Best of the Week
of Jan. 20, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Jan. 20, 2002, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s database using the search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. You are encouraged to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

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Question:

A year ago, my 27-year-old sister Michele dumped her 27-year-old boyfriend after dating him for three years. Robert was a sweetheart to Michele, who has always been pretty mean to guys. She admits she treated Robert like dirt. Robert and I always got along great, but we never hung out much with the same crowd. Then about six months ago, we started spending a lot of time together as friends. Now I've fallen in love with this guy, who is sweet, gentle, handsome, successful (and as I've learned this week, happens to be an incredible lover). We are in love, and I think this could get serious. I am 24 and ready to settle down, and Robert is, too. My parents adore Robert but we haven't told anybody that our friendship has blossomed into love. My sister and I have never been that close, but there's a part of me that feels like I'm doing something wrong by dating and getting serious with my sister's ex-boyfriend. Am I doing anything wrong, and do you think there will be any long-term problems with my family if we marry?

POSTED 1/22/2002

Sherry, St. Augustine, FL, United States, 24, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 121200271112

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Question:

I live in Germany and have noticed that a great many Germans who live around me do not acknowledge any sort of religion. They don't pray before they eat, attend church or seem the least bit spiritual. I was wondering why Germans (or some Germans) don't go to church. I attend a Christian service here in Germany, and we had a gospel concert downtown. Lots of Germans showed up and enjoyed the music. I have heard that some Germans love gospel music. There are many old churches here, but it doesn't seem like religion or spirituality is part of German culture. Can anyone offer some insight on this?

POSTED 1/22/2002

Anjela, n/a, na, Germany, 30, Female, Christian, mixed race, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 121200292737

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Question:

How can white men lust after Asian women they apparently hate? I'm a big fan of Asian porn because I find the women very beautiful and sexy. But I can't stand the American-made porn films that feature Asian women. It always shows white men with them, never Asian men, unlike black women who usually are with black men in porn. The white male porn stars are incredibly racist, calling them things like 'yellow sluts' and making racist comments about whites being better than Asian men. The titles of the movies are incredibly racist too. Why (besides the money) do these Asian women put up with it? Do they have really low self-esteem? I can't imagine black women making films with them being called n****r sluts. And have any Asian women had to deal with this kind of thing in real life when they date white men?

POSTED 1/21/2002

Porn lover, n/a, ID, United States, 22, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 120200215858

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Question:

Why do African Americans continue to complain about discrimination when I feel that the role has reversed to white Americans? For example, I'm an avid reader, and in numerous novels with black characters, they make derogatory comments concerning whites. In the book How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Terry McMillan speaks about an old white man lusting after her body. I can not quote this exactly, but feel free to look it up. Why is that? Black people have cable channels, scholarships, months of remembrance, and the list goes on. I think the African-American community would be outraged if we specified a scholarship to be eligible for white students only. I believe that everyone should realize that we are all discriminated against. Isn't it time that we continue to remember slavery but get off the bandwagon with the rights issue? We all have the same rights, and for every job you don't get because you are black there is someone who isn't getting a job because they are white or brown, etc. Does anyone else feel like this?

POSTED 1/21/2002

Monica A., Fort Worth, TX, United States, 23, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Homemaker, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 120200223749

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Question:

My daughter is in the U.S. Air Force. She has been intimidated by two black women on a daily basis. One of them gets in the chow line and lets other blacks in. My daughter took offense to this and told her it was not right. The black woman told her, 'I'm from L.A., you better shut your ass up or I'll whip you right here.' She has a black roommate. Her roommate has black friends in the room all hours of the day and night. They play rap music. If she is studying and asks them to turn it down, they tell her to shut her mouth. Her roommate turns the lights out when my daughter is in the middle of something, and warns her not to turn them back on. Also, she will come in in the wee hours of the morning with her friends and bang around and flip the lights on. Again, if my daughter complains, they get really nasty and tell her to shut her mouth. They sit on her bed. The 'higher-ups' ignore the situation. She has called home in tears several times. Every day, it is some form if intimidation. Yesterday she told me she is the one who has to keep the room clean. Her black roommate told her, 'I ain't moppin' no damn floor.' She is now totally miserable. As I said, the 'higher-ups' ignore the situation. She is about ready to go AWOL. There HAS to be a solution. Comments?

