being out in public like you don’t have any sense.” I disagree. I’d argue that ratchet is being your authentic self; not caring what people think of you.
I’ve been on a “reclaiming” trip lately, so in that spirit, I’d like to reclaim the word “ratchet” too.
In my last post, “Just Wanna Do Hoodrat Stuff,” I reflected on the time when it is most socially acceptable to be “ratchet.” Yes, you guessed it: college. In college, you can do hoodrat stuff for four to six years or if you Shizz Kelly’n (IUP reference) it like a decade and you get a pass. You basically can do whatever you want and be excused from people passing judgment on you. But as soon as you walk across that stage and receive your diploma you have to start thinking about what other people think of you; or at least that is what we’re taught to believe.
Don’t get me wrong. I know we have to grow up, mature and act like we have some sense and home training. I see no issue in that. What bothers me is that, once we start worrying about what other people think of us, we also start to chip away at our authentic souls.
That’s not okay.
We deserve to be as “ratchet” as we want to be, as long as we want to be. Those in the last leg of their life re-embrace being “ratchet.” We all know that one older person who doesn’t give a F*ck [p.s. Sorry for the language, Grammy]. I want to be that person, but not at age 70. I want to be that person; today, tomorrow and at age 70.
I slowly am becoming that person.
I think it’s about time we start listening to our “Inner Ratchet,” aka our authentic, don’t give a F*ck soul [p.s. Sorry for the language, Grammy].
Listening to your “Inner Ratchet” can serve you well in life.
You’re in your mid-30’s at an event and your hit comes on. Now, you know back in college, you could twerk with the best of them but you decide to sit in your chair- with that stank face- because you don’t want others to look at you sideways.
If you find yourself in this situation, think: what would my inner ratchet do? Your inner ratchet would say, “go pop-lock-and-drop it like it’s nobody’s business.” Because it’s not. Dance like no one’s watching, even if they are, because you deserve to enjoy those few moments of authenticity. It will re-charge you and allow you to weather the storm of adulthood.
A more serious example:
You’re 25 and hate your job. Well, maybe not your job… just the oppressive, pretentious assholes [p.s. Sorry for the language, Grammy]… I mean people who suck the soul out of the safe haven you and your colleagues have created. In this moment, you can sell your soul to the devil, for security, or you can say F*ck it [p.s. Sorry for the language, Grammy], quit your job, save your soul and live your life. That’s what I did and I’m doing okay.
In that moment, I listened to my “Inner Ratchet,” spoke my truth and made sure everyone heard it. I allowed myself not to be silent out of fear that people would look at my sideways. In fact, people did look at my sideways, up and down, and all around. But, my “Inner Ratchet” didn’t allow me to care. I was being my authentic self and guess what. I slept fine that night.
Authenticity scares people. We live in a judgmental world. We allow other people’s opinions to dictate our actions. It’s time to stop. It’s time to be ratchet- however you define it- and enjoy every second of being your authentic self.
The choice to listen to your “Inner Ratchet” is not for the faint of heart. People will look at you sideways, up and down, and all around. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in Liberal spaces where I often get a pass for keeping it funky, so this advice may not work in Corporate America or other spaces where your success is determined by your ability to play the White man’s game.
My “Inner Ratchet” taught me a lesson that I live by: “If I’m not welcomed in this space for being who I am, this is not a space where I need to be.”
I’ve accepted the fact that there are spaces where my authentic self will be critiqued and not appreciated. I choose not to frequent those places often. I’ve accepted the fact that my success may not look like what American has defined. I choose to be my authentic self and I sleep just fine at night, despite all of this.
Once I found comfort in being my authentic, ratchet self, I realized that it doesn’t matter.
I smell the roses.
I smell the coffee (figuratively and literally).
I carpe diem.
I do you boo boo.
And guess what, it feels sooo good.