Best of theWeek
of Feb. 16, 2003

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Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchangeseither begun or advanced during the week of Feb. 16, 2003, as selectedby Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries fromprevious weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s database usingthe search form , or, in the case ofanswers posted before April 24, 1999, inthe Original Archives (allquestions from the Original Archives have been entered intothe database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in thedatabase, you will find questions that have received answers, as wellas questions still awaiting responses. You are encouraged to answerany questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as toask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are notnecessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographicgroup, but can provide a window into the insights of an individualfrom that group.  
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Question:

Why do Middle Eastern women have to have everything on their bodies covered except their eyes?
POSTED 2/17/2003
Andy, St. Charles, IL, United States, <Borderguy10@AOL.com>, 14, Male,Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School student, Less than HighSchool Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 214200362719

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Question:

I spend a majority of my free time with homosexual people. Others takethis to mean I am gay, but I am not. Would it be out of the question to juststop hanging out with these people, or should I just ignore what people aresaying?
POSTED 2/17/2003
Deanna, Lansing, MI, United States, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 217200395404

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Question:

Why don't black parents teach their kids about name-calling? They don'twant to be called names because of their color, so I would think this wouldlead them to teach their kids that any sort of name-calling is wrong. I hearda black student tell a white student to 'sit your white a** down.' Isn'tthat a racist comment? With my kids, all it took was to point out to themhow it makes them feel when someone calls them a name. If you put your kidsin the 'wronged' postion, they have a better understanding as to what itfeels like rather than just telling them. Teaching kids that it goes bothways is a must.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Leah, Bartow, FL, United States, 40, Female, White/Caucasian, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 217200325555

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Question:

Why do people from India haggle so much? I am in retail sales, andI work in an industry where margins are low. I have come very close to losingmy temper with people who haggle like this, and I have actually yelled ata couple of Indian people in the past, and it didn't seem to have any effect.I am slowly losing patience, and most of the time I walk away from Indiansin my store and let other salespeople deal with the frustration. Could someoneoffer some advice to help me understand how to deal with these people ina better way?
POSTED 2/17/2003
Doug, Omaha, NE, United States, Male, Mesg ID 217200310440

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Question:

What is the optimal age for marriage? While browsing through postingson Y? Forum, I noticed that several people in their early twenties (and sometimesteens) were married. I find this odd - probably because I'm 26 and unmarried.It seems as though it would be extremely difficult to be in a lasting relationshipwhen you're so young. You don't have a clear sense of yourself, let alonesomeone else. You haven't settled in a career. You haven't explored the world.How can you come together with someone else when you haven't finished growing?
POSTED 2/17/2003
Helen, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, 26, Female, Black/African American,Straight, Grad student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 217200312007

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Question:

I'm 12 but act and look very mature for my age. Some peopleeven say I look 14 to 18. I'm an honor student and am quite popular.Some students say I act 'white' because I tend to use a proper voice.But I also have my 'ebonic' voice because I live in the South and amaround mostly black people. I don't know where I got my proper voicefrom. Also, some students say I have 'white girl' hair. It used to benappy with the best of them, but I trained it and now it's verystraight, and I can swing it like the women on television. Am I asellout, or am I'm just different?

POSTED 2/2/2003

Afftene, Bessemer, AL, United States, 12, Female, Christian,Black/African American, Straight, Student, Middle class, Mesg ID21200320616


Responses:
Your speech and hair do not define you as a black young woman. The properEnglish you refer to is associated with white people because that is whowe so often hear speaking that way. But that doesn't make proper Englishthe domain of white people any more than ebonics is the language of blacks.They are languages and speech choices that can belong to anyone. It is wonderfulthat you are able to speak proper English and ebonics. You can converse witha wider range of people in a way that makes both groups feel comfortable.As far as hair, you are choosing to alter your hair texture to make it straighter.If you like it, then go for it. If it's more managable, then so be it. Irelax my hair because I like the way it looks and feels. The changes youmake and the way you speak are choices you make. You are not a sellout forbeing yourself. And being yourself is doing what you choose to do.
POSTED 2/13/2003
Corinne, Oakland, CA, United States, 22, Female, African-American/Caucasian,Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 232003122218