POSTED 1/15/2002

Joseph, Covington, KY, United States, 47, Male, White/Caucasian, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 112200255545


Responses:
You should tell your daughter to stand up to these girls. She should be as firm and impersonal as her drill sergeant. She should not fear being called a racist for standing up for herself, because she certainly will be. In the end, she may gain their respect for not being a typically weak 'white girl,' at which time she can return the favor by telling them to go f**k themselves.

POSTED 1/17/2002

Nancy C., Bethesda, MD, United States, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 115200240922


Whether right or wrong, I think that as a whole, African Americans think of whites as being passive. So maybe these two females have that mentality. Has she tried to change rooms? And even if she changes her room, what's to stop the intimidation? I don't think this is a situation she can avoid; she must fight it out. She may win or lose, but she might have the satisfaction of knowing she stood up for herself.

POSTED 1/17/2002

Christi, San Diego, CA, United States, 21, Female, Methodist, Black/African American, Straight, U.S. Navy, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 115200293954


I think it's ridiculous that your daughter's superiors won't help her. I wonder what their excuse is. What do they expect her to do? Do they consider this some kind of 'toughening up' exercise, whereby she'll either stand up for herself and risk a violent altercation, or just 'suck it up'? There's got to be something that can be done. Go to the military site at About.com. If you can't find advice among the articles, you should be able to find some on the message boards, which is frequented by mostly millitary personnel, many of them seasoned. I'm sorry this is happening to her. I hope you find a solution.

POSTED 1/17/2002

Jennifer, St. Paul, MN, United States, 31, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1152002105757


What your daughter has to deal with are jerks who happen to be blacks who are bullying her. The ugly tone coming through your question is that you always find blacks threatening. You may have passed this attitude onto your daughter, and that may be part of what is fueling her problems. Their ethnicity has zero to do with anything, and I wonder why either you or her would think it does. They seem to be (or pretend to be) from a tougher upbringing than your daughter and take advantage of that fact to intimidate her. Sorry, but I have to wonder if someone who breaks down crying over this even belongs in the military. I had problems with jerks of all backgrounds while in the Army, redneck whites, blacks who were ex-gang members, and sheltered suburban white kids as well. But I found far less racism in the military than outside it. (After all, it's the only place in America where blacks routinely give orders to whites. Corporate America can't make that claim.) What your daughter needs to do is stand her ground, no matter what, even if it means the threat of a fight. Every single bully who gave me problems in the Army backed down and proved to be all talk. And frankly, what good is she to this country and the Air Force if she crumbles so easily? Occasionally I would meet people who would hide behind their ethnicity as an excuse. This may be the case here, but you don't really say that. The ones who can't stand this more than anyone else are NCOs of the same background. Any Latino or Indian sergeant of mine always came down much harder on me when I screwed up than on someone black or white, because he did not like seeing us embarrassed as a people by one person's screwups. The black sergeants I knew could not stand black enlisted men who caused problems, and they let them know it by coming down on them like a ton of bricks. The same thing should happen here. If not, there was always a toll-free hotline to report abuses and problems anonymously. Going AWOL is the worst thing she could do in this situation, but frankly if she can't stand up for herself and handle this problem, I think the Air Force is better off without her.

POSTED 1/17/2002

A.C.C., Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Grad student, ex-Army, Mesg ID 1162002100000


It seems that your daughter's problem is with rude individuals who just happen to be black. Rude individuals, as I'm sure you know, come in all shapes and colors. These people obviously act like people with no home-training, but it isn't a 'black' thing. I would give her the same advice you would give anyone being bullied: tell somebody of authority. And if that doesn't work, grow some balls and stick up for yourself. Without knowing the details of your daughter's situation, it would be hard to come up with anything more specific. I'm sorry she's having such a hard time.

POSTED 1/17/2002

Tish, Newark, NJ, United States, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 116200271054


I gave your question some more thought and instead of fighting the girls, she should file a grievance against her chain of command. Chances are that even though her immediate higher-ups are ignoring her, their boss - the Commanding Officer (CO) - has no idea of what's been going on. The grievance she files will make them take action because if the CO does find out that they have done nothing for her, then I guess you can say that the sh*t will roll downhill.

POSTED 1/17/2002

Christi, San Diego, CA, United States, <genius248@hotmail.com>, 21, Female, Methodist, Black/African American, Straight, U.S. Navy, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 116200282321


The only way your daughter will ever feel a moment's peace is if she asserts herself more with her roommates - even if that means having a verbal and/or physical confrontation.These women are obviously stupid and inconsiderate, and the only way to treat such people is with the like. Hers is an unfortunate situation, but it's better for her to have a fistfight and risk military punishment than to give up her dream of serving and go AWOL. I don't really think this is an issue of race, but of nasty individuals taking advantage of someone who they see as having a disdain for confrontations.

