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Thread: Problems with Getting v Giving Respect in Urban America

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Problems with Getting v Giving Respect in Urban America

    Before I go into depth, this is not intended to be raciest in any way. Unfortunately the majority of these observations are of persons of different racial, cultural, or ethnic background from me. I have several friends who are of different race, cultural, or ethnic background who do not do any of the following, but the majority of the people to do the following activities are of particular racial, cultural, or ethnic background.

    With that being said, some people need to understand that demanding respect without being willing to give respect just angers people. On my way to dinner the other night, while driving on a busy road through a part of down that is not the safest place to be, a guy who was in his late teens to early 20’s, decided that he was going to cross in the middle of the road to go into the liquor store across the street. He had no respect for the tariff, and thus almost caused several accidents as people had to lock up their breaks to prevent running this punk down. He never even bothered to look at the drivers as if it was not worthy of his time. I am surprised that he did not trip over is baggy pants that were falling off. Yet, he ‘demanded’ respect.

    My wife was as angered as I was and she commented that when she is at work, she sees this type of disrespect for everything and everyone all the time. She mentioned that many of the people who come into the ER, don’t have insurance, are lower income, and demand this and that, often times they are just there to use the phone or for drugs. They will claim that they have chest pain or some other ailment, but then refuse treatment! Yet they ‘demand’ respect.

    She also mentioned that more times than not, they will use some form of slang language where they refer to little girls as “Mama’s”, will swear constantly, and use language that would make backwoods rednecks look like Harvard graduates. Yet they ‘demand’ respect.

    Additionally, I have been in places where people have gotten mad at the wait staff because the waiter did not speak Spanish and the customer refused to speak English, demanding respect. I have gone into stores here in Grand Rapids and the clerk did not speak any English, but was instead spending most of their time gabbing away on their cell phones in Spanish. Yet they ‘demand’ respect.

    At what point did we allow this to be a norm in America? For over 200 years, there has been particular cultural and social minimums where parents have taught their children to respect authority, respect their elders, and respect others, and thus, they will respect you back. However it appears that there is a complete breakdown in these minimum standards amongst some cultural groups. There is a cultural element in America, mostly in dense urban areas, where this demand for respect is only achieved by disrespecting everyone else. To make matters worse, this cultural group is likely going to end up needing heath care and not having insurance, needing governmental assistance and not having a job, and possibly needing incarceration because of crimes committed. All of these are paid for by the tax payers.

    The frustration about this is it could be easily corrected if parents of these people actually gave a crap about teaching them right from wrong, good from bad, and the minimum social norms that I listed above. Now, the kids that this cultural group has is likely to follow in their parents footsteps and cause further problems within their communities.

    I don’t think that deciding who is president or governor is going to matter. The federal government can’t balance it’s check book. While I think that this a local and at most a regional issue, I don’t know what can be done. While we can force kids to be in schools, we can’t force them to learn and we can’t force them to care. It causes a mix of emotions that range between anger and being sad for these people. But one thing is evident, they demand respect, but they don’t respect them selves or their cultures.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    I wonder about the lack of respect among those with the most economic resources, not the least.

    How do we train hedge fund people to not create such complex financial instruments that cause melt downs across the international financial system?

    How can we stop mortgage brokers from cheating the elderly and the lower middle class?

    What about the US contractors working for us in Iraq having their employees through another country and thus not paying social security taxes?

    We do have issues.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I wonder about the lack of respect among those with the most economic resources, not the least.

    How do we train hedge fund people to not create such complex financial instruments that cause melt downs across the international financial system?

    How can we stop mortgage brokers from cheating the elderly and the lower middle class?

    What about the US contractors working for us in Iraq having their employees through another country and thus not paying social security taxes?