It is common for people to try to box others into a nice little category.Don't feel like you have to label yourelf as a 'white girl in a black girl'sbody.' You are not a sellout; you are unique, and just because you speakEnglish in the proper sense doesn't mean you are betraying anyone or anything.Too often it is thought that African Americans all share the same culture,but do you think a black living in Altanta will have the same culture asa black living in El Paso? African Americans are not the homogenous groupthey are made out to be. Just like Caucasian Americans, things such as traditions,religion, appearance or food preferences vary depending on factors such asclass, education and health, to name a few. There is no one way that youshould look or act, so don't think you are anything less than you are: aunique individual who shouldn't be forced to box herself into a premade label.
POSTED 2/13/2003
Deeders, Tallahassee, FL, United States, 19, Female, Mesg ID 23200384510

Talking properly isn't anything to be ashamed of, regardless of what ethnicbackground you come from. You sound like you have a very good head on yourshoulders for a 12-year-old. Be smart and be yourself.
POSTED 2/13/2003
Ben, Morgantown, WV, United States, 25, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight,salesperson, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 242003121621

You are not a sellout for simply being smart and utilizing your own potential.As far as looking 4 to 6 years older, that's no surprise; girls mature muchfaster than boys.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Ridley S., Chambersburg, PA, United States, 22, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 29200350654

A sell-out thinks that speaking standard American English, being on the honorroll and being able to swing your hair about somehow makes you better thanother people. Ask yourself if you think you are better than other peopleby virtue of these qualities you mentioned, and you'll have your answer.
POSTED 2/17/2003
M.J., Brooklyn, NY, United States, 33, Female, Agnostic, Multi-racial, Straight,Musician, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 210200363443

Don't let anyone define you. There is no correct way of being black. Thinkabout it a minute - you're accused of 'acting white' because you're articulateand do well in school? (Let's forget the hair thing for now, that's a wholedifferent can of worms.) Are your critics implying that inability to speakproper English and doing poorly in school is acting 'black?' It sure soundslike that to me. As black people we've got to stop this. Continue to conductyourself with pride and confidence - you'll be fine.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Missy B., San Francisco, CA, United States, 46, Female, Black/African American, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 214200354721

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Question:

A couple of female friends went with me to a club. A guy walked up to oneof them and said, 'Hi, I'm Rick.' She kept looking forward and put her handout - the 'Talk to the hand' pose. He said, 'Wow. Cold,' and walked away,then came back and yelled, 'Why are you such a bitch? All I wanted to dowas say hi!' She told me she couldn't understand why he said that, and Isaid, 'Because you were really rude.' We got into a big fight about it. Iunderstand not showing too much interest, but simply greeting a 'Hi' witha 'No'? We were at a store checking out, and the clerk asked a friend whather Spanish last name meant, and this same friend laughed in his face andsaid, 'Oh, God, n-i-i-i-c-e try' Do women think it's OK to treat men likethis?
POSTED 11/25/2002
Craig, MInneapolis, MN, United States, 39, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 11222002100417


Responses:
Some women would be more rude than that. When it comes to guys, even in aclub, the women are very rude to whoever they think is not their type. Thereare some women who are shy and not even open to men who try to say 'Hi.'I believe it is not OK to treat a man like this, no matter how you see thatperson or how they may act when they come up to a woman. I feel that whena men comes up to a woman, the woman should act like an adult and not somekid who plays little games. She should just say, 'I am here with my friendsand not trying to get picked up right now,' etc.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Veronica, Daly City, CA, United States, <beauty03_18_freedom@yahoo.com>,17, Female, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Straight, Student, Middleclass, Mesg ID 11282002115616

I do not think it is nice or acceptable to treat people that way. Your friendwas really rude. I always say treat people as you would want to be treated.Suppose the girl in the club got up enough nerve to say hi to someone shewanted to talk to, and he did the same to her? She would probably feel verybad. There are polite ways to let someone know you want to be left aloneor are not interested. Most folks can tell, by your actions, whether youare a smart (polite and respectful) person or an ignorant (rude and disrespectful)person. First impressions are lasting ones.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Sammi B., Boston, MA, United States, 37, Female, Black/African American,Straight, artist, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 121200210520

I think when men or women have been treated rudely or badly by the oppositesex, too many times they cease to see individuals and instead see only 'allmen' or 'all women' and make snap judgments. In this case, the guy couldhave been an arsehole, in which case she's saved herself some trouble. Thenagain, he couldv'e been this great guy that she's just passed up. Plus, whenpeople have this 'must find a partner at all costs' mentality, it kind ofshows on their faces, and they then become even less attractive.
POSTED 2/17/2003
A.J.B., Melbourne, NA, Australia, 37, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 123200291155