POSTED 1/17/2002

Jesse, New York, NY, , Mesg ID 117200273911v

I am sorry your daughter is having such a hard time, but she needs to stand up for herself,and not let those 'women' push her around. My guess is that they see her as weak, and because she is white, they treat her like crap, even more so than if she was black and they thought she was weak. I know bullies like that, and you pretty much have to (literally or figuratively) 'bust they heads 'til the white meat show' to get them off your back. I hope her situation improves, and that she doesn't go AWOL.

POSTED 1/18/2002

Senetra, Anderson, IN, United States, 28, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 1172002103430


Your daughter needs to learn to stand up for herself and call their bluff. As long as she allows others to push her around, they will. She will be looked at as weak and an easy target. She should document all the harassment (times, dates, actions, perpetrator) and go to her next in command with the complaint. Allow for a reasonable amount of time, and if no action occurs, she should go to that person and tell them that if the complaint is not resolved immediately she will go over his/her head. Then do it. Keep in mind that using this course of action could backfire and cause her more grief. She should absolutely not go AWOL.

POSTED 1/18/2002

Bill, Burlington, VT, United States, 43, Male, White/Caucasian, Finance, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 118200273502


First, make sure you daughter does not develop a dislike for black people based on these two jerks, who happen to be black. They come in all colors. Second, tell her to step back and take this for the lesson it is intended to be. She must learn to stand up and not be intimidated by anyone. If this were a war and they were the enemy, would she let them beat her psychologically? Hell no. And you can bet her higher-ups are watching to see how this Air Force cadet handles this situation because they know she will deal with worse than this in war time. This is really a training ground for her to develop a tough skin. I had a manager who decided that I would be the person to whom she would vent her anger in life. Well, I was like your daughter until my mom said pray about it. And I did. I began to realize that this woman was a very unhappy person in her personal life and that it was not about me. It was her problem, not mine. Then I began to be able to not let her bother me so much. In fact, I began to see the humor in it all and how silly she was being. The laughing helped her lose her wind because she saw I was no longer afraid of her. Incidentally, God used me to change her life, because when she was down I was the only one who had the heart to show compassion, though she did not deserve it from me, of all people. It changed her because she remembered how mean she was to me when I extended myself to her.

POSTED 1/21/2002

Angela, Atlanta, GA, United States, 29, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, mom, wife, writer, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 119200291051

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Question:

Can anyone tell me, once and for all, which religious belief is the one true faith that will guarantee me a place in heaven? And, why should I believe you?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Douglas, Pontiac, MI, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 15200265343


Responses:
There's no evidence of any afterlife, so don't worry about it.

POSTED 1/7/2002

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 172002100226


You're going to get all kinds of answers depending on what religion a person belongs to. I will tell you in all sincerety that Christianity is the one true religion, and unless you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you will not be saved. The second part of your question is much more difficult. Why should you believe me? Indeed, if you are looking for some formula or 'proof,' you're not going to find it. That's why religion involves faith. Every religion I know of involves believing what you can't understand. Christianity is the only religion that says there is nothing you can do yourself to be saved, except believe. I think this turns a lot of people off because we must admit that we can't control everything. Read the Bible seriously, get some Christian religious books and look at Luthers small and large catechisms, which explain the Lutheran belief and why we believe it.

POSTED 1/9/2002

P.M.B., Appleton, MN, United States, 49, Male, Lutheran, White/Caucasian, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 18200260238


Religion is a manmade thing that can never guide you to the right place. It's a way to control people by providing such attractive and alluring scenarios as heaven. That's why man, who is and has always been greedy, looks for the most attractive benefits each religion provides after his death so he can enjoy a good life in the future. I would say there is no heaven or hell. A person dies and it's over, the same as with all the animals, and there is no religion that can take you there. All a person can hope for is a good conscience that can direct a him or her, even when there is no concept of heaven or hell. A person who does good just because his religion says so is ignorant and heartless.

