Best of the Week
of Feb. 28, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Feb. 28, 1999, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. We encourage you 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

Question Code Key:

A=Age

GD=General Diversity

RE=Religion

C=Class

G=Geography

SE=Sensitive Matters

D=Disabilities

O=Occupation

SO=Sexual Orientation

GE=Gender

R=Race/Ethnicity

THE QUESTION:
D35: Why do people with Down Syndrome look the same?
POSTED MARCH 4, 1999
Ashley L., 14, female <
EmeraldAsh@aol.com>, Houston, TX

ANSWER 1:
As the mother of a 14-year-old with Down Syyndrome, I can tell you that the reason people with it have typical characteristics is that they have a extra No. 21 chromosome (thus the name trisomy 21). For reasons not completely understood ,every person with this extra chromosome will have some or all characteristic symptoms associated with Down Syndrome. This is why many people with down Syndrome have a small, flat face, Asian-appearing eyes and small ears, and are small in stature. Besides the physical characteristics,many people with this syndrome suffer from heart defects, impaired hearing,and impaired intellectual development. Contrary to the popluar belief of our ancestors, people with Down Syndrome are not related to each other anymore than any two people on the street, and they are not ancestors of people from Mongolia, which was the belief long ago, thus the outdated term "Mongoloid."
POSTED MARCH 5, 1999
Jenny <
jenny.houghton@newhouse.com>, female, Arlington, VA

FURTHER NOTICE:
All people with Down's Syndrome do notl ook exacly alike. They do share some of the facial and physical characteristics of that condition. Since Down's Syndrome is caused by a chromosomal abnormality, the disease affects them not only mentally, but changes the life expanctency because of many other common illness that a person with Down's Syndrome is more likely to have like kidney failure, or heart disease. I'm guessing that fear of the unknown is the reason you asked this question. But everytime I look at my little brother, all I see is beauty and love.
POSTED MARCH 5, 1999
Julia Co., 19 <
julia.connell@marymount.edu>, Arlington , VA

 

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Persons with Down's Syndrome do not look alike - one can differentiate between two different persons with the syndrome. However, people with Down's do have certain characteristics common to their condition that makes it obvious they have Down's. Down's is caused by having an extra chromosome 21 (genotype) and the expression of the extra genetic material manifests itself as several noticable characteristics (phenotype: 1) prominent eyelid folds - hence "mongolism" 2) low set ears 3) decreased intelligence - severity very variable 4) simian crease - continuous crease across palm 5) heart defects - variable severity 6) decreased coordination Though Dwon's may be difficult to diagnose at birth, these and other traits become more prominent as the baby grows older. This goes to show that much of what we are is the product of our genes - good or bad.
POSTED MARCH 5, 1999
Gaz, Baltimore, MD
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THE QUESTION:
GE121: Who has an easier lifestyle: Guys or girls?
POSTED FEB. 23, 1999
Cathy, female

ANSWER 1:
It depends on how you look at it. Women tend to give and receive more emotional support, live longer and can bear children. However, women also face more discrimination, earn less money than men (on average) and are more likely to be victims of sexual assault and eating disorders. Men are physically stronger, hold most powerful positions in the world,and are naturally more aggressive. While women try to live up to certain standards of beauty and taking care of others, men feel the "boys don't cry" pressure of being pillars of strength and being far more hesitant to express their emotions. By the way, while I am fairly sure all of this is generally accurate, it's pretty much what the media has fed me for 21 years ... although my observations support everything above as well.
POSTED MARCH 4, 1999
S.R., white female, 21, Austin , TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
Absolutely beyond any debate, guys have it easier. Less focus on physical appearance. Less confusion over adult roles (breadwinner). Simpler, cheaper clothes that stay in style for long periods of time. No menstrual cycle. No labor pains. No menopause. No breastfeeding at 3 a.m. Less fear for physical safety. No changing your name. Greater physical strength. No leg shaving. No armpit shaving. More money for the same work. Able to eat more calories without gaining weight. Gray hair is a sign of distinction. Can urinate standing up.
POSTED MARCH 4, 1999
B. Hale, Mr. got it so easy, male <
halehart@aol.com>, Hartford , CT

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I have never felt the pressure to conform, be popular or be part of a clique, which I'm sure is a huge weight on the shoulders of some girls. Therefore, I believe it is worse to be a guy. It seems to me that in male society, they keep at least one guy in the group to be the butt of jokes and humiliated. This one guy gives the rest of the guys security and the opportunity to feel superior to someone. That is a cruel way to grow up. Addionally, boys and men may have more fun and freedom, but they also have more expectations laid on them. If I don't want to go out in the cold, my husband will shovel the driveway or start my car because it's expected for a male to do that for females. Men are expected to give up their lives if it comes to that, i.e. if they're present at a bank robbery or around when there's a rampaging lion. Women expect men to do that for them, and they do, to some extent. It amazes me.
POSTED MARCH 4, 1999
Lynda, 29, white female, CT
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THE QUESTION:
R623: To African Americans: What is a "stepshow?"
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
Jarrett B., white male, 38 <
jburch@mindspring.com>, Augusta , GA
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THE QUESTION:
G73: I'm reading Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. Are white Southerners really still hung up on the Civil War? Do some Southerners still perceive the South as being occupied by the Federal government?
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
B. Hale, Yankee <
halehart@aol.com>, Hartford, CT
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THE QUESTION:
R621: To people who of mixed-race or multiplce heritage: How do you feel about being classified as one race or another? Do you identify with one race more than the other? Does that depend on which parent's race you more closely resemble? Are you ever angry with your parents for not "sticking to their own"?
POSTED MARCH 1, 1999
Roger T., male, 40-plus , Asian/Caucasian <
roger.thomas@home.com>, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

