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Thread: Diplomacy and Political Correctness

  1. #1
    Member trishm1's avatar
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    Diplomacy and Political Correctness

    I am wondering how many of us actually have had problems containing our Roseanne-esque bitterness or elitism? or have strayed over the bounds of political correctness? How often do you practicing planners have had to deal with folks (professional and/or citizen) who really have no idea they are being racist/elitist/closed-minded?

    a) Every dang day! I am surrounded!
    b) It's the public who drive me nuts with their stupidity!
    c) My coworkers are Nazis and/or KKK.
    d) Monkey see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
    e) Certain issues bring out the crazies. NIMBY especially.
    f) I have been lucky/oblivious so far and don't deal with that stuff.

    It must be extremely taxing to be diplomatic all the time. I would really like to hear how some of you have handled these types of situations.

    As city planners and inherently idealistic I think we have a sixth sense about where and when we can let our mullets down and get less pc. It is our job to make decisions based on the needs of the greater population not one class over another. Mullet or not...chickens in the livingroom or not...white trash or not...

    I completely understand the need for being 'polite' in greater society and in one's workplace or school. I do apologize to any white trash I may have offended by my remarks in this and any other thread. I thought I was safe because I didn't think white trash had access to the internet . (just a joke) And...I pre-apologize for any remarks I may make in the future, 'coz ah ain't-a kepping my mouf shut!

    Isn't it just about laughing at ourselves? Some may consider me, yes me, "yankee white trash". I've done some pretty trashy things in my life and associated with some Jerry-Springer-like people and have had great times. Some members of my own family fail to see the value in some of my choices. Does my past give me the right to make fun at the expense of my trashy cousins? Yep it do! BUT...I wouldn't put my biting wit to use at work, school or around sensitive types.
    I may be way out there, but....I thought this forum was casual.

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
          Downtown's avatar
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    Trishm -

    I agree. IMO, Cyburbanites need to remember that the PC-ness that we're all driven by at work can be checked at the door here. I'm a tremendous bleeding heart liberal, but that doesn't prevent me from laughing hysterically in my cubical at El Guapo and the other members that inhabit the right of the middle spectrum. As long as people aren't being inciteful (is that a word) when posting, I think we all need to just relax and enjoy each other's perspectives. Because ultimately, the people that post here are basically looking for some sort of affirmation that they aren't the lone sane person in that wacky world of planning.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    KMateja....

    .... do you mean incite-ful or sight - full ??

  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I think I might have a unique situation in the little town where I work. When it was originally platted in the late 1800s, there was a specifically designated "colored quarter" -- the blocks are narrower, and the lots smaller than what is found in the rest of "Old Town." Even to this day, Old Town is segregated; there's only a few African-Americans living outside what is now called the "West Side" in Old Town. The dividing line is sharp and clear; you'll see large homes on one side of the street, and rundown shotgun shacks on the other. (The newer subdivisions outside of Old Town are all quite well integrated.)

    Every so often, I have to deal with certain residents who will reference the "damn West Siders." I try to ignore comments that are blatantly racist; however, I have a very low tolerance for being called a racist myself. With code enforcement, I'm in a nnearly permanent catch-22 situation -- the West Side contains only 20% of the town's population, but about 80% of the code violations occur there. If I'm doing a code enforcement sweep, one which is town-wide, I'm racist -- most of the violation letters are going to black West Siders. If I'm not doing any code enforcement for a few weeks, I'm racist, because I'm ignoring the obvious problems with poultry, abandoned vehicles, piles of car parts, overgrown lawns and so on in that neighborhood -- "you'd never let it get that bad in the white neighborhoods." (Yes, violations pile up there FAST, for some unknown reason.)

    I feel a need to defend myself from accusations that I'm racist, but I know it's one of those things that liberal society finds easy to prove, and nearly impossible to disprove. Increasingly, I've been stopping a conversation immediately once someone plays the race card. "Sorry, but our discussion has degenerated to a point of name-calling, and it's going to have to stop here. If you feel I've been discriminatory in any way, I encourage you to talk to the Town Manager, or bring it up before the Town Commission." They never do.

    For some reason, outside the small enclave where I work, this region of the Orlando metro area is very blue-collar -- not blue-collar in the northeastern sense of middle-class factory workers and retirees indulging in bingo, bowling, and Sunday morning radio polka shows, but those working in construction or the mechanical trades, who jack up their pickup trucks, put strange phrases on the front window, place devotionals to Dale Earnhardt, bass fishing and the Confederate States of America in the back, and so on. You hear couples have conversations that could be wordsmithed to create an old-school country music song. You go into a restaurant and hear "bleep bleep" every 30 or 40 seconds -- the concentration of Nextel towers must be immense to handle the usage evident here. Mullets, Southern rock, NASCAR, rasslin' ... I can't help but feel a sense of "WTF?"

