Edited by Azizi Powell
Latest revision- July 5, 2017
This pancocojams post provides selected examples of the almost always negative adjectival use of the word "ghetto" to describe Winston-Salem State University's (WSSU)'s cheerleading squads.
In contrast to the disparaging use of the word "ghetto" to describe these cheerleaders, this post also documents some comments from those same YouTube discussion threads that express positive opinions about WSSU's cheerleading squads, and in particular about the female members of those squads.
These selected comments are from six YouTube video discussion threads of WSSU's cheerleading squads (published in 2008-2015) and one hbcusports.com (Historically Black College & University sports) discussion thread about that 2008 video of WSSU's cheerleading squad video that is featured in this post. These selected comments document the use of the word "ghetto" as a usually negative descriptions of the female members of WSSU's cheerleading squads, or to describe the entire squads.
One video of a Winston-Salem State University's cheerleading squad is showcased in this post to provide a visual example within this post of this university's Stomp & Shake cheerleading styles and the football stadium's crowds' reactions to that cheering. This pancocojams post also includes hyperlinks to the six WSSU YouTube videos that this post showcases.
The content of this post is presented for historical, linguistic, and cultural purposes.
This post is part of pancocojams' ongoing series on Stomp & Shake cheerleading. As such, it helps document information about and perceptions of Stomp & Shake cheerleading among Black and non-Black Americans from 2008-2015 (the years that these comments were published).
Click the stomp and shake cheerleading tag to find additional pancocojams posts about this type of cheerleading.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to Winston-Salem State University's cheerleading squads and thanks to all those who are featured in these videos and quoted in this post. Thanks also to all those who have published these YouTube videos.
EDITOR'S NOTE: ADDED JULY 5, 2017
To be clear, the negative adjectival use of the word "ghetto" isn't limited to discussions about WSSU cheerleaders. Instead, the negative meaning of the adjective "ghetto" is used as a descriptor of stomp & shake cheerleading and/or certain or all stomp & shake cheerleaders, and particularly those cheerleaders who are female. "Ghetto" has been used as an insult by people who are critical of stomp & shake cheerleading on the university level and the high school level on down. This post focuses on examples from discussion threads of Winston-Salem State University cheerleaders mainly because that cheer team is known as one of the originators of stomp & shake cheerleading styles and remains in the forefront of stomp & shake cheerleading. Furthermore, this post focuses on WSSU's cheerleaders because I found more YouTube videos and discussion threads about that cheerleading squad than about any other stomp & shake cheerleading squad.
Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-negative-use-of-adjective-ghetto-in.html for a companion post that documents a comment exchange about the word "ghetto" as a descriptor of high school stomp & shake cheerleaders.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT STOMP & SHAKE CHEERLEADING
Stomp & shake cheerleading" is a referent for a relatively new form of African American originated style of cheerleading for football games or for basketball games. The earliest date that I've found for stomp & shake cheerleading is the early to mid 1970s. (as cited in https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/05/overview-of-stomp-shake-cheerleading.html).
Stomp & shake cheerleading is particularly known among African Americans from middle school through university levels in Virginia and North Carolina. University squads perform these cheers on the sidelines of football or basketball games and during half-time of those games. High school and younger squads perform either standing on the sidelines during football games, or while seated or standing in the bleachers during basketball games. Stomp & shake cheers are performed by two squads who face off prior to the competitive games in a "cheer battle". In addition, stomp & shake cheer are performed during cheer competitions and at non-competitive performance events that aren't associated with any athletic games.
Although most stomp & shake cheerleaders are female, YouTube videos document that a few males also are members of some university stomp & shake squads. This may particularly be the case for those university cheerleading squads that perform mainstream ("traditional") cheerleading moves as well as stomp & shake cheerleading. In any event, male stomp & shake cheerleaders don't do the characteristic "Jiggapops" (rhythmical, fast double shake of the hips) move that the female stomp & shake cheerleaders do, or at least it appears to me that they don't do that movement the same way as the females on that squad.