ANSWER 1:
I think being mixed race mkes you realize just how arbitrary and foolish racial classification is. I have Mexican, American Indian and Anglo ancestry. Generally, if I'm clean-shaven, people think I'm Indian, but if I let a beard grow, I'm seen as Mexican. But some Latinos will see me as "white" because my Spanish is weak, even though I'm as dark as Jimmy Smits. I call myself both Mexican and Indian, but my sister, who came out so light that whites often unwittingly make racist jokes around her, will always mention our Irishness. Appearance certainly plays a part in how you identify yourself. I think any resentment for "not sticking to your own" is crazy and flat out racist ugliness. Indians have been mixing since Cortez. It is opposed to every principle of traditional spiritual belief to be racist. So-called "race mixing" is not a problem; it is one of several solutions to the United States' problems with "race."
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian, San Antonio , TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
I am a multi-racial female (my mother was Swedish American and my father half Mexican American half African American). I embrace all of the cultural and racial richness that flows in my veins. I proudly volunteer for a couple of African-American organizations, but would also feel very comfortable to take part in a Hispanic organization as well. For generations, my family has looked beyond color, physical challenges, looks, religion, etc. I am a proud American rich with ethnic heritage and cultural experiences that I cherish.
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
Kathy, multi-racial, 40-plus, female, Saginaw , MI
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THE QUESTION:
A5: Why is it that older men seem to wear their pants higher on the hips than the rest of the population? Does this have to do with physical changes to the body in old age, or some fad that was around when they were younger?
POSTED MARCH 21, 1998
Mike, 26, Howell, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
Many of us shrink as we get older. It's not the bottom half that shrinks (our legs don't get any shorter), but rather the top half. As our spine loses moisture and osteoporosis causes the back to curve over, the distance from the waist to the head gets shorter. So when it appears that a man is wearing his pants higher and higher up toward, what may really be happening is that his shoulders are moving lower and lower down toward his waist. This curvature of the back can put pressure on the guts, pushing them outward, contributing even further to the "spare tire" older men can get, as well as the attempt to pull the pants above the natural waist.
POSTED MARCH 1, 1999
Judith G. , female, New York , NY
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THE QUESTION:
GE123: Why do women expect men to take care of them? Aren't women of all races equally capable of existing without a "Sugar Daddy"?
POSTED FEB. 28, 1999
Enlightened Female, San Marcos, Ca

ANSWER 1:
Women of all races are capable of existing without a "Sugar Daddy," but I do not understand where race comes into this question. I think a lot of women are trying to be superwomen and enlightened at the expense of their well-being. I do not advocate a return to the days when we were discriminated against for being women and had few choices to make, but I am not going to try to "do it all" just to prove my superiority as a female. If a woman has a mate who wants to "take care of her," what is wrong with that choice for her?
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
Belinda, 51, white female, Orlando, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
Societal pressures, norms and mores of the here-and-now emphasize from a young age how important it is to achieve and maintain a perfect figure, perfect hair, perfect polished skin, etc, all in an attempt to snag a man. Then, once you've got him, you can kick those heels off and let him take care of you. Outmoded and unlikely? Yup. Going away any time soon? Nope. Some women are raised to believe the fairy tale, but few meet Prince Charming. It's a product of moms who say "You aren't leaving the house without your hair done, are you?" and dads who want their little girl to be protected and cared for, which is very sweet and well-meaning but doesn't necessarily prepare her to be a grown woman buying her own home and taking care of herself. Those girls who go to college to get their "MRS Degree" are woefully unprepared for the bills and the taxman when husband No. 1 hits the road.
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
Kat, single white female with no Sugar Daddy, thank you very much, Birmingham , AL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Not all women look for a man to take care of them. My husband died more than 15 years ago. I did not go on a manhunt to replace him, even though I had friends who tried to convince me that my sons really needed a father. Although I did have to postpone my education until my sons were older, I was able to provide the essentials for them. We did not live in a posh mansion or eat caviar, but they never went hungry and always had a roof over their heads. I did not, and still do not, look for a man to "take care" of me. I am now back in college, pursuing my Phd. in psychology. If I met someone I could click with, so be it. I have male friends who volunteer to do the handywork around the house that I can't do (and there's not much that I can't handle) but they know I'm not looking for a Sugar Daddy.
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
Angie W., female, 42, University of Kansas <
ajwalden@falcon.ukans.edu.com>, Lawrence , KS

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
We must live on different planets. Once upon a time, there was something we now call a division of labor, which had to do with which jobs members of each gender were expected to do. The tradition has been rather fractured in recent years, and left all kinds of various different arrangements in its wake. At my home ... well, I bought the house, and until very recently contributed quite a bit more to the household account than my husband (we're now contributing equal amounts). I'm the one doing investing, and I'm also the