    Am I feeling culture shock, or is it elitism? It's as if the region really isn't a part of the Orlando metro area -- that it's really a displaced neighborhood from Dothan, Alabama or Dalton, Georgia. The little town where I'm employed doesn't have this cultural orientation, but then again, even people in this county don't know where it is.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
          Downtown's avatar
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    Dan, I can totally sympathize. The county I worked for in South Carolina had something like a 50% high school graduation rate among adults in the 1990 census. There were enclaves in the county that I would not survey without the county vehicle in fear of being shot at for trespassing. Not to jump on a PC bandwagon, but mild sexual harrassment almost every single day by customers and co-workers. Customers who would bring their tobacco juice cup into our office while applying for a mobile home permit. My husband definitely had an elistism problem, but then he had also been harrassed and threatened by strangers for his NY license plates. I just viewed it as a cultural experiment and now look back fondly at Meat and Three lunches at the "Workin' Folk Cafe", a hole in the wall meat and three place that our office would flock to on Salmon Patty day. Yum.

    I can also understand feeling isolated, because while our county was seeing a HUGE influx of Yankees (NY, NJ and many midwesterners), all of my co-workers were Good Ole Boys, I was the only college educated female, the youngest on staff by a good 15 years and the only one with no children. It was really hard to meet people who we could identify with, northern or southern, and especially since we weren't church goin' folk.

    So I guess I'm off on a tanget, but what I'm trying to say is that you're probably feeling both. But after you've been there long enough, you will get acclimated, and seeing a shrine to Jeff Gordon in one of the inspector's cubes won't seem quite so weird.

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by KMateja
    I can also understand feeling isolated, because while our county was seeing a HUGE influx of Yankees (NY, NJ and many midwesterners), all of my co-workers were Good Ole Boys, I was the only college educated female, the youngest on staff by a good 15 years and the only one with no children. It was really hard to meet people who we could identify with, northern or southern, and especially since we weren't church goin' folk.
    (Slight hijack here, mods.)

    Feeling like I'm on the outside looking in ... yeah, I'm very familiar with the concept. My first job, I was the only single guy in the department. Because this was southern New Mexico, with a cultural orientation that was very tradiçional, I was seen among some as a horto. Having a girlfriend in city gocernment changed that, fortunately. Still, there were a lot of couples' gatherings among city staff. I had a large circle of friends outside work, though, so it wasn't that much of an issue.

    At another job, most of the staff were family family ... workplace coffee cooler talk centered around ear infections, report cards, daycare, and similar topics. The incessant kiddie talk was very in your face, and really very depressing.

    Here, it's not as if I feel like I'm out-of-place among town staff. I'm a big fish in a small pond, and we're a pretty diverse bunch. Because of geography, though, I have to live in an area where there are few peers -- young, single professionals. I'm deep in middle class "familyland," an anomaly living alone on a third acre at the end of a cul-de-sac. If I lived where my peers buy houses -- west central Orlando, Winter Park, Altamonte Sptings, Longwood -- I'd be looking at commute times of 40 minutes to an hour, instead of the 15 minute hop to work now. I'm finding it very difficult to make friends, because the peer group near me is nearly nonexistent.

    Okay, end hijack. Sorry.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  8. #8
    Member Mary's avatar
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    From my personal experience working for a community of 2500. (My last job) It takes awhile to fit into smaller more closed communities. The first year you are a COMPLETE outsider. At least that's how I felt. After that it gets a bit better.

    Church folk do have the best luck as they walk into an instant community. I actually ended up making friends with a bunch of the teachers they proved to be one of the only mostly young reasonably educated and intelegent groups in the community, so if you don't have kids keep an ear open and if someone says teacher put on your friendly face and start up a conversation it may be the only real intellegent conversation you get for the next month. (If they are worth talking to still no garantee to that).

    If you can stand any of the clubs, eagles, or whatever you can also meet people through those groups although you should probably hunt for one that suports a goal you can at least get behind a bit. Good luck, if it helps after 3 years I'm not really sure I wanted to leave. I told my friends that this was proof of my insainity and that I probably needed to be shot before it became a permanent condition.

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