Stop Calling Black People ‘Urban’
Here is what the word "urban" means: "of, pertaining to, or designating a city or town; living in a city; characteristic of or accustomed to cities; citified." Here is what the word "urban" does not, in fact, mean: "black person." Let's all do our part to keep this straight.
One reader emailed us today, referring to a photo of murdered black teenager Trayvon Martin. In it, the reader said, Martin sports a gold tooth: "Gold front teeth on someone that young signify an adherence to urban/gangsta lifestyle." Now. Notwithstanding everything else wrong with that sentence, let's isolate this one simple fact: Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida. Have you been to Sanford, Florida? I have. It is not urban.
Trayvon Martin was not "urban." Trayvon Martin was black. That is also why he was shot.
This is not to imply that only moronic people on the internet use this misnomer."Urban marketing" is synonymous with marketing to black people. "Urban fiction" is black fiction. "Urban" music is common parlance for black music, even if it comes from the country. And the number of pundits who drop the "urban" code word while stumbling in search of something to say other than "black" is impossible to count.
Are black people urban? Sure, sometimes. Here are some other things that are urban: multiple Starbucks locations in a two-block radius, The Real Housewives of New York, and power lunches at The Essex House. But you know what the most urban thing is, these days?