The Black Redneck Version of Respect

"You can't give respect unless you get it first."  That was the ethical maxim presented to me over a decade ago by a young black high-schooler.  The assertion possesses a superficial plausibility that attends so many pop-cultural aphorisms – like the bogus observation that folks can't love others unless they first love themselves.  It would have been nice had the student put forward his dictum in my class as a topic for reflection.  Instead, the saying was proffered in a hallway as justification for the chip he carried on his shoulder toward a classmate. Fortunately, as an ethics instructor, I was able to offer what I considered a convincing refutation of his motto by asking the young man to envision a room full of strangers, all demanding respect of everyone else because "you can't give respect unless you get it first."  Under this not so implausible scenario, a simple meet-and-greet is transformed into a...(Read Full Article)

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