POSTED 1/11/2002

Omer G., Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, Atheist, Mesg ID 110200235119


In my opinion, no religion can guarantee you a place in heaven. Why? Because religion is more complex than just simply the worship of God. It is also a form of cultural expression that integrates society and history in its constructs; it is based more on opinion than facts. If you ask a Christian, for example, why he or she believes Christ is God (a belief that some religious groups cannot accept fully), he or she will tell you it's because of 'faith,' or simply an overwhelming 'feeling' that tells them this is true. Buddhists, Jews, Muslims or those of other types of religions also have this same type of faith in believing their religion is the best one. And because faith has no factual or scientific basis, you really don't know which one is right. With that being said, what religion should you choose? To me, it doesn't matter. God has not really made it crystal clear what path is appropriate for salvation. Many would argue with me (especially Christians because that's what I am) and use as an argument their 'faith', and reference to their holy books (which usually are archaic writings that reflect society in earlier days) to say their religion is a must for heaven. And, although some actual history can be found in these books, the other elements of religion contained in them can not be proven by today's scientific logic, unless one has the ability to go back in time. One example of this is Jesus Christ. Historians accept him as a historical figure, but many (unless they are Christian) do not accept him as divine. Christians believe he is divinity because of 'faith' and also the miracles He did in the Bible, but can these miracles be scientifically or even historically proven? At the present moment, no. So where is there proof that Christianity is right? There is none. This example (with probably tons of others that can be found in various religions) is why I think God does not really care. Religion is just a method of worshipping Him; there is freedom to choose which one you want. In conclusion, choose the religion that is best suited for you, if you must have a religion. Some people worship God but don't follow an organized religion. This means they don't go to a church or do religious rituals, but they do strive to do good and worship God as they see fit. What matters is what is in your heart.

POSTED 1/22/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 16200253216


I've wondered the same question since I was a little child. Whoever I asked would say their religious is the best and will get you in heaven. Whether it was the Witnesses, the Methodists, Mormons, Baptist, they all said the same thing. But someone told me something: 'Just go by the commandments.' They are described more in depth in the book of Matthew in the King James Bible. The commandments are a guideline for getting into heaven. The only true belief is the belief you have in those commandments and the faith you have in yourself and God to follow each of them.

POSTED 1/22/2002

Demetris, Durham, NC, United States, 18, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Full-time Student, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 114200210032


It depends on what you consider heaven to be. Buddhism teaches that the endless cycle of rebirth is hell, and in order to attain enlightenment you must do away with greed and the sense of self. You can meditate, and hold fewer viewpoints. Stay neutral, and let people be themselves. There is a code of conduct. And if some of the writings seems tedious, remember that the dying Buddha told his students they must remove the edicts that were not so important. Unfortunately he didn't tell them which ones those were. So you have to figure it out yourself. So be a teacher, and meditate.

POSTED 1/22/2002

Pat, New York, NY, United States, 22, Female, Bahai Faith, Asian, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 117200230124


Some people will say that theirs is the only true religion, but according to your question, there can't be more than one, which leads to the question of whether there actually is one true religion. I say it's whichever one you want (or none at all). The right belief is one that makes the most sense to you. There are plenty out there; decide for yourself.

POSTED 1/22/2002

Pete, Richmond, CA, United States, 23, Male, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 119200252448

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Question:

What does the term "White Bread" mean?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Brando, Vancouver, British Colombia, WA, United States, Mesg ID 15200275444


Responses:
I think the phrase is usually used to mean bland, mainstream, unduly wholesome. Your local library could probably find a definition for you in a slang dictionary.

POSTED 1/7/2002

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 17200295448


I recently heard this term used in a question on a game show, and the answer is that 'white bread' really has nothing to do with race. It means 'dull, boring, plain, etc'. Kind of like how white bread is plain and doesn't have a whole lot of flavor.

POSTED 1/22/2002

E.J., Somewhere, WI, United States, Mesg ID 17200221818


White Bread (literally, the bread) is made from white flour which has parts of the wheat removed -a lot of the 'roughage' that gives whole wheat bread a stronger flavor - stronger but unappealing for some people. So as a metaphor, the expression 'white bread' referring to style, cooking, personality, etc. usually means no particular ethnic, regional or cultural flavor, i.e. bland but inoffensive. Think of TV newscasters who have rid themselves of any individual accent or speech patterns, clothing or hairstyles that would betray their background.

POSTED 1/22/2002

Lori, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 41, Female, White/Caucasian, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 17200222155


I agree with Rick. I don't think it has anything to do with race. I think it's because white bread, as compared with other breads, is bland and without much substance.

POSTED 1/22/2002

Barb, Reading, PA, United States, 46, Female, Jewish, Mesg ID 182002120214

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