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tnse

Does the Memphis metro area has a small town suburb mentality?

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"People we talked to from Lakeland, Arlington, Cordova and Germantown said they weren't going to drive to the inner city..."

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/busine...5497951,00.html

Are there people who will always shun venues such as the convention center and the FedExForum even though a lot of money has been spent at these places to upgrade facilities with the attempt to make them "world class?" Is it parking? Crime perception? Racism?

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Hard to say. It may also have something to do with our current government system, de facto trends, and taxation (you pay more inside the city than you do in the outskirts).

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YES! Even the people that live in the city have that mentality. Ive been sayin this for years...even before I moved there....the people are so small town minded. Some dont even realize that they live in a city i believe.

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"People we talked to from Lakeland, Arlington, Cordova and Germantown said they weren't going to drive to the inner city..."

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/busine...5497951,00.html

Are there people who will always shun venues such as the convention center and the FedExForum even though a lot of money has been spent at these places to upgrade facilities with the attempt to make them "world class?" Is it parking? Crime perception? Racism?

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When most people say they hate Memphis and can't wait to get out, what they really mean is that they hate blacks and can't wait to live in an all white place.

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For some reason my mom is scared to go downtown even when I tell her it has some of the lowest crime rates in the city, and on top of that, she used to work down on Front St.

As far as white people disliking blacks, its because when they move in crime goes up. Usually in the lower class black society many of them are involved in gangs, dealing drugs, or something else of that matter. I primarily believe they are like this because how they are raised. When the parents are lazy, don't want to work for anything, and expect the government to pay their way, the children will do the same. This most of the time will resort to them commiting illegal acts to get money or "respect" in their gangs. Most of the time they commit crimes on people of their own race. Also, when they have an educational system that is crap, they don't have any chance to make something of themselves, and even if they did have a great school system most of them don't want to learn anyway. Then there is the rap music. Most of the time it talks about doing drugs, pimping girls, or killing cops. Finally, there is even the upper class blacks, who cheat in an election, shoot at truck drivers on the interstate(a.k.a. John Ford), and many others who take bribe money just to name a few. Then the mayor that could care less for the black people of his own city. He wont even increase the police force to keep the bad neighborhoods safer, and then goes and raises taxes. All of these things lead to a bad society. This is not to say that white people don't do the same thing, it is just on a much lower scale. Its not just white people that don't like blacks its other races too. If the black society wasn't so corrupt many people's outlook on it would be much better.

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That's quite a stretch and a horrible generalization that sets aside many good reasons one may have for disliking Memphis that have nothing to do with the "latent racism" boogeyman - an accusation that is thrown around enough to make people dislike the city.

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For some reason my mom is scared to go downtown even when I tell her it has some of the lowest crime rates in the city, and on top of that, she used to work down on Front St.

As far as white people disliking blacks, its because when they move in crime goes up. Usually in the lower class black society many of them are involved in gangs, dealing drugs, or something else of that matter. I primarily believe they are like this because how they are raised. When the parents are lazy, don't want to work for anything, and expect the government to pay their way, the children will do the same. This most of the time will resort to them commiting illegal acts to get money or "respect" in their gangs. Most of the time they commit crimes on people of their own race. Also, when they have an educational system that is crap, they don't have any chance to make something of themselves, and even if they did have a great school system most of them don't want to learn anyway. Then there is the rap music. Most of the time it talks about doing drugs, pimping girls, or killing cops. Finally, there is even the upper class blacks, who cheat in an election, shoot at truck drivers on the interstate(a.k.a. John Ford), and many others who take bribe money just to name a few. Then the mayor that could care less for the black people of his own city. He wont even increase the police force to keep the bad neighborhoods safer, and then goes and raises taxes. All of these things lead to a bad society. This is not to say that white people don't do the same thing, it is just on a much lower scale. Its not just white people that don't like blacks its other races too. If the black society wasn't so corrupt many people's outlook on it would be much better.