Stomp & Shake cheerleading has vehement supporters who love the creativity, innovation, skill, showmanship, "hardness" and "for realness" (according to Black cultural criteria) of this type of cheerleading. However, stomp & shake cheerleading also has vehement detractors who don't consider it to be "real cheerleading", but a form of fraternity/sorority stepping and/or cheer dancing. Stomp & cheer detractors also routinely negatively label stomp & shake cheerleading and its (almost exclusively) Black female squad members as being "ghetto" - i.e. behaving and/or dressing in ways that are highly inappropriate according to middle class standards, particularly behaving and dressing in sexually provocative ("slutty) ways. "Being ghetto" also may mean to act (or to actually be) "loud", and overly aggressive.
From the YouTube videos that I've viewed, it appears that all of the female members of the various WSSU's cheerleading squads are Black, with the exception of one or two different squads that appear to have just one White female. (The WSSU videos that I've found on YouTube are from 2007 to 2015 and include some videos that aren't showcased in this post.) In addition, in all of the WSSU cheerleading YouTube videos-including some that aren't showcased in this post- there are a few Black male cheerleaders.
*"Upstomps" is a signature movement that is performed by female and male members of some stomp and shake squads where the cheerleaders stomp two times with their left foot and perform a knee lift (raise the right leg bent at the knee). In the videos I've watched of upstomping, the toes are usually pointed to the ground. Also, reflecting the style of some stomp and shake squads, when those equads perform "upstomps" the knee is bent at a slight angle toward the right.
Note: These movements names and descriptions were written on this internet discussion forum* and/or shared with me via online communications with former HBCU stomp & shake cheerleaders UpstompJunkie and Charlottefashionicon.
Click https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/07/21/race-and-the-changing-shape-of-cheerleading/ Race and the Changing Shape of Cheerleading by Guest Blogger Azizi Powell on July 21, 2011 for more comments about these terms.
*https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/07/21/race-and-the-changing-shape-of-cheerleading/ Race and the Changing Shape of Cheerleading by Guest Blogger Azizi Powell on July 21, 2011.
EXAMPLES OF THE ADJECTIVAL USE OF THE WORD "GHETTO" IN SEVERAL YOUTUBE DISCUSSION THREADS ABOUT WSSU'S STOMP & SHAKE CHEERLEADING SQUADS
As of this date (2017), most Stomp & Shake cheerleading squads are located in the southern region of the United States. That isn't surprising as (it appears from my online research) that Stomp & Shake cheerleading originated in the mid to late 1970s and 1980s in the Southern states of Virginia and North Carolina. Significantly, Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) based majorette dance teams (J-Setting) also appears to have originated in North Carolina and Virginia during that same time period. Also, historically African American fraternity and sorority Greek letter stepping appears to have become more prominent in the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, and Howard University, located near Virginia in Washington D.C., is the epicenter for early historical information about "stepping". In the early to late 1970s Washington, D.C. became known for percussive, uptempo, call & response "Go Go" music, and Washington D. C. is one of the location of the earliest documented text examples of what I refer to as "foot stomping cheers" (in the mid to late 1970s). I believe that none of this is a coincidence.
A number of commenters on YouTube discussion threads about Winston-Salem State University's cheerleading squads used the word "ghetto" not as a noun to refer to poor and lower income working class, crime ridden, mostly urban, and mostly African American neighborhoods, but as an adjective that disparaged the (almost entirely Black) female members of those cheerleading squads mostly because of their body movements, the styles of their cheerleader uniforms, and their aggressive chanting and body mannerisms.
My sense is that most of the people making those comments in those featured videos' discussion threads were Black, based on the text of those comments, including the commenters' racial self-identification, and based on the photos that accompanied many of those comments. There were also some racists comments in these discussion threads, mostly from people who self-identified as White in those comments or by those comments' accompanying photograph. However, this post doesn't provide examples of those types of comments.
