General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Why do most of the people in urban areas who eschew the sidewalk seem to be African-Americans?

Asked by wundayatta (58625points) January 22nd, 2009

I see this very often. There’s a perfectly good sidewalk, and it’s as free of snow as the street is, yet the person walks in the middle of street. I keep on wondering why they do that. I don’t believe I have ever seen a white person do that, but if I have, they form a small minority of those who behave this way.

Is there a cultural reason to do this? Is it about safety? Does have something to do with racism? Is it an agressive act, slowing down the passage of white folks in their cars? This last doesn’t makes sense because it could just as easily be a black person in the car. Is it a protest against cars? An environmental thing? I’d love it if someone could explain this to me.

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75 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

I’d love to know the answer… I notice this all the time in my town.

Response moderated
queenzboulevard's avatar

I know many African-Americans, and out of the four people living in my dorm, two of them are also. They’re always yelling and carrying on about something, and it seems like they always want someone to be looking at them. I see this with African Americans I don’t know, too. I’ve never heard anyone as loud as they are. I know plenty of white folk that are loud to get attention, but not nearly as much as African-Americans.

I take that to mean they want some attention, and I suppose part of that is walking in the middle of the street, so that more people will look at them and see that they’re different.

I’m not racist, although most everyone in my part of the state is. My two African-American room mates are hilarious, and I had two different ones last year, who I’m still good friends with.

If I had to go farther with it and say why they do this, I’d say it’s African-American rappers. They give this image of only caring about yourself, gettin money, being different, stuff like that. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hip-hop music, but I also know what it means. Most people idolize celebrities, and since most rappers are black, that’s who they imitate. Obviously not all African Americans are like this, just like all Americans aren’t obese (I swear).

EmpressPixie's avatar

When I walk down the middle of the street, it is often because no, the sidewalk is not just as clear as the street or there is a huge mound of snow between the street and the sidewalk and I don’t feel like climbing over it.

Of course, in college, I walked down the street half the time because there were people on the sidewalks or I was making my own path, or whatever. I’ve never been very mindful of sidewalks. The only ones that are really useful are the ones where they let everyone take whatever path they wanted then paved the most oft used areas. And the ones on the sides of the street in busy cities. I’m still not actually used to being from a busy city.

forestGeek's avatar

In my neighborhood, people do this because are looking into the cars for unlocked doors or items to steal. If they walk the sidewalk, they are to far away from the cars, due to the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the cars. This is definitely not a race thing here either. Cars get broken into all the time, in fact mine has been 5 times in the past few years. I keep nothing in there worth stealing, but it still happens.

When I see this, I watch them, get a good look at them, and make them uncomfortable. Hopefully this might deter them.

cwilbur's avatar

I walk down the street rather than the sidewalk because there’s two inches of slush on the sidewalk because it’s improperly shoveled, or because there’s a 4-inch deep lake where the sidewalk meets the street and I don’t feel like going wading.

GAMBIT's avatar

@cwilbur – Thank you for the thoughtful answer.

cookieman's avatar

Here is Boston I have seen this (and done it myself) but only for the reasons stated by @cwilbur. I also have not seen this confined to black people.

If I had to pick a group at all, I would young (high school – college – age) and a bit cocky.

So it’s a combination of convenience and cheeky. Which is all well and good until you get creamed by a bike messenger.

yes, I was young and cocky once ;^)

cage's avatar

Here in England we have pavements.
People use them to walk on, and if you bump into one another you apologise for 10 minutes even if it wasn’t you fault.
If you walk in the street and get run over, people will say “well he deserved it”.

wundayatta's avatar

@EmpressPixie @cwilbur

I assure you the sidewalks are clearer than the streets right now. The street snow (we only had half an inch) compacted to ice, while the sidewalks are clear. In any case, this happens all year around.

Also, there are no other people on the sidewalk. This happens out in the neighborhoods and not center city, where the sidewalks are crowded. It is done in the middle of the night as well as in the middle of the day. They are also people of all ages. Today it was a middle-aged couple.