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And by the way, I teach at the University of Memphis, which has the highest percentage of black students outside of the historically black colleges. Approximately 50% of my students in any given class are black, and I can assure you that many of them WANT to learn - in fact, I came here from a school that was predominantly white and predominantly privileged in background and unlike those kids the students at Memphis don't take their education for granted. It MEANS something to them. It's more of a struggle for many of them because they don't have the same family history, or the same excellent secondary school background, and their parents aren't footing the tuition bill so they're working many many hours outside of school - but that's because they know exactly how much that education matters for them. It is a privilege for me to be able to teach these students; it is certainly more meaningful than teaching a bunch of private school grads from the burbs.

One wonders how you would even know about the intellectual motivations of black students if you make such an effort to avoid their presence.

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But those reasons they have for leaving Memphis all relate back to the city being majority black. And those people that hate Memphis seem to have a common thread that they make vaguely racist statements and don't seem to associate with black folk. One of my family members was going off on his usual tirade of how much he hates Memphis and can't wait to move to Atlanta. I pointed out that Atlanta has all the same problems as Memphis--corrupt government, high crime, and bad schools. He replied that in Atlanta, they keep the blacks seperate from the whites and only upper class blacks live near whites. The problem with Memphis, according to him, is that it is too integrated and having to deal with regular black folk on a daily basis is unavoidable. To me, that is something I enjoy. I get tired of being around Germantown white people all the time. I like working side by side with people that grew up in the ghetto. Memphis does have its problems, but they don't affect me nearly as much as people say they do. I wouldn't send my kids to public school no matter where I lived. I believe that religous education needs to be incorporated into a child's daily education. In Memphis, private schools are actually affordable. Here, I can afford to live in a nice in-town neighborhood that has little crime. In Atlanta, I'd have to live out in some boring far-flung suburb and spend two hours a day in the car commuting.

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For some reason my mom is scared to go downtown even when I tell her it has some of the lowest crime rates in the city, and on top of that, she used to work down on Front St.

As far as white people disliking blacks, its because when they move in crime goes up. Usually in the lower class black society many of them are involved in gangs, dealing drugs, or something else of that matter. I primarily believe they are like this because how they are raised. When the parents are lazy, don't want to work for anything, and expect the government to pay their way, the children will do the same. This most of the time will resort to them commiting illegal acts to get money or "respect" in their gangs. Most of the time they commit crimes on people of their own race. Also, when they have an educational system that is crap, they don't have any chance to make something of themselves, and even if they did have a great school system most of them don't want to learn anyway. Then there is the rap music. Most of the time it talks about doing drugs, pimping girls, or killing cops. Finally, there is even the upper class blacks, who cheat in an election, shoot at truck drivers on the interstate(a.k.a. John Ford), and many others who take bribe money just to name a few. Then the mayor that could care less for the black people of his own city. He wont even increase the police force to keep the bad neighborhoods safer, and then goes and raises taxes. All of these things lead to a bad society. This is not to say that white people don't do the same thing, it is just on a much lower scale. Its not just white people that don't like blacks its other races too. If the black society wasn't so corrupt many people's outlook on it would be much better.

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Just when I though the Memphis forum was dead (few posts the past several weeks), this topic starts and boils over. Good stuff...

To comment on the original post, AutoZone park was a kind of litmus test for downtown acceptance in 2000 when it opened. In the mid-90s when it came time to build a new ballpark, "conventional wisdom" stated the facility should be built in East Memphis or Cordova. The Jernigans took a huge gamble, built it downtown, and proved the white, suburban upper-middle class will come to downtown Memphis and spend money on a regular basis. In a way, it helped me decide to move from Collierville and Germantown to Mud Island.

I don't think Tennreb's remark about people eager to leave Memphis based on race is a stretch at all. Since we have been working here locally, my wife and I have heard many similar comments from our co-workers. They never come out and say it's a race issue, but from their comments about crime, corruption, poor schools, etc., you know what they mean. Memphis is apparently a far more integrated metro area than other large cities, and people new to the area are not used to dealing with multiple races/cultures on a daily basis. They preach integration nationally but maybe it's harder to live it locally. I even had a co-worker (originally from Dallas) tell me that because I've lived here almost 28 years, I just don't "get it." Culture shock, I guess.