It's my guess that these selected comments which document the use of the wor "ghetto" as a usually negative adjective that was used to describe the almost always Black female members of WSSU's cheerleading squad also by extension, describe the almost always Black female members of other historically African American university Stomp & Shake cheerleading squads. In addition, by extension, these usually negative adjectival use of the word "ghetto" describe the (almost always) female members of (predominately or exclusively) Black middle school, high school, and/or community based Stomp & Shake cheerleading squads.
Note that Winston-Salem State University's cheerleading squads usually include a few males. However, it's rare for anyone on the discussion threads of these YouTube videos to make any comment either positive or negative about these squad's male cheerleaders.
Here's an urbandictionary.com entry for the vernacular term "ghetto" that fits the way that "ghetto" was often used in these featured discussion thread:
A description that non-black people use for black people who are, at the time, doing anything gross, undesirable, obnoxious, loud, dressing trashy or giving unnecessary attitude - a description inherent to black people from the ghetto.
Jennifer usually looks really classy but tonight she just looked straight up ghetto.
by campnewyork July 05, 2011
"straight up" = undeniably, definitely, totally
As a reminder, it appears to me that most of the comments that use "ghetto" to disparage the stomp & shake discussion threads that are featured below seem to have been written by Black people.
There are other vernacular adjective definitions for the word "ghetto" than the ones that are mentioned in this post. Among those definitions is the positive meaning of being resourceful, improvising, inventive, and otherwise doing things that help a person survive in difficult economic situations. However, I don't believe that that definition applies to the comments in these online discussion threads about Stomp & Shake cheerleading.
SHOWCASE VIDEO: 2015 WSSU Cheerleaders, Hey Everybody
Artistry Photography, Published on Oct 23, 2015
SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THESE FEATURED VIDEOS' DISCUSSION THREADS
These comments are presented in chronological order, according to the title of that video or the title of their blog posting. I've assigned numbers to these comments based on its publishing date, with the oldest dated comments within those titles given first, except for responses. However, some comments within each titles are grouped according to subject matter, regardless of the year that they were posted.
When the word "ghetto" is used as a positive descriptor of Stomp & Shake cheerleaders or that cheerleading style, I've added an editorial comment below that comment indicating that.
I've added some explanations about vernacular terms under some of these comments. Additions and corrections are welcome.
I. WSSU CHEERLEADERS GETTIN' CRUNK
ORIGINALCHEERPHI Published on Feb 22, 2008
WSSU CHEERLEADERS SHOWING U HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE AT THE ULTIMATE CHEER & DANCE EXPERIENCE TRIAD HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADING COMPETITION 2007
1. Jair, [The remaining portion of this name omitted because of this blog's policy about inapporpriate language], 2015
"What's great about this is how it calls on the cultural significance of South African Boot and indigenous Tribal dance. Clearly it's been adapted to entertain. People can call this ghetto or low class but if you put it in the history of dance from African and other indigenous cultures it's what people had to do to maintain ties to their history. I'm glad these cheerleaders and others at HBCU's keep this style and don't assimilate. It's fun to watch and creates excitement for their fans, which is what cheerleading is supposed to do.
This particular team seems to have great synchronicity and original routines. Even ones I've seen them do in compteition or exhibition uses popular music but they find unique moves and ways to dance to it as well as using music like, "O Fortuna" by Carl Orff and music from the band Kraftwerk..."
This is the entire text of this comment.
II. WSSU CHEERLEADERS FOR MTV
Flow Child Entertainment Published on Sep 24, 2008
WSSU Cheerleaders tryout for MTV Show
1. Afton Hills, 2013
"Grunting and squealing isn't cheering. It's sometimes really hard to understand what their saying. This is why so many people consider cheerleading not a sport. You can still be loud and have cute cheers with less shaking. Some people consider it vulgar..."