The people who do this rarely are looking into cars. You see a group of girls, or a group of boys laughing and giggling down the street. They’re all black. The white children do it on the sidewalk.

If you let them know you’re there, they move to the side, although slowly. I have a pretty quiet car, so sometimes no one knows I’m there until I pass them (it seems like overkill, not to mention impolite, to honk at them).

Personally, I think it’s an attitude thing. Kind of like, “I’m a person just like you, and I have a right to this street, and I’ll prove it. You can’t pass by until I let you.” I think it’s the effort of a group that has been discriminated against for generations to show they have power.

Then again, that seems kind of silly. They probably don’t even think about why they do it. It could be unconcious. Then again, it’s clearly a gesture of disrespect for the rules of society. Perhaps a rebellion of some kind, or a taking back of power somehow. Perhaps I read too much into it.

tinyfaery's avatar

To me, this is a borderline racist/prejudical question, and answer for that matter (since daloon did give an answer). You cannot assume anything about an entire group of people, especially a group that you do not belong to and could NEVER understand. I see all types of people in the middle of the street. I think this is more so in urban areas because there is little open space.

GAMBIT's avatar

@tinyfaery – if I could I would give you 5 stars. Thank you

cwilbur's avatar

@daloon: the sidewalks may be clearer than the streets where you are; in charming Somerville and Cambridge, where the police have been incredibly lax about enforcing the law that residents must shovel the sidewalk in front of their residence, the situation is entirely different.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I mean, when I was growing up we did it in my neighborhood so we could all walk near each other and chat more easily. It facilitates group conversation or many small conversations to not be on the sidewalk.

wundayatta's avatar

@tinyfaery: I totally agree that it’s a subject that makes people very uncomfortable, since we have a hard time dealing with issues of race. However, I see what I see. I’m just wondering why. I’m not condemning anyone for doing it, even though it is annoying. I’m just wondering why.

You know what else? When you see or rather, hear a couple walking down the street, screaming their dirty laundry in public, it is, yes, a black couple. What’s that all about? It has to be a cultural thing. American blacks have a distinctly different culture from Jews, Italians, Irish, and other so-called caucasion groups of varying ancestry. Is discussing the differences in behavior that result from differing cultures racist? If so, then, by god, I am a racist, and proud of it!

Oh, and where I work, it is our job to teach folks about issues of race. Every department has it’s own “Race” course. We are sensitive to these issues.

@EmpressPixie: I think that makes a lot of sense, but how do you explain singletons and couples? There’s plenty of room….

Hey, maybe not. Blacks on the subway train always require two seats, and may very grudgingly share one of the seats if the train is really full. Blacks seem to require more personal space between them. Maybe that’s what’s going on. The sidewalk is just too narrow for them to be comfortable?

tinyfaery's avatar

Tell that to Barack and Michelle. I’m sure they walk in the street and yell in public all the time. Cultural? Eck. Your just digging yourself in deeper.

Lunch is over. Gotta to back to work. I’ll catch up later.

cookieman's avatar

<<pssst>>, daloon. isn’t that your phone ringing? <wink> you have to go now right?

(for the love of pete, man. step away from the keyboard and no one will get hurt)

EmpressPixie's avatar

Honestly, once you are in the habit of doing it with a group, you’re in the habit of doing it.

Um, in my experience those on the train or bus are more than willing for you to sit next to them regardless of race. Though I have noticed Trixies are less likely to be gracious about it. They’ll sit on the outside seat and act like it’s just the end of the world to let you get in there sometimes. Not appropriate during rush hour.

wundayatta's avatar

Maybe it’s a Philly thing.

cwilbur's avatar

Maybe it’s an observer-bias thing, where things you see that reinforce your preconceptions are remembered and things you see that challenge them are forgotten.

wundayatta's avatar

That’s possible. However, I have a history of going overboard in reversing my bias (for example, I always underestimate my contribution to things and my value, in an effort to not make promises I can’t keep), and I have spent a large portion of my life thinking about race and racism. I think it’s unlikely that it’s observer bias, but you could do a survey if you wanted to find out. Heck, you could do a focus group, and interview people to find out why they do this. Maybe there’s a dissertation in it.

poofandmook's avatar

If a group of people frequently exhibit a behavior that becomes a stereotype… like gay men with a lisp, Jewish people being cheap, etc etc the list goes on… it’s a behavior that for whatever reason, seems to be common in more than a few people from that group. It’s not racist. It’s an observation.