I do not think it is OK for women to treat men like your friend did - especiallythe extremely rude 'talk to the hand' stuff. I don't think anyone shouldtreat anyone, male or female, with such disdain. I've had similar experiences,except that when I've turned a guy down politely, I've been verbally assaultedwith a torrent of 'bitch,' 'ho,' 'you think you're all that,' etc. It's unfortunatethat some people have no home training.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Jay, New York, NJ, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 124200265143

The way women treat men is simply inhuman. Have you ever spoken to a womanand weren't even worthy of 'the hand'? She just stares straight ahead asif you're not even speaking. I've gotten it at least twice. Women think nothingof kicking a man in the teeth as if he doesn't feel a thing, and then expecthim to come back again and again. That's why they can't meet a 'good' or'nice' man. Good men are tired of the game playing.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Nathan, Seattle, WA, United States, 30's, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American,4 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 12252002121555

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Question:

Why is it that when white people are grouped together, such asduring spring break, bike fests and so forth, they have no shame inperforming sexual acts out in the open? It is as if they have lostall sense of pride. You would never see black people doing suchthings. Do they not realize their family will eventually seethis?

POSTED 2/2/2003

Ms. Molly, Clermont, FL, United States, 34, Female, Christian,Black/African American, Lesbian, Retail Manager, 4 Years of College,Middle class, Mesg ID 22200353542


Responses:
I always have that same thought: 'Don't they get that their family mighteventually see it?' But it's not just about white people - black men andwomen are also in pornos. True, white people do this stuff on Spring Breakand not just for pornos. I think it's disgusting that anyone does stuff likethat in public. Slutty white girls give us all a bad name. White people doneed to chill with the public sex fests. Not cool.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Ivana, Lancaster, PA, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 26200371825

Idiots come in all colors.
POSTED 2/17/2003
ElsaMaria, Helsinki, NA, Finland, 18, Female, Orthodox Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 23200381212

White poeple don't give a damn and couldn't care less if their parents or family members see it.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Charles C., Middletown, CT, United States, 18, Male, Upper class, Mesg ID 262003105143

I live in Galveston, Texas. Every spring there is a weekend event on theisland for black college students. It's pretty publicly debauched .... somuch so that one doesn't dare take young children to the beach that weekend.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 46, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, CorporateCubicle Dweller, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 26200331042

I agree that the behavior you describe is pretty offensive when shared inpublic. However, in my experience, it is not a white thing. Because you identifyas a lesbian, you have likely been to gay community events (rallies, prideparades, union ceremonies) where same-sex couples have held hands, embraced,walked arm-in-arm, walked with arms around each other, or engaged in lingeringkisses ... all behavior that would alarm some folks, non-gay people in particular.You may or may not have been to gay bars or clubs where the ambience is moresexual than social ... there are such clubs for men, for women and even somewhere men and women mix. Sometimes the activity there is more explicit -full or partial nudity, more profoundly intimate contact in pairs or in groups,s-m play. This is pleasurable for the participants and willing witnessesbut not everyone's idea of entertainment. Never in these events that I havebeen to, or heard of, have I had the sense that these where white-only events.In fact, I (a white, gay male) have been to such events that were predominantlynon-white. I have a feeling that these events that I describe and that youmention (I assume from 'Girls Gone Wild,' Mardi Gras and spring break videos,right?) are just examples of people blowing of steam in an environment wherethey feel comfortable and with others of similar sexual taste. Maybe younotice an all-white strain because these filmed and videoed examples arebeing advertised for sale and the sellers believe that their customers arewhite and want to see white people. Similarly, one rarely sees people ofcolor in Martha Stewart Living magazine or at NASDAQ events, but it doesnot mean that in life people of color do not cook (or keep showcase houses)or drive cars (or even race them). I suggest that the 'black-out' you noticeis commercial and not behavioral. In fact, there is a considerable amountof sex material (magazine, books, tapes, etc.) featuring non-white peopleand intended for people of color. Of course, it is not advertised on television.I might add this thought: 'The sexy stuff I like is erotic, the sexy stuffothers like is pornography.'
POSTED 2/17/2003
Tom, Buffalo, NY, United States, 50, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay,Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 28200335637

Black people are not immune to 'wild' promiscuous behavior. In fact, that'sone of the reasons blacks are having increased problems with teenage pregnancy,AIDS and so forth. And believe me, some young blacks can and do get justas 'dirty' as young whites. The porn industry sells to both races. Anyway,what you see on the 'Girls Gone Wild' videos are representative of how peopleact when they're drunk. Do you really think most of those women would behavein the same manner if they were completely sober? I doubt it. Many of themprobably do regret the things they've done, if of course they don't wantto portray themselves in a sleezy manner. One must also consider the factthat it could be a cry for male attention.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, 22, Female, Christian, Black/AfricanAmerican, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID28200364205

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Question:

In nine years I've worked with about 100 computer programmers,120 technical support staff and 50 system administrator-typepositions. Only one support engineer was African American. This lackof diversity bothers me, because I know that computer programming isso fun and cool. I'm tired of the lack of diversity in my field. Iwant to help this part of the economy be diverse as well, just likein the Microsoft commercial. But first I need to know why this is.What is keeping any person who is smart and drawn to computers fromentering the market?