2. Khaulee Tooten, 2017
"Afton Hills stomp and shake"
3. magandaMadi, 2013
"forget MTV they would rather show spoiled white girls doing the same "GO TEAM GO" [profanity deleted] just like the rest of the other white cheer teams. do't mean to sound racist but it's true.
this is what gets the crowd pumped! i love it
"MTV" = American national television channel that began as a music video channel which didn't air any Black videos
4. AORaines, 2013
"Love the originality, the loudness, and the enthusiasm but cheerleaders don't woo nor eyyyupp....not sorority cheerleaders"
"Eyyyupp" is a high pitched yelp that is performed during cheers by a member of WSSU's cheerleading squad. Another commenter, dstgirl9of94, commented that "FSU got thier eeyyooppp from WSSU!"
"FSU" = Florida State University (another HBCU.
As an aside, the screen name "dstgirlof94" means that the commenter is a member of the historically Black Greek letter sorority "Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., having joined that sorority in 1994.
III. WSSU CHEERLEADERS 2010-11 Basketball BATTLE
cavettaj, Published on Jun 11, 2011
RAMS BACK IN THE CIAA... taking names!
:::: finishing off Livingstone in a friendly battle::::
WSSU vs Livingstone 2010-11
1. Conscious, 2012
"That was awesome, I watched it about 30 times now, the red bone on the end was hot too so I think that helped some of the effect of the video, but it was good competition, especially when the game is boring...lol that's a hood cheerleading competition right there"
"Hood" here is a synonym for "ghetto" and that word is used in a positive sense in this video as a referent for populations of Black people who are creative, innovative perhaps because they aren't restricted by mainstream (White) middle class rules and values.
2. Kiara Holley, 2012
"omg i just love this it go to hard"
[explanations revised June 28, 2017]
"it go" = it is
"to" = ("too" = very)
"go hard" = [definition revised July 2, 2017] - doing something with 100% effort, going all out, without regard for middle class society's rules about decorum
A person who goes hard is described as "being hard":
"being hard" = being "fierce", being "aggressive"
3. kimmie6209, 2013
"This IS NOT collegiate cheerleading, this is some backyard teach yourself low-rent mess. Being in college is about being learned &scholarly. U are also to show sportsmanship as a cheerleader. But the chant starts off with "you get no respect" & god knows what else crap they said. Also cheerleading moves are very structured, not doing moves like cabbage patching & flailing arms all over the place. But leave it to black people to mess cheerleading with just like they messed up their names.
4. percabethcool, 3013
"@kimmie6209 that waz so rude and races its good 2 speak d truth but wat u said waz raw"
"races" = probably a typo for "racist"
'raw" = probably means "unfiltered" in a negative sense
5. Logan Anon, 2013
"Im white myself, and go to a white school. But i think these girls killed it and bring a different type of cheerleading style just like A LOT of other people. And to be honest i think they do better then our all white girl team.."
6. Rebecca Babosh, 2013
"Wow. Bellies. That's so inappropriate. They should be arrested."
7. Gabby Stull, 2013
"Im sorry but the outfits are showing to much.I mean I know your a cheerleader but you are repesenting Your school"
8. datgirlflirt, 2013
"Y are their uniforms a problem do y'all complain about other squads uniforms
9. Jeané Beauty, 2013
"They are grown women in COLLEGE! they can show what they want"
10. Hannah Loring, 2013
"Ghetto Style! I LOVE IT!!!!"
I believe that "ghetto style" here is used to compliment someone or something “raw”, "for real"; i.e. something "ghetto" is original, innovative, unfiltered, not homogenized, expressing the essence of something or someone
11. SIESIE CHAMPION, 2015
"This called ratchet leading"
"Ratchet" is a negative African American Vernacular English term that means "uncouth", "nasty"; perhaps from the word "wretched"
12. Mazda6boy, 2015
"True life:I'm a ghetto cheerleader"
This appears to be a positive use of the term "ghetto".
13. GScott7, 2015
"Nah., True Life im an HBCU cheerleader.