I’m a firm believer in there always being a little kernel of truth in everything people say. If you didn’t think it at least a little, the thought would never cross your mind to begin with. The same theory applies here. There are cultural differences between races. Observing those differences isn’t being racist.

cwilbur's avatar

@poofandmook: until it reaches the point where it’s a self-fulfilling stereotype. I don’t know any gay men with a lisp, or any Jewish people who are cheaper than average, for instance; I suspect that counting that as “an observation” means that you’re looking for things to fulfill the stereotype. And when you look for something like that, you find it.

Consider daloon’s observation that people of color walk in the street, not on the sidewalk. If he’s like your average person, when he sees a person of color walking in the street, he’s going to say, “aha! another one!” and it will reinforce his observation. When he sees a white person walking in the street, he’s going to say, “wow, that’s weird,” but not change his observation materially.

It’s the same way with the “gay men lisp” and “Jews are cheap” observations. When you see 100 non-lisping gay men, you don’t change the belief; when you see one lisping man, whether he’s gay or not, you reinforce the belief.

stevenb's avatar

good answer cwilbur

poofandmook's avatar

@cwilbur: Sure. But the stereotype exists for a reason. It’s a behavior that is more common in that group than others.

I should note that the examples I used were extremely common stereotypes, not things I obvserve. I personally hate the gay lisp stereotype… and as far as the cheap Jew one, that stems from my Jewish roommate making fun of himself for being cheap, so it was foremost on my mind. Just sayin’.

tinyfaery's avatar

Sterotypes are not objective, they are subjective. You might hold a stereotype that I do not. How can a stereotype be true?

poofandmook's avatar

I didn’t say it was true. I said there’s a kernel of truth to everything people say, just like there’s a kernel of truth to every stereotype. You may not believe something someone says, but it doesn’t mean it’s not at least a little bit true. Same with stereotypes. Just because you don’t recognize it, doesn’t mean it isn’t at least a little bit there.

Nimis's avatar

Stereotypes themselves are subjective.
Though their existence is objective.

However, to perpetuate them or not is your own choice.

poofandmook's avatar

Alright. Daloon and I live nowhere near each other. Yet we both live in places where it seems that black people like to walk in the street instead of the sidewalk. Coincidence?

pekenoe's avatar

It’s possible that it has to do with disdain for authority and rules.

tinyfaery's avatar

Who else walks in the street? Maybe it’s a self-fufilling stereotype. What cw said. Where I live Latino people walk in the street. There is no way I’d ever make a judgment or assume anything about other Latinos because of it. The need to reinforce a stereotype smacks of prejudice and potentially racism.

poofandmook's avatar

I’m not reinforcing it, and I’m not sure Daloon is either. Last week, I asked one of my roommates, who is gay (they’re both married), what the deal is with the gay lisp. Why do people think gay men have lisps? Where did the lisp come from? Was that reinforcing? I don’t think so. I think it’s a curiosity as to why the stereotype even exists.

Nimis's avatar

I don’t think the perpetuation of stereotypes
is always done intentionally or even maliciously.

I heard a group of gay men speaking in a lisp.
Statement of isolated experience. Not perpetuating.

I heard that gay men speak in a lisp.
Generalization. Perpetuating.

This is just my opinion, of course.
And I’m guilty of perpetuating stereotypes all the time.

For the record, I think that lisp is more of a phenomenon than a stereotype.
The gay lisp does indeed exist. It just doesn’t apply to everyone.

@poofandmook And, no, I didn’t think any of those questions you asked were reinforcing.

wundayatta's avatar

I see a behavior. I only happen to see one type of person doing it. Maybe I have some kind of perceptual problem. Maybe my obsevations reflects reality. That’s an issue we can’t solve. We’d have to do a scientific study. If cwilbur wants to believe my observations are biased, that’s fine. We don’t know each other. We have never met each other. That’s as much a bias or sterotype as my view of the world is.