    We do have issues.
    How do we train people to not spend more money than they make? I agree that preditory lending is a problem, but like most businesses, unless there is a client base, there is no business.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    At what point did we allow this to be a norm in America? For over 200 years, there has been particular cultural and social minimums where parents have taught their children to respect authority, respect their elders, and respect others, and thus, they will respect you back. However it appears that there is a complete breakdown in these minimum standards amongst some cultural groups. There is a cultural element in America, mostly in dense urban areas, where this demand for respect is only achieved by disrespecting everyone else. To make matters worse, this cultural group is likely going to end up needing heath care and not having insurance, needing governmental assistance and not having a job, and possibly needing incarceration because of crimes committed. All of these are paid for by the tax payers.
    We've had problems with respect in America for hundreds of years. Slavery wasn't "respectful". Not allowing women and minorities to vote wasn't "respectful". Jim Crow Laws weren't "respectful". Urban renewal oftentimes wasn't "respectful". I think ignoring the vast problems this country has overcome to focus on current problems that were in large part produced by those vast problems has little chance of solving anything. It's easy to say "I didn't have any part in past oppression", but that's not going to fix anything - past problems do affect future behavior and will continue to do so unless large systemic changes are made.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    We've had problems with respect in America for hundreds of years. Slavery wasn't "respectful". Not allowing women and minorities to vote wasn't "respectful". Jim Crow Laws weren't "respectful". Urban renewal oftentimes wasn't "respectful". I think ignoring the vast problems this country has overcome to focus on current problems that were in large part produced by those vast problems has little chance of solving anything. It's easy to say "I didn't have any part in past oppression", but that's not going to fix anything - past problems do affect future behavior and will continue to do so unless large systemic changes are made.
    I agree that none of those things that you mentioned were respectful. But what I don't understand is why we can use that as a justification for actions today. Was it wrong what happened, yes, but that does not indicate that entire cultures should have this entitlement mentality. If anything it further causes divides in between cultural, ethnic and racial groups.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    How do we train people to not spend more money than they make? I agree that preditory lending is a problem, but like most businesses, unless there is a client base, there is no business.
    I think those are two separate issues. I don't think you can easily "train" a person to live within one means AND enjoy it. It requires both discipline and attitude. Theoretically, if you remove debt and other obligations, most people can live within their means somewhere. However, some people will easily adapt to this and other people will go crazy. People's spending habits are heavily influenced by their personalities. There was a study a while ago about people's spending habits after they won the lotto: people who had always saved money and planned their finances continued to do this after they one the lotto (and yes, they bought a few nice things, too) whereas people with poor saving habits spent the entire lotto and ended up either the same or worse).

    There is also confusion between saving habits and materialism: some people think that in order to save, you have to live a spartan lifestyle, never go out, drive a beat up car, where second hand clothes (this is partly true). Having a larger salary affords nicer things and setting aside money for savings (a mininum of 25%-30% of net income) might create a smaller dent in people's spending habits than someone with a smaller salary.

    Preditory lending and other scams are out there, but the consumer is also to blame for not educating himself more about these problems and how to stay out of them. The internet offers tons of good advice about financial planning (often free) and consumers need to research their options. I would also recommend non-for-profits consumer groups such as Consumer Credit Counseling, which offers a ton of consumer advice for free or discount in most larger cities.

    As for the example regarding the guy crossing the street to the liquour store, I have seen this in neighborhoods in Chicago. Unfortunately, I think "some" people demand respect without giving it because they seldom see when giving respect pays off. My dad taught in the inner city for 30 years and said that students' and parent's outlook on life were also very negative: many didn't think they would live to old age, so they didn't feel like making a significant change for the better

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I agree that none of those things that you mentioned were respectful. But what I don't understand is why we can use that as a justification for actions today. Was it wrong what happened, yes, but that does not indicate that entire cultures should have this entitlement mentality. If anything it further causes divides in between cultural, ethnic and racial groups.
    I'm not saying that those items should be used as a justification for the actions that you're talking about, but they can be used as an explanation (at least partially) of why those actions are occurring. Take some of the worst cases of urban renewal, for instance. If you demolish an entire neighborhood and send the residents to project towers, you magnify the problems that existed AND create a deep level of resentment. Just like respect, manners, etc are passed from one generation to the next - so is resentment.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    In regards to money, I don’t think that it is difficult to live within your means, and if people did that at the start, they would not have debt which would free up more income for them to buy more stuff. The problem is that too much of America has a demand for instant gratification and are not willing to wait and save for anything anymore.

    In regards slavery, the projects of urban renewal, and resentment being passed down from generation to generation, I think that is an excuse, but it is not a justification and does not make any of these actions (past or present) acceptable. Having these neighborhoods being leveled in many cases was wrong. But what is also wrong is the idea that people can not come back from adversity. People from all over the world come to the US with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They come here to become legal citizens, work hard to lean and grow, and go on to make an amazing, and often upper class, life style for themselves. If someone with nothing can achieve that, then someone who at least has the start of being born in the greatest nation ever created has a hell of a head start.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Often, people who "demand" respect have been treated like second-class citizens their whole lives.

    Example; a young, black teen walks into a store, the clerks follow them around to make sure they don't steal, simply because of their skin color or the way they speak.

    Try dealing with that for 18+ years, and then tell me that it isn't a two-way street.

    I agree that the level of courtesy and respect is dropping as a society, but that it isn't just one or two or three groups of people. It's a societal issue that has many causes.