"HBCU" = Historically Black Colleges & Universities
14. Brandi Gordon, 2016
"they raw my daughter is a cheerleader and she loves this cheer💯💯💯👍👍👍👍👍"
I believe that "raw" here is meant as a positive descriptor means "unfiltered" (by mainstream society's rules and expectations.
IV. WSSU Rams Cheerleaders
Published on Dec 6, 2011
2011-12 Winston-Salem Rams Cheerleaders during basketball game
1. shalocka larrison, 2013
"They look stank"
"Stank" is an African American Vernacular English adjective and not a past tense verb of "stink"). "Stank" means someone who stinks but also someone who is a slut.
2. Cedric Perkins, 2013
"I thought yall was ratchet at first but not now.. yall crunk af.. girl in the frnt killed it"
"rachet" = an insult meaning "a mess" ("messed up'), "slutty"
crunk = usually a complimentary term meaning "hyped, wild, behaving with little or no inhibitions
af= as + four letter profanity beginning with the letter "f".
3. Briana Glossy, 2014
"They look good, just because you're not used to seeing other types of Cheer/Dance doesn't mean you can judge them."
4. Jamika Adkins, 2014
"Yo they sassyas"
"sassyas" here may be the word "sassy" with the added word "ass". This may be a complimentary comment or it may be an insult.
V. 2013 WSSU Red Sea Of Sound
"this look like some shyt straight out the ghetto"
2. Taya alberto, 2015
"You saying the ghetto but they in college boo they not dancing in the street"
3. neva jones, 2015
"yea they look but there not"
..."They may look ghetto [in its negative sense] but they're not ghetto".
4. Kourtnie ross, 2015
"+neva jones shut up"
5. neva jones, 2016
"+Kourtnie ross i don't have to shut up. shut up for what? all i said was yea they look but there not so why do't u shut up talkin to me"
6. Mimi Mariee, 2015
"Smh why are they wearing net stalkings that's so Unlady like 😒 they should be wearing the leggings that the other dancers got on"
"Smh" = shake my head (an expression symbolizing exasperation, annoyance, disgust etc.
7.. Jaidarius Titus, 2015
"Everybody has a different style.. Let them live."
8. Annaa Idekijustloveyoutube, 2016
"GUYS THIS VIDEO IS SO NIT GHETTO OR RATCHET, THERE IN COLLEGE MEANING THEY CAN WEAR STUFF LIKE THIS AMD NOT TO BE RACIST BUT UVE SEEN LIKE ALL WHITE TEAMS WEAR HARDLY ANYTHING AND NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING PLUS THESE LADIES ARE TALENTED AND CONFIDENT, STOP BEING RACIST AGAINST PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THEIR SKIN, YOU SHOUKD BE HAPPY TO SEE A BIDEO LIKE YHIS BECAUSE ITS ALL CONFIDENCE AND THEYRE ON BEAT AND THEIR VEY CLASSY SO STOP HATING
I think that the word "NIT" is a typo for "NOT" and the word "VEY" is a typo for "VERY"
9. Shatara DeVane, 2016
"Peep the girl with the whole in her tights .. Just ratchet lol"
"peep" = look at, notice
10. OSKARTGROUCH, 2016
"+Shatara DeVane Sometimes tights rip after you put them on... IJS. Not too much you can do if you ripped them while performing."
IJS+ I’m just sayin
11. toolcrib75, 2016
"They're smart lil ladies so they can wear anything thing and maybe the ones talking mad because they're r not in college
..."and maybe the ones [who are] talking [are] mad [angry] because they're r [are]* not in college.
* The word "are' isn't needed in this sentence as it is already given in the word "they're".
12. DearestMe, 2016
"Beautiful girls and the most realistic fake hair of ALL the HBCU dance groups."
This may be "throwing shade" as it's insulting to say or point out that a woman is wearing fake hair. Then again, a lot of HBCU cheerleaders and majorette dance teams are known for their members wearing long fake hair that is unrealistic looking. In contrast, a number of WSSU cheerleaders have short [straightened] hair cuts. So this comment might not be a diss after all.