I’m still interested in a reason, and I’ve been thinking about it today. I wonder if blacks have a different need for personal space than whites. They often take up more space in public transportation. It’s kind of funny. They won’t sit next to each other. They’ll take two seats across the aisle from each other. Then, as the trolley fills up, and people sit on the other seat, they continue to talk to each other over the others in the middle. They don’t move to sit next to their friend. On subways they’ll take seats behind each other. They won’t sit next to each other. Not always, of course. But often enough that it is common behavior.

So, if you need more personal space (and we know the amount of space varies by culture—most whites are terribly uncomfortable in arab nations, because they are constantly touching and in your face), maybe that helps explain the walking in the street. Perhaps the sidewalks are too close and makes some of them feel uncomfortable.

Which raises another question—why do different cultures develop different notions of personal space? Coming soon to a fluther near you.

tinyfaery's avatar

I give up.

Nimis's avatar

I think your intentions in asking the question are fine.
It’s just people may be troubled by the wording.
Not that your wording is incredibly insensitive.
Rather, it’s just a sensitive topic in general.

On buses and subways, it seems that everyone
spaces themselves out regardless of race.
It’s polite. Kind of like not taking the urinal
next to some guy if there are others available.

I take public transit quite a bit and see all sorts of preference for sitting arrangements. Personally, I don’t like facing the back of the train or bus. I would rather sit across from my friend or next to a stranger.

Occasionally, I will notice what you perceive to be a larger personal space around some black passengers. Though I’ve never read that as something of their own doing exactly. At best, a conditioning by society that their presence is intimidating to others.

One time, the only forward-facing seat was between two black kids. They were sitting kitty corner from each other, with their legs stretched out. (This is not something to attribute only to black people. I do this quite a bit.) I felt kind of bad taking up their leg room (when there were other seats open), so I explained how I didn’t like sitting facing the back of the bus. There was a moment of hesitation, but they gladly made room for me.

After riding a few blocks, one of them suddenly declared:
I was really surprised that you wanted to sit here!

I was a bit confused at first and started to explain
again my dislike for sitting in forward-facing seats.
I get kind of car sick when I—

People are usually scared to sit next to us.

Which totally caught me by surprise. At first, I was kind of incredulous. I mean, come on. We were in the bay area, the liberal bubble of the world. He told me that people would rather stand than sit next to him on a crowded bus. That’s silly! Maybe it’s not you and they just prefer to stand? I offered.

Then he told me that just last month, a lady had demanded the seat from his mother. That just seems crazy to me. It was 2006 and we were still having Rosa Parks moments? But even more than the absurdity of someone asking his mother for his seat, his hurt confusion/confession was even more touching to me.

I think many black people’s perceived personal space is a two way street. Many of the black people I pass while walking in West Oakland, give me a wide berth. I am a short (5’2”) female. (Needless to say, I shouldn’t be that intimidating to a much taller male.) Though whenever I make contact and say a simple hello, I seem to get a surprised reaction and the personal space you perceive is greatly diminished. That’s really all it usually takes.

When people think you want space, they’ll give it to you.
Just be aware of the signals you’re sending out.

Sorry this took so long to compose! Had to run off to do an errand.
I seem to have developed a really bad habit of starting a response, then running off!

tinyfaery's avatar

I Lurve you.

Nimis's avatar

I know I wrote that and all.
But I’m surprised you actually read all of that.
Thanks. But yous twos is crazy!

GAMBIT's avatar

To answer your question I had to get rid of the thought that you are an ignorant racist. I don’t know you and who am I to judge. That would not be fair to put a label on you. Once I let that view pass I needed to ask the question in the light that you seriously believe that race has something to do with why people walk in the street in the snow. First of all I must tell you I’ve seen white, black and Hispanics people walk in the street. Why? BECAUSE THE SIDEWALKS HAVE NOT BEEN PLOWED. This is extremely obvious. So I came to the conclusion that you are using an event to support your preconceived views and coming to your own bias conclusions. Either that or after seeing Obama walk down Pennsylvania Ave. you felt a need to rally some type of white offensive on Fluther and say black people want power. That was my immediate reaction yesterday.