I think Fellowman's comments about crime rates are mostly on track. I do think the transformations of Frayser, Raleigh and Whitehaven in the late 60s/early70s were more about race and resistance to integration than the transformations of Parkway Village/Fox Meadows in the 80s and Hickory Hill in the 90s. In the 60s/70s, it absolutely was about race and when a few black families moved in, the race to move east and south was on. As people became more educated about the issues and less racist in the 80s and 90s, I seriously doubt most families in Hickory Hill uprooted at the first sign of black people moving in. The two biggest incentives to move are economic (impending annexation) and safety-related: homeowners in Hickory Hill did not want to spend an extra $1500/year on worse city services and schools and when their lawn equipment was stolen and houses/cars were burglarized, the decision was made for them. Crime increased in Hickory Hill long before the white flight began en masse.

Fearless is right about crime really increasing after the tax base leaves, but I think ignores a catalyst for the flight: increasing crime. For most people, moving is a real pain between the physical movement and the emotional movement such as moving kids between schools. But when a spouse no longer feels safe at home, the kids can't go play or walk/ride to school safely, and neighboring houses are getting burglarized, it's time to move. It is not my civic duty to put my family's existence at risk in order to prop up the local tax base, combat urban sprawl, reduce my carbon footprint, and promote multiculturalism. For now, my area, with neighbors who come from places as diverse as Honduras, Pakistan, Eritrea, Germany, and Holly Springs, is plenty safe. But if, for whatever reason, that changes, I am out of here and will look for a safe place with a reasonable cost of living with good schools. If that requires me to move to Hernando, Oakland, or Marion, I won't like it (especially given the long commute), but I'll have to do it. Modern-day white flight isn't exclusively white and is not a decision made as easily as it was 40 years ago.

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The fact that you still have some people who live by that stigma is one reason that this city is so polarized as a whole. Everyone living outside the city opposes annexation and consolidation, and pretty much don't want anything to do with the inner-city culture. De jure and de facto trends aside, I find it very shameful and embarrassing that African-Americans in this city are looked down upon more than in other cities its size, and yet we brought it on ourselves.

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Some of you may think I'm a racist because of my last comment and I really dont care if you do because I think everyone is a little racist in the first place. Also, I am not trying to be nice on here. I am going to tell you straight up what I think.

As far as fearlessvk, My grandmother lives in a neighborhood that has been declining since the late 90s. This neighborhood was built in the 70s and has some very nice homes. The problem started when black people started moving in. Some of them dont keep their yards and houses up. The black lady next door has wood rot and it looks like her house could fall down anyday. On top of this the police have busted at least 3 drug houses the lastest one being probably 1 or 2 years ago. There also has been a shooting which resulted in death of woman about a year or 2 ago, and all of these people were black. Most of the people that originally moved there have seen the writing on the wall and have moved away to a safer place. So dont tell me that black people moving in doesn't have anything to do with increasing crime. I have a neighborhood of proof.

Mr Downtown. Im not talking about every black person, but doing all that is real funny isn't it. Where have the morals gone in this country? :unsure:

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It's certainly not unique to Memphis. In fact, it is probably worse in other cities. Nashville people have to be the biggest closet racists I've ever met in my life. While they'll never say anything overtly racist, they constantly allude to it. Nashvillians who currently reside in Memphis are the number one perpetrators of the "I hate memphis" crap. They like Nashville because their in the clear majority and don't have to share the city. They can marginalize blacks there. The further east you go in the state, the worse it gets. East Tennessee has the be the most racist place in the world. A well-educated and wealthy person from the Tri-Cities who unfortantely had to temporarily reside in Memphis was dining with me in a Memphis restaurant, which had about 1/4 of its customers as black. He told me, "I don't think they should be eating in here with us. Back home we don't have that problem." He got out of Memphis as soon as he could. I'm not saying everyone from out that way is racist. A girl I know from the tri-cities thinks Memphis is a unique and fun city and loves living here. I just have yet to meet a Memphis hater that wasn't racist. Memphis has its problems that make it a difficult place to live in, but it is a really tough place to be if you're racist, and those are the people that use the word "hate" when describing Memphis.