13. michael wright, 2016
"Dancing dolls of WSSU look like prostitutes."
"Dancing Dolls" is the name of Southern University's majorette dance team (and the name of the teen and children's Hip Hop majorette dance team that are featured in the national television show Bring It.
"They" here refers to WSSU's majorette dance team.
14. Darrell Emerson, 2016
"Fyi, they're called Scarlet Lace; and they don't look like prostitutes you asshole.."
15. dperfect28, 2017
"That's so disrespectful to our sisters 😡😡 (in college to)"
"Sisters" here means "Black females".
16. Joe Kelly, 2016
"Sweet Baby Jesus. I fell in love 8 times.....you know your gorgeous, ignore the haters."
17. Seth Williams, 2017
"Gorgeous young women and a great band. High class!!! That's why there are haters."
18. Jae Shuler, 2017
"look at those beautiful black queens 😍😍😍😍 they look like sexy black panthers..."
"Queens" is a complimentary referent for Black women.
VI. 2014 WSSU Cheerleaders, Show The World
"ratchet ghetto cheerleaders"
VII. From https://www.hbcusports.com/forums/threads/southern-jackson-state-you-gets-no-respect-in-here.118763/ Southern-Jackson State YOU GETS NO RESPECT IN HERE!!
Discussion in 'The Smack Board' started by getuprams, Sep 11, 2014.
[Pancocojams Editor: www.hbcusports.com is a probably unofficial sports discussion forum for members of guests. "HBCU" = Historically Black Colleges & Universities. This particular forum featured comments about the video of Winston-Salem State University's cheerleading video that was featured as video/comments #I above.
The word "smack" in "Smack board" is an African American Vernacular English term that means "trash talking", "talking about, insulting, dissing other people or groups, and/or bragging about yourself and/or your group
1. getuprams, Sep 11, 2014 #11
“So where were they at a non-Greek Step Show because that was not cheerleading!
Yes It's Cheerleading! It has a name it's called Stomp-n-Shake and WSSU is one of the originators of the style, It's VERY popular in NC\VA\DC\MD\TN"
-end of quote-
"The CIAA is famous for its Cheerleading which is SnS as oppsed to "White Girl Go Fight Win"!!
The CIAA Cheerleading Exhibition last cheer drew over 8,000 people!
cheerleaders is a perky, always smiling, female who fits a particular body mold.
However, in the late 1970s, a new style of cheerleading emerged in North Carolina and Virginia. This African American originated style of cheerleading is called “Stomp n Shake”. Stomp n Shake cheerleaders have the same goals as “traditional cheerleaders” — to motivate their sports team and raise the enthusiasm of fans. However, Stomp n Shake uses African American dance/stepping aesthetics”
The portion that begins with the word "...cheerleaders is a perky..." is a (unattributed) quote from me. That portion was initially from a page on my (now retired) cocojams.com website. I also wrote a version of that paragraph in this 2011 guest blogger article: https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/07/21/race-and-the-changing-shape-of-cheerleading/ Race and the Changing Shape of Cheerleading by Guest Blogger Azizi Powell on July 21, 2011. [Note: Cocojams Jambalayah" was the screen name that I used in the discussion section of that article.]
2. DallasCowboyGirl, Sep 11, 2014#12
3. getuprams, Sep 11, 2014 #13
"Regardless of your denial, Go Fight WIN DOES NOT excite a black crowd. I don't know why SWAC squads continue to use there imitation NCA style of cheerleading. It's just not INTERESTING to black people!
Cheerleading battles are a major factor in CIAA sporting events, much like Dance Lines are in the SWAC!
I guarantee you WSSU fans react more to WSSU's cheers than Southern's does when they stunt"
4. icey23, Sep 11, 2014 #15
"still ghetto in my book. Ghetto phi Stomp n Shake"
"Ghetto Phi" is a negative adaptation of one of the names that Winston-Salem State University cheerleaders have used for their squads.
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