Today I gave it a little more thought.

A large portion of African Americans and people with low income jobs don’t have cars and they take the bus to and from work each day rain, snow or shine. In a snow storm the buses don’t run frequently and therefore they are forced to walk to work. They can not afford to call into work to ask for a day off like people who have higher paying jobs. This is why you see them walking. They have no other carriage but there feet.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Stereotypes are heuristics. They are quick rules of thumb that make thinking easier on human beings. They perpetuate because at one time they were true or are considered common knowledge about something. The brain is always looking for little shortcuts, so we use stereotypes—consciously or not—to help in decision making. Because the brain likes them so much, we pick up on them quickly regardless of truth. Also, importantly, many stereotypes are true. Many stereotypes are not true. While no rule will be true across an entire population, it can apply to the vast majority of the population.

wundayatta's avatar

@GAMBIT: As I have repeated, over and over, the sidewalks are clear. This happens in the summer, as well as the winter.

I’ve been doing some reseach and found some things that suggest various possible explanations for the behavior. First, the behavior might be related to the gangsta walk or turfing. I am inclined to think that if there is a relationship here, it is a tenuous one.

Second, I’m not the only one who wonders this. As you can see, others wonder about it, too.

Another theory can be found on Yahoo Answers. Here’s someone from Yahoo answers that suggests they are showing off for their friends by annoying traffic.

Finally, I am getting a little pissed off about accusations of racism. Not to put too fine a point on it, this racist crap is bullshit. It is merely an attempt to sidetrack the issue by throwing out spurious slurs on my integrity. What is this? Stalinist Russia?

The truth is that it’s not just whites who notice this. Blacks ask the same question. Why do “black folk” walk in the street? is the title of a blog entry on a blog entitled You’re Not Black Enough.

Here’s the text of the question:

I have a question to ask that I have wondered about since I was a child, and it is: Why do “black folk” walk in the street, instead of using the sidewalks. I am really perplexed by this behavior, especially when I know that if there were no sidewalks for “black folk” to use and “white folk” had sidewalks, there would be another “uprising” and a lot of grandstand “picketing” going on.

Because black folk would DEMAND to be treated the same way! Oh yes, you would. You just told yourself that I don’t know what I’m talking about and “Black folk” don’t walk in the street—next you’ll say they don’t barbeque on the front porch and sidewalk, right?

I really am perplexed about this, because not only is it nonsensical but its very dangerous, and while I do have my own theory as to where this behavior is grounded it would be interesting to here from someone that does it. So if you care to elaborate, please do.

So I’d appreciate it if people would deal with the question, instead of making accusations of racism. If it helps you, you can treat it as an “if” question. If black folk walk in the street, what would explain the behavior? I’d also appreciate it if people could resist the character slurs until after they have a whole lot more information.

GAMBIT's avatar

@daloon – what is your point? Really tell me. Get rid of all the garbage and please tell me what is your point in all this nonsense and then please tell me why you posted this question. When America is trying to unite for you are trying to divide. I am trying not to lose my patience with you.

wundayatta's avatar

My point is that I’d like an explanation for why black folks might prefer to walk in the street. And again, please stop with the irrelevant slurs. If anyone is trying to divide, it is you. You could easily have ignored this question if it wasn’t to your liking.

GAMBIT's avatar

@daloon – I never said it wasn’t to my likin and I tried to ignore it but your writing is so loaded just like when it was on another sight you were on. I had to look at it like a bad car wreck.

GAMBIT's avatar

Thank you sir and thank you for giving both of us a way to bow away from this discussion. Have a great day daloon.

poofandmook's avatar

I just want to point out that if I’d asked the question, Nimis’s story about the bus would’ve been a great answer and I would’ve been satisfied. In short form:

Q: Why does it seem that black people walk in the street instead of the sidewalk?
A: Unfortunately in our society, in this country, past prejudices have bred today’s black American citizens to keep their distance.

