We’re not talking about the Elvis song

During a community meeting held by California State University, East Bay, and the Hayward Unified School District to discuss the future of the closed Highland Elementary School site, a resident voiced concern over the possibility of having his children attend schools down the hill.

“I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Hayward down the hill is considered a ghetto,” the resident said.

A ghetto? Hmmm.

Is it the new Elephant Bar restaurant? Or is it because the city has only two Jamba Juice stores?

Raised in Hayward, I wasn’t offended but more so surprised by the comment.

A ghetto is defined by Dictionary.com to be “a usually poor section of a city inhabited primarily by people of the same race, religion, or social background, often because of discrimination.”

Today, the word has taken on several meanings, mainly “old” and “bad,” according to conversations I can remember when the word was used.

OK. So you have an outdated computer. Maybe Windows ’98? Oh my, that’s so ghetto! Or how about that hole in your gym shoe? GHETTO!

Here’s UrbanDictionary.com’s definition.

Yelpers consider Southland Mall to be ghetto. So it isn’t only local residents who view Hayward negatively.

Is Hayward a ghetto? If so, when did it take on that reputation? Why? How?

I’m confused. Is it because I live in the flats? Wait. Does that mean I’m ghetto?


  • AE Van Vogt

    I recently visited Hayward. I live in New Jersey and I work in Newark. Guys, you don’t even know the meaning of the word “ghetto” if you think Hayward has one.

    Come to New Jersey. I’ll show you some ghettos with gusto, the wind whistling through the rusty beer bottles, the gang shootings pop-poppping to the beat of an LL Cool J song. That’s a ghetto!

  • Jesse

    True, the word ghetto is used more and more liberally these days. I used it to refer to Windows 2000 the other day.

    In reference to the Hayward Flatlands, well it’s all in the eye of the beholder I guess. I lived for the first 17 years of my life off Jackson along the railroad tracks(Vario Ramos, it’s known as). In the late ’80s it got pretty bad around there, maybe not to the point of being a clinical ghetto, but it was a shady neighboorhood at that point and my family moved up the hill off D St. Now I live in Oakland flatlands and in comparision Hayward looks really nice and clean. And, yeah, Oakland has it’s bad spots, but I’ve heard many east-coasters say its nothing compared to what they know of.

    I have a friend who owns The Buggy House, a boilkswagen parts store on Mission Blvd. He’s told me stories of customers who drive out from Pleasanton and Livermore whos complain about their location being scary and ghetto. It seems funny to me because I know the area is fine unless you are really looking for trouble. But. to people usd to the valley, where most buildings are less than 40 years old, power and telephone wires are underground, and any blue-collar businesses are tucked away into industrial parks, hayward would look really shabby and maybe scary. If you were raised in Blackhawk, Pleasanton would look “ghetto”. Hayward has it’s share of tweaks, lowlifes, prostitues and homeless. It does have crime, but it always has. Hayward was never a high-class city, it was always a working class place and had a rough element, even back in the 1860s. If you call hayward a great place to rais a family, i will agree. If you call hayward a shithole, i would agree. It’s both. That’s what makes it better than a shiny new valley town.

  • Mariajean Garcia

    I grew up in Hayward too. I’m 47 , I remember when everyone was moving here because it was the best place in the bay area to live. I remember when they tore down the old shell of Hayward High ,nothing was to be built there because there was an earthquake fault right under it. just to see them build senior housing in it’s place an the most ugly city hall. none of that was to be built. maybe when the powers that be in Hayward care so will it’s people.