Building on the previous entry, in an urban American United States) context, "the ghetto" refers to areas, neighborhoods, wards, or districts of a city where, due to often racist and/or discriminatory municipal planning policy, certain groups have been intentionally confined and isolated because of their race or ethnicity.
The U.S. example of "the ghetto" is compelling because like the Jewish example cited in the previous entry from which the term originates, the racially homogenous African American ghetto neighborhood was created largely by racist land developers and planning policymakers who bowed to the whims of cruel prejudice named under the facade of "market forces."
In layman's terms, here's how it breaks down: African Americans move from the South en mass in the Depression years to Northern cities (Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, NYC, etc); White people don't like having to share their living space with people with more melanin in their skin. So they enact municipal policy to establish racially and ethnically homogenous neighborhoods; when school bussing comes around in the 60's trying to integrate the races, whites simply abandon the central city and move out to the good ol' sprawling suburbia; what you end up with is entire core city neighborhoods that are entirely African American and their tax base is too low to provide decent services, and we sit back in our lawn chairs in suburbia and wonder why they rap about "the ghetto" and about "hustlin" and about "keeping it real..." Keeping this in mind, "the ghetto" to African Americans seems to imply not just a location or domicile, but a racial solidarity unified in place in fierce opposition to the racial injustices that placed them there in the first place
So to those of you who are insensitive to African American culture, hopefully this little lesson on the racist policy behind creating "the ghetto" will inspire you to look upon hip-hop
culture with a bit more benevolence and sensitivity.
So when someone says "Yo, we from the ghetto," it implies a separate culture and a separate frame of mind, which ties in nicely to keepin it real