HOW THE HELL IS THAT RACIST?! UGH. Why does it always have to be about RACE?! There is a difference between RACE and CULTURE, and to me, anybody who can’t differentiate those two are the ones who are biased.

GAMBIT's avatar

@poofandmook – Please next time you see someone walking in the street please ask them why they are there and you will find your answer.

You asked why does this have to be about RACE the question singled out a race of people did it not?

poofandmook's avatar

@GAMBIT: If Daloon had worded it differently… if he had said: “Is there a facet to African-American culture that they prefer to walk in the street instead of using the sidewalks?” Would you have taken the same offense?

GAMBIT's avatar

I think that is a very good question poofandmook but how can I answer you when that wasn’t the question. If you would like to ask that question yourself for an experiment please see if you get the same response. I have to go now and spend time with my family. It is my hope that we can meet on another question where we are more likely to agree.

Good day to you sir.

poofandmook's avatar

[sigh] my point was that my example was what Daloon was trying to say. People who cannot differentiate between race and culture… people who make it about race, would have read it negatively… instead of neutrally, which is how I put it, and how it was intended.

Please don’t give me that “I have to go spend time with my family” BS like you’re wasting your time here. You clicked the question, you chose to read it.

and I’m not a sir.

GAMBIT's avatar

Actually I do have a family and I can not give you anymore of my time. I logged back in because fluther shut down and I didn’t want to leave your question unanswered. I called you sir out of respect. Goodbye.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Yes, but poofandmook is a lady.

GAMBIT's avatar

Thank you EmpressPixie.

I’m sorry. My apologies poofandmook.

As a wrote in my e-mail to you poofandmook. I will be happy to finish our discussion on Monday. I fluther on the weekdays when work is slow at the office.

tinyfaery's avatar

This is how you find out why black folks (did uncle Tom right that?) walk in the street: Find every single black person and ask them. Blacks from the
South, the West, rich, poor, gay, straight, I’m sure they will
all say the same thing.~

—If we all admitted to our racial
prejudices instead of trying to
deny them, then maybe we’d all have a real conversation
about race.—

GAMBIT's avatar

@tinyfaery – it is a losing battle tiny. The best thing to do is just let this fester out. Nothing will be gained in this discussion. It is best to defuse the situation.

poofandmook's avatar

…except I’m not racially prejudiced. I can’t admit something I don’t have.


GAMBIT's avatar

Thanks for coming back poofandmook. I am sorry I got into this conversation. I let my emotions rule over my brain and should have either passed this one by or I should have been more thoughtful in my responses. Judging people I don’t know anything about is wrong and I hope you and Daloon will accept my apology.

tinyfaery's avatar

Everyone has racial prejudices, including me. I don’t deny it, and that is why I will learn and grow. Everyone saying they are not racist is why racism is still so prevalent in America today. I apologize to no one. The teachable moment has obviously passed.

poofandmook's avatar

@tinyfaery: You know I have a great respect for you. But you said nothing “teachable” in this thread. You threw out accusations and judgments. Nobody’s asking for an apology from anybody. What I’m not understanding, though, is if you have racial prejudices yourself, why you spoke down to Daloon (and I) about this “prejudice” we wondered about as if we were bigots?

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t understand your comment. I don’t think I ever accused anyone of being anything. I merely challenged daloon’s questions and subsequent comments. And as far as teachable is concerned—today you thought about race.

wundayatta's avatar

Not that it’s the topic, but @tinyfaery, I don’t believe you understand what racism is. Or, if you do, and you have admitted to it, you may be providing an example of it. You seem to be making judgements about people based on practically no evidence. Racism is a prejudgement based purely on how someone looks or sounds or acts, and is not applied equally to all different people. What I am talking about here is not a prejudgement, but a question about behavior I see that is expressed disproportionately by people of one race.