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I find it interesting that the comments in this post have nothing to do with what I would think that it would from the title of the blog. I think that Memphis suffered and still suffers from a small town mentality. Saying that, what I mean by it is that, "Oh no we could not do that here that is for big cities." Not to expect or push for first class ideas, institutions, and services. There was a time when Memphis was much larger than many of it's other southern cities or western cities. It has many natural positives. There is infrastructure in the city that other cities would die to have. It is a major port, has a major airport with the world leading cargo shipping center, is one of the prime rail centers and yet it stays on the sidelines when it comes to job growth and population growth. Yes the schools need to be worked on and there are inequalities in income. The leadership of the city should make notes of the positives and negatives and develop plans to accentuate the positives and improve the negatives. Downtown is an example that it can be done. In the 80's no one thought that it would ever come back. Most of the areas of the cities are nowhere near as mortibund as the downtown had once been. No Memphis is not going have the Federal government come in and place the regional office for every agency in Memphis like they did in Atlanta to give it it's jump start to becoming the largest metropolitan area in the South. Atlanta took that and used it to grow itself far beyond that. Could we move this discussion to a more positive line. What are the deficiencies and what needs to be done to work on them. What are ways that we can instill a more large city mindset and work to improve the city vs. a blame game. Even if there is validity in statements being made, you cannot and should not paint everyone from a particular group with the same brush. If you work together you'll notice more alike than different and better things will come out. When Memphis has done best is when it has had both black and white work together. I am certain that there will be different visions, but composite visions usually are stronger visions than those of only one person or group.

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I understand what you are saying TennBear and apologize if it seems like we hijacked your thread with a tangential issue, but I think it's hard to separate the "small town" sensibility from racial issues - i.e. one of the traditional defining characteristics of small towns is a relatively homogenous population, whereas big cities tend to be huge, diverse, chaotic melting pots - not just of races and ethnicities but also of subcultures. It seems to me that fears and anxieties about "the city" often relate to (or stand in for) fears and anxieties about racial and ethnic "others". So I'm not surprised the thread turned in that direction.

I'm really not sure how you "instill a large city mindset" - people would have to get out of their cars even to begin the process. I'm convinced one of the biggest obstacles to a true urban renaissance in Memphis is the extent of car-dependency here. You can't create a real urban fabric when sidewalks are empty, nobody walks anywhere, and there are endless rows of parking spots separating buildings from the street....

I'm probably still off-topic though. Apologies.

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For some reason my mom is scared to go downtown even when I tell her it has some of the lowest crime rates in the city, and on top of that, she used to work down on Front St.

As far as white people disliking blacks, its because when they move in crime goes up. Usually in the lower class black society many of them are involved in gangs, dealing drugs, or something else of that matter. I primarily believe they are like this because how they are raised. When the parents are lazy, don't want to work for anything, and expect the government to pay their way, the children will do the same. This most of the time will resort to them commiting illegal acts to get money or "respect" in their gangs. Most of the time they commit crimes on people of their own race. Also, when they have an educational system that is crap, they don't have any chance to make something of themselves, and even if they did have a great school system most of them don't want to learn anyway. Then there is the rap music. Most of the time it talks about doing drugs, pimping girls, or killing cops. Finally, there is even the upper class blacks, who cheat in an election, shoot at truck drivers on the interstate(a.k.a. John Ford), and many others who take bribe money just to name a few. Then the mayor that could care less for the black people of his own city. He wont even increase the police force to keep the bad neighborhoods safer, and then goes and raises taxes. All of these things lead to a bad society. This is not to say that white people don't do the same thing, it is just on a much lower scale. Its not just white people that don't like blacks its other races too. If the black society wasn't so corrupt many people's outlook on it would be much better.

