Ethnographic Research On 'Getting Ghost' By Luke Bergmann

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Getting Ghost, an ethnographic research carried out by Luke Bergmann in 2000, shows how culture shapes and gives meaning to the lives of the adolescent African American males in inner city Detroit. Many African Americans had migrated to Detroit in the 1920s at the promise of employment in the automotive industry, however, after the industry began to dissolve in the 1970s, Detroit’s inner-city population began to be hit with a strong economic downfall (Background Sheet 2014,1). Subsequently, drug dealing in Detroit became widespread in the 1970s and 1980s, leading to a strong drug and convict culture which has affected many of the youth over multiple generations (Background Sheet 2014,1). A common practise in the African American population …show more content…

Dude Freeman, a 17 year old kid in the juvenile centre, talks about the drug dealing experience he encountered as being a ‘family-owned’ thing and described the ways in which people in the hood interacted. He said him and his brothers had a motto- “OFF”, meaning ‘only fuck with family.’(Bergmann 2008, 108). This motto shaped Dude’s interactions, really emphasising the importance of sticking with family as at the end of the day, they’re the only ones you can trust to have you back and look out for you. This was something Dude later learnt after getting snitched in to the police by a group of so-called friends for something he wasn’t fully responsible for (Bergmann 2008, 9). Dude also described the drug culture in a way that resembled a ritualistic act- “It used to be that I’d say, ‘Well, the only reason I’m doing this is to get something a whole lot better...I’m selling dope to take care of my mama.’. But that ain’t even the truth. I’m selling dope really just to be selling.” (Bergmann 2008, 110). This is ritualistic in the fact that it is seen as the necessary thing to do in the ghetto, and it appears to serve a purpose for the individuals doing it but oftentimes the reason for doing it becomes blurred as with Dude, where he’s not sure if he’s selling drugs to help out his family or just doing it for the sake of …show more content…

A big reason why this is; youth in these particular communities are used to growing up with family members making lots of money selling drugs, and see hardworking family members working legitimate jobs barely making ends meet. This really disheartens them from continuing with school as Rodney Phelps says to another young kid in the Juvenile detention system, “…you still a kid, basically, how you going to be making six an hour, when you can be stacking real money, slinging?” (Bergmann 2008, 159). This shows the attitudes of people in the community, which in turn affects the decision making of young men in these families. The drug dealing culture really shapes family life in Detroit by being normalized and seen as a way to make huge amounts of money albeit the risk of incarceration increasing exponentially. These young people often grow up in broken families or with multiple family members in prison for drug related crimes such as Dude Freeman, who had his father die of cancer, one of his brothers on the run from the police, the other locked-up, and a mother in dialysis (Bergmann 2008, 110). With family members often coming into contact with the justice system, like many other young males, Dude knew that you could only truly trust family in the end to not snitch or sell you out. This makes

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