Of course, we also have to talk about what “race” means, which it a pretty complex topic. There certainly is no scientific distinction between people that are considered of different races. It is purely a social and cultural construct. However, deconstructing that construct is a pretty fraught enterprise.

tinyfaery's avatar

You are getting too esoteric and philosophical. Sure we can talk about race with our deconstructions and biases, but racism is an experience, not a word, not an idea.

By the way, I studied gender and race for 6 years at UCLA, so if you want to talk about Kristeva and Derrida, or bell hooks and Anzaldua, I can do that too, at length, to no end…)

So in which way was I expressing racial prejudice? Quote me directly, please.

wundayatta's avatar

@tinyfaery: ”So in which way was I expressing racial prejudice? Quote me directly, please.

I don’t know. I’m just repeating what you said: ”Everyone has racial prejudices, including me. I don’t deny it, and that is why I will learn and grow.

You’re welcome to take it back if you can’t give examples.

I’m afraid you’re the only one who can answer that question. Indeed, what were you referring to?

Oh, btw, I didn’t study gender and race myself, but I play one on TV :P (if you don’t know the cultural reference, I’ll explain later). And I haven’t read Derrida or Chomsky or any of the other effect intellectuals myself. I tried once, and put it down after a paragraph. No one knows how to write intelligably. Or maybe they do, I I’m too dumb to understand it. No, everything I know about deconstruction, is what I thought up with my own little brain. Feel free to ignore it. After all, I’m not brilliant and consequently, no one should take me seriously. I know I don’t.

tinyfaery's avatar

Way to take it outta context.

wundayatta's avatar

Way to give a non-answer answer.

akeil's avatar

I walk down the street because I like the openness of it, and unless I’m slowing up traffic or worried about being hit, I don’t see much of a point in being stuck on the sidewalk.

akeil's avatar

Could you reframe the question as “why do non-African Americans always stay on the sidewalk?”

wundayatta's avatar

Why do most non-African Americans always stay on the sidewalk?

Fair enough.

puzzles's avatar

really sounds like you have some hidden issues to explore within your own mind why you hold such intrigue on African Americans. i’m Black and live in a mostly white community (like 99 %). most all neighborhood streets are paved with sidewalks yet plenty 20 and under if they’re not skateboarding the streets, ALL white. Maybe it’s where you live and travel, maybe if you actually run a survey, you’ll find the numbers don’t bear you to be as accurate with your observations as you think.

wundayatta's avatar

@puzzles That’s certainly possible.

Edik's avatar

The frequency of African Americans jaywalking or walking down the street instead of the sidewalk could reflect traditional issues of money, race, space and land in this country.

For a group of any inner city people who feel penned in by poverty, racism, small living quarters, lack of open space and lack of mobility, it is only natural for that group to build a culture of embracing as much open space in the public realm as possible. Yes, it seems unsafe to jaywalk, but so is much of what poor inner city people experience every day.

If inner city African Americans bend the pedestrian rules of the road and offend you, then you need to understand that we as Americans have a shared responsibility to ALL fellow Americans, not just individual responsibility or responsibility to our own race. This includes respecting our fellow citizens and their differences as part of our greater American family, not as others separated by race. Maybe then we can expect all of our fellow citizens to follow the rules of the road. That most likely will not be in any of our lifetimes, however, because of all of the historical racist baggage we carry as Americans. Such change takes generations.

wundayatta's avatar

To me, the behavior of walking in the street when the sidewalk is perfectly clear, or the habit of crossing the street, say in the middle of the block or even at an intersection just as the light turns against you, is a kind of passive aggressive act. People will cross very slowly, without looking at oncoming traffic, making the traffic slow down.

It gives the pedestrians some power over a random persons life, and to me it feels somewhat aggressive. Maybe they can make someone miss an appointment, or maybe they can just generate a little road rage. Maybe even get honked at.

Some people doing this will hurry up to cross before you have to slow down. Others will not acknowledge the existence of a car barreling down on them.

I think that poverty, and race, and maybe even lack of space might have something to do with this behavior. Probably history has something to do with it as well. It’s interesting that I see it less these days than I did before. I wonder if the economy has something to do with it, as well.

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