POSTED 2/2/2003

toddmo, Dallas, TX, United States, 36, Male, Atheist,White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Programmer, 4 Years of College,Middle class, Mesg ID 222003121430


Responses:
There are a thousand reasons why there aren't many black programmers, butyou sound like someone who'd like to see that change. Why not get with ahigh school or college in your area and see if you can come up with someideas to remedy the lack that you've observed?
POSTED 2/17/2003
E.D., Kansas City, MO, United States, 46, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 24200390637

I have no answer, but I know this same issue bothered my former employerenormously. They kept trying to find out why the company was viewed as 'unfriendly'to African Americans. We certainly had plenty of Latinos and Indians. Mostof us weren't really programmers, but we were in the IT industry as vendorsand support staff. I would say that the same applied to our customers.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, 54, Male, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 26200363313

Where I'm from there are a lot of black people in that field. Perhaps it'sbecause statistically the number of blacks in computer technology in Texasdwindles to nothing by the time you get past getting into a good school andthen discrimination when getting a job. If you can get me and a few friendsof mine cushy jobs somewhere, we won't turn them down! Also, a lot of companiesrecruit from Historically Black College and Universities Check them out.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Jan C., Kingston, NA, United States, 21, Female, Christian Scientist, Straight,4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 26200352903

When I was growing up in Baltimore, no black family in my neighborhood owneda computer. However, most of my white friends' families had computers. (Itseemed I was the only kid among my black peers willing to withstand the ostracismthat came from spending time with white kids ... even in their homes.) Idon't think I let a Christmas or birthday go by where I did not ask for acomputer, but I eventually learned that we simply could not afford one. Anytime I spent using a computer was when I was at my friends' homes. At somepoint, a white colleague of my grandmother’s gave her a used Texas Instrumentscomputer to give to me. I spent hours writing code for simple graphic patternsand stuff. Eventually I wanted a better one... an IBM, like my white friendshad. I also remember wanting books, disks and cartridges for the Texas Instrumentscomputer, but, of course, no one could afford them for me. I love computers.As an adult, I've had some low-end database management jobs, but I like computergraphics and design more. Many of the friends I grew up with have reallynice jobs in the programming industry now. One guy is making more than $100,000working for the State Department. They are all self-taught. Right now I'mmaking about $25,000 basically pushing paper and entering data into databases.Sometimes I think, 'Man if I just had my own (real) computer when I was akid...” Who knows? When I was a kid I thought, 'Man, if only I could be adoptedby a white family.' That's actually what I thought. I think I will have totake classes to catch up with my white peers who I grew up with. I just don’thave the time I’d like to devote to teaching myself. And I can’t really affordthe classes. I have to note that I still feel hurt, anger and resentmentfrom when I was a kid. Once I realized the economic disparity between myfamily and other black families and the families of the white kids I knew.It's just something I feel, but I don't know that anyone in particular deservesit.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Antoine, Seattle, WA, United States, 30, Male, New Age/Metaphysical, Black/AfricanAmerican, Bisexual, Data Entry Clerk, 2 Years of College, Lower class, MesgID 210200364638

One reason for the lack of diversity is perhaps the lack of access to computersin the homes and schools, as well as a lack of a serious connection beingmade between computers and Nintendo/Game Boy, etc. Funny, these homes willlack computer equipment, but almost everyone has a gaming system. Makingthe connection with designing the games to production gets left out in theadvertisment. If you are truly interested in bringing more diversity intoyour field, it would be great if you and a few of your collegues contactedlocal schools in areas where computers are not the 'norm' and make presentationsfor kids, get them interested early. Design a training program and presentit. Just showing how fun and cool computer programming is, and showing aninterest in kids, is usually a good way to get them involved.
POSTED 2/17/2003
Serene, Chandler, AZ, United States, 44, Female, Black/African American,Self Employed Administrative, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 215200392403

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