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85% of rap music is purchased by white people from the burbs and as a new resident of Cordova I see & hear them everyday listening to it in their cars while they probably are like you pretending that they hate it.

rac

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85% of rap music is purchased by white people from the burbs and as a new resident of Cordova I see & hear them everyday listening to it in their cars while they probably are like you pretending that they hate it.

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I understand what you are saying TennBear and apologize if it seems like we hijacked your thread with a tangential issue, but I think it's hard to separate the "small town" sensibility from racial issues - i.e. one of the traditional defining characteristics of small towns is a relatively homogenous population, whereas big cities tend to be huge, diverse, chaotic melting pots - not just of races and ethnicities but also of subcultures. It seems to me that fears and anxieties about "the city" often relate to (or stand in for) fears and anxieties about racial and ethnic "others". So I'm not surprised the thread turned in that direction.

I'm really not sure how you "instill a large city mindset" - people would have to get out of their cars even to begin the process. I'm convinced one of the biggest obstacles to a true urban renaissance in Memphis is the extent of car-dependency here. You can't create a real urban fabric when sidewalks are empty, nobody walks anywhere, and there are endless rows of parking spots separating buildings from the street....

I'm probably still off-topic though. Apologies.

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When I read this I was amazed! :angry: Its this type of mindset that has perpetuated the black struggle for hundreds of years. As an educated young black man who has worked very hard to become successful, I find your comments disgusting. Being in management, I see hard working African-Amercians who are not in gangs and do strive to learn as much as they can; but I also see whites come in and say with surprise "you're the manager?" as if they are as shocked as you are that black people are actually capable of doing things other than crimes.

85% of rap music is purchased by white people from the burbs and as a new resident of Cordova I see & hear them everyday listening to it in their cars while they probably are like you pretending that they hate it.

To generalize black parents as being lazy and all of the other things that I care not to re-type, you are dead wrong. Just because you are unfamiliar with a particular segment of the population whose culture was stolen away from them doesn't give you the right to neglect the fact that African-Americans have many obstacles to overcome due to people like you. My parents are definitely not lazy. The many black and white folks who work under them can vouch for that.

rac

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Maybe I didn't make this clear enough. IM NOT TALKING ABOUT EVERY AFRICAN AMERICAN. I gave descriptions of who I was talking about, but some of you some of you don't even take that into consideration and you try to drag me down for giving my own opinion. I'm sure there are plenty of great blacks everywhere. Heck I have black friends. I was just saying why some people are scared of or dont like the black society and move away from the city.

Sorry Tennreb for destroying your thread. Getting back on topic, I do think some people in East Memphis (I'm not talking about everyone....I don't want to hurt someones feelings again) are small town minded. For instance, when those condos near Clark Tower wear proposed. I think they were originally supposed to be 16 floors, but they got wacked down to 8 and finally 4. I don't see how someone will let a 400' tower be built, but not some 16 story condos which would be in the 200' range.

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I agree I love that our downtown is different than any other dontown, but I it still kills me to see the lack of companys downtown. I just wish we could have a little more of a business vibe in our downtown.

As for the small town mentality, I think it is changing quickly. It seems like most older people tend to stay back in their safe suburbs, but that might be because they still view DT as the dangerous place that nobody goes at night as it was 10 years ago. On the other hand, the younger people seem to venture downtown oftenly.

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I agree I love that our downtown is different than any other dontown, but I it still kills me to see the lack of companys downtown. I just wish we could have a little more of a business vibe in our downtown.

As for the small town mentality, I think it is changing quickly. It seems like most older people tend to stay back in their safe suburbs, but that might be because they still view DT as the dangerous place that nobody goes at night as it was 10 years ago. On the other hand, the younger people seem to venture downtown oftenly.

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