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    In regards slavery, the projects of urban renewal, and resentment being passed down from generation to generation, I think that is an excuse, but it is not a justification and does not make any of these actions (past or present) acceptable. Having these neighborhoods being leveled in many cases was wrong. But what is also wrong is the idea that people can not come back from adversity. People from all over the world come to the US with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They come here to become legal citizens, work hard to lean and grow, and go on to make an amazing, and often upper class, life style for themselves. If someone with nothing can achieve that, then someone who at least has the start of being born in the greatest nation ever created has a hell of a head start.
    Again, I'm not defending the actions you describe. However, I will dispute your last statement. People from all over the world do come yes - and your success as an adult has a LOT to do with the situation you grew up in, regardless if that was in the US, Ukraine, Mexico, or China. If I were a betting man, I would put all of my money on the success of the immigrant from China coming here with nothing but the clothes on their backs, but who grew up in a stable environment - OVER the person who grew up in the projects in some random American city with a drugged out mom and no dad - that to me doesn't count as a "head start".

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    With that being said, some people need to understand that demanding respect without being willing to give respect just angers people.
    One thing to understand about urban/black underclass culture and hypersensitivity about "respect" is that it has its roots in the Scottish Highlands culture of the 1600s. Many Scots who immigrated to the US during that time brought along their mindset, which was subsequently learned by their slaves.

    The articles I've read on the topic tend to have the conclusion that American whites and blacks have different definitions of "respect". For whites, it's something that must be earned, according to the Protestant work ethic; it's really a concept that is closer to "deference". For blacks, it's a inherent right that must not be violated.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I
    In regards slavery, the projects of urban renewal, and resentment being passed down from generation to generation, I think that is an excuse, but it is not a justification and does not make any of these actions (past or present) acceptable. Having these neighborhoods being leveled in many cases was wrong. But what is also wrong is the idea that people can not come back from adversity. People from all over the world come to the US with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They come here to become legal citizens, work hard to lean and grow, and go on to make an amazing, and often upper class, life style for themselves. If someone with nothing can achieve that, then someone who at least has the start of being born in the greatest nation ever created has a hell of a head start.
    I think there is a lot of misinformation about immigrant success in this country. The facts are that with the exception of Blacks and Jews, a significant portion of immigrants went back to the countries they came from. One estimate for Italians was close to a third decided they couldn't make it in America and returned. We only see the successes because the failures left.

    It is important to remember that slavery was not the end of exploitation of Blacks. Their communities were systemically destroyed by urban renewal and highway building in the 1960s and 1970s. A study by Yinger estimated that the average Black household wealth was reduced by thousands of dollars by housing discrimination - in the 1990s.

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    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    Has anyone else read "Enough" by Juan Williams. He addresses a lot of these issues in insightful ways.
    Do you want to pet my monkey?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    We have a lot of discussion of why this qest for respect happens, and while I agree with some and question others, does anyone think that in today's society individuals acting, talking, socailizing, or living like this is acceptable? I personally don't think it is.

    Part two is what do you think can be done to change it and have these individuals act in accordance to current social standards which would be found acceptable.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    In Freakanomics, they described how they found a drop in crime that corresponded to family planning becoming more widely available to inner-city minority women. That is a phenomenon that already HAS changed things. Perhaps you'd be happier if there were fewer of these disrespectful people around. The "Why can't you people be more like us?" attitude never seems to go over well.
    As for living within one's means, "means" frequently change, drastically, for many. There are illnesses, accidents, layoffs, restructurings...the list goes on. People who are already economically stressed are more susceptible to it.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater View post
    In Freakanomics, they described how they found a drop in crime that corresponded to family planning becoming more widely available to inner-city minority women. That is a phenomenon that already HAS changed things. Perhaps you'd be happier if there were fewer of these disrespectful people around. The "Why can't you people be more like us?" attitude never seems to go over well.
    As for living within one's means, "means" frequently change, drastically, for many. There are illnesses, accidents, layoffs, restructurings...the list goes on. People who are already economically stressed are more susceptible to it.
    The book Freakanomics also said that the best way to improve drivers safety is to put a large spike on the steering wheel aimed directly at your heart. Additionally if you think that by encouraging others to be a productive member of society, follow the rules and laws, not manipulate the medical system for their benefit while causing a detriment to others, speak English if they live within the United States and not some other foreign language or a hacked up Ebonic version of it, and to realize that stepping out into traffic in the middle of the block while vehicles are in motion is a very stupid idea, then your right, I do want them to be more like me.

    Regarding a person living within their means, you’re right, it will be difficult for the guy who works part time at the local night club and drives a 2007 Escalade with $20,000 rims. But the realization of all of this is that one of the best ways to gain wealth is to stay as much out of debt as possible. While getting a home loan (what is with a reasonable parameter) is understandable, credit cards, in my personal opinion, are phenomenally stupid. Car loans are not much better. Regarding illness, layoffs, accidents and such, that is why people need to save up for an emergency fund of 6 to 8 months of expenses and if you get laid off or let go because of a restructuring then do the right thing and go out and find a new job. Even if it is a crappy “HI welcome to McDonald’s. May I take your order” job, it is still a JOB until a person can get back into a career. Regarding the accidents and illness, that is where this very important concept of insurance comes in. Sure there are Co-pays… but guess what, if done right, there should also be an emergency fund. But unless I am wrong, demanding respect is not a result from an accident, although depending on the environment, it very much could be the cause of it.

    Imagine how much money you would have if you did not have any credit card payments, no car payments, and no loan payments (other than a home loan). What could you buy with that? At the risk of offending people here, intelligent people live within their means. People need to start taking responsibility for their actions and the actions of their children (if they are still under 18) because all too often there is a blame the other guy mentality instead to stepping up and doing the right thing.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  17. #17
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    ...speak English if they live within the United States and not some other foreign language or a hacked up Ebonic version of it,
    This is the one part of your post that I have time to address right now.

    Whose form of English do you wish they speak? If you don't like the innercity African American accented English and think they should speak otherwise, then are you equally concerned with the Southern accent, Boston accent, Rhode Island accent, California accent, Great Lakes accent? Also, those damn immigrants from England, Ireland, South Africa, India, etc need to get it straight or get out?

    Relax, brother.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Mski's, I've been fighting off the impulse to respond to this thread all day but I'm afraid you're going to hurt yourself if you fall off that high horse and the soap box that you've got him standing on.

    Putting aside all the racial and cultural stereotypes, you're left with different cultural definitions of respect, how to gain it, and how to give it. Naturally, the way a person learned it is the way it should be for everyone and those who don't do it that way should change.

    Teenagers/young adults shouldn't even be brought into the equation. They're all more or less insecure, self-centered, disrespectful, etc., because that's part of growing up and finding a place for themselves. They aren't going to lose any sleep or productive work time because they've p*ssed you off. The best thing to do is ignore it knowing that their turn is coming much sooner than they can possibly be aware.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  19. #19
    Maybe we should try to get suburbanites to start to show some respect by not driving gas guzzling SUVs so they don't destroy the planet.

    Somehow its easier and socially acceptable to pick on the poor and the non-White and ignore what we do.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    I think you guys are being hard on mike. There are some definite cultural problems in the black community, and anyone who thinks otherwise has their politically correct head up their ass.
    Do you want to pet my monkey?

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by KSharpe View post
    I think you guys are being hard on mike. There are some definite cultural problems in the black community, and anyone who thinks otherwise has their politically correct head up their ass.
    Is it the black community that he's talking about? I thought this thread started out saying that it wasn't racial. (Sarcasm intended) There are definite cultural problems in all segments of our society regardless of what type of head you have and where it is. Maybe that's the fire that keeps the melting pot heated.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by KSharpe View post
    Has anyone else read "Enough" by Juan Williams. He addresses a lot of these issues in insightful ways.
    I havent read that one, but Im reading "code of the street" right now by Elijah Anderson. Aside from the lame name this book is totally insightful and has reworked my understanding of this issue to a certain degree. Anderson is a sociologist at Yale, so this isnt just a potshot treatise on respect and the behavior and casuality of behavior of ghetto youth.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I think it's also all to common for every generation and group of people to whine and moan about the decline of something or other without noticing the things that have gotten better.

    Is there less respect for elders now? Perhaps. But there is undoubtedly more respect for minorities and women now than 50 years ago.

    Just one example.

    As far as fixing the problems that we have? These things are all problems with deep-rooted causes and even with the right treatment would take generations to fix, just as they have taken generations to get to the point they are now. There isn't an easy fix and it won't happen overnight or even over a couple of decades. Relying on personal responsibility NEVER works at the fringes of the society (all ends - rich, poor, etc)

  24. #24
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    Is it the black community that he's talking about? I thought this thread started out saying that it wasn't racial. (Sarcasm intended) There are definite cultural problems in all segments of our society regardless of what type of head you have and where it is. Maybe that's the fire that keeps the melting pot heated.

    Correct. I really, really want to respond on this thread but I don't think I can do it in a way that isn't dispassionate and non-confrontational. This is one of those threads that tends to take a turn for the worse, then it's locked and everyone walks away feeling worse than they did before they clicked on the heading. The tone for this was set within the thread starter's first few sentences. Suffice it to say that the pathologies within minority communities in the US have very deep roots and they certainly aren't gonna get solved on an internet forum.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    How about a simple explanation: the one who comes out swinging first wins. People who "demand respect" have learned that this is how to get what they want from other people. It immediately puts the other party at a disadvantage. I've got a white middle-class 14 year old and he does this all the time, and he didn't learn it from me. It's like reason, compromise, and discussion take TOO LONG for him. It happens in business, it happens in politics, and it happens not just in urban areas.

    I was at a public beach in FL years ago when a young pro football player and some of his buddies strolled around with one of those giant boom boxes, totally annoying everyone else on the beach. Nobody said a word, not even the park workers. Those kids were just plain intimidating everyone there, and enjoying every minute of it. But they don't get it; they didn't earn respect, they just scared everyone.

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