We all got some ratchet in us; that’s why I named this site what I did. A lot of people ask me: “Why ‘The Ratchedemic’?” “Couldn’t you have chosen like a real word to name your blog?” “I thought you were all about ‘Words Mean Things’, that doesn’t mean anything!” Well, ignoring the blatant shade of that last one, the name Ratchedemic does mean something. When you look at the two words that make up Ratchedemic, ratchet and academic, it would seem that these are two conflicting ideas. Ratchet people are dumb, can’t act right and you people you don’t want around you, and academics are the smart people who go to school and are smart and do good in the world right? Well, I don’t necessarily wanna blow your mind or anything, but…
First off we have to look at how coded these words are. Take a look at the good sis Google and see what comes up for “ratchet people” You’ll probably see a few Miley Cyrus-es and Honey Boo Boo-s, but the vast majority of those images are of a certain hue. Now ask Google about “academic people”. Yes there are a few faces of color there, but those results are almost universally melanin-deficient. This, my good friends, is called indoctrination. We are indoctrinated (convinced) to view everything bad as affiliated with people of color, including ratchetivity. This is why only Asian restaurants are accused of using non-meat even though many white people eat raccoon, alligator, and possum and Fear Factor happened. It is why people of Hispanic descent are automatically considered illegal immigrants even though, you know, Columbus. It is why Middle Eastern people are the only terrorists despite recent events and why black people are all this and more. That’s why ratchet is automatically viewed as something bad: “Well that describes black people so that must be something horrible. I never wanna be ratchet!”
Nope. We should all be ratchet; there’s nothing wrong with it, at least in my mind. You see, one thing that people seem to ignore when they’re talking about ratchet people is that they are real. They tell you exactly what’s on their mind and do exactly what they feel all the time. They don’t subscribe to respectability politics, they know who they are and what they like and only subscribe to that. Academics, by nature of their trade, have to do the opposite. They have to bang on the doors of the Ivory Tower and fake their way to the proverbial top. (I really wanna link a Dreamgirls song here, but I Am Telling You I’m Not Going to do that) Too often academics lose themselves in the system, and all the good they wanted to do with their education is forgotten for the sake of fitting in with everyone else. We should all be ratchet so that we don’t get sucked up by that respectability monster, and we can maintain our individuality.
So if that’s what a ratchet person and an academic person are, what is a ratchedemic? Simply put, the best of both worlds. My tagline says, “Who else goes from leading a discussion on ‘Invisible Man’ to setting it out to ‘Back that Ass Up’ in 13 seconds?” and that is a ratchedemic in a nutshell. A ratchedemic is someone who is not afraid to do things outside of academic tradition but can still hold an intellectual conversation. For example, I love Nicki Minaj, she’s probably the artist I come the closest to “stanning” for. Many people have asked me how I can enjoy Nicki so much and have all the interests and intelligence I do, and the quick answer is I’m a ratchedemic and I don’t care to be limited by what I can and cannot enjoy. I have even been able to do some scholarly work about Nicki and her feminism that has been pretty well received despite some people's "concerns". This actually brings up another purpose of the ratchedemic.
Since a ratchedemic is able to hold a doctorate degree and still blast Boosie or Fetty Wap, they are often much more approachable and connected to everyday people. That’s not to say they are exactly like everyone else, because the very nature of academia is to put you into the Ivory Tower where you are separated from the general public and even ratchedemics fall into this sometimes. A ratchedemic is, however, much more likely to be able to relate to people outside academia than someone who spends all of their time figuring out how to assimilate. This gives a ratchedemic an easier path to use their work to help other people. Sure, anybody can help others and it isn't written in the scholar handbook that you have to help people at all, but if you do need a scholar to talk to people in Ju City you’re not going to send someone who only talks to people with Masters degrees or higher and hasn’t heard the radio since Will Smith was making music. Those of us who want to use our work to help the community must maintain some sort of relationship with said community in order to be truly effective, and that is where the ratchedemics come in.
So be ratchet. Be yourself. So many people see the oppressive nature of the academic world, know that it is wrong and want to change it, but most of them change their tune once they get inside the gate. I encourage everyone to not change who they are for this thing; if you like talking about trap music talk about trap music, if you’re interested in weave politics talk about weave, if you wanna study reading (and I don’t mean with books) do it; your work has value even if the Ivory Tower doesnt see it. If you wanna remain close to your community for activism purposes or just for your own mental health, do what you need. Above anything else, being a ratchedemic is about bucking the norm and being able to explain why that norm is a form of societal oppression enforced and regulated by white supremacy. So let’s go everybody, let’s get ratchet.
Do you consider yourself a ratchedemic? Why or how do you maintain your individuality in a world that almost demands conforming? Leave your comments, questions and concerns below and don't forget to like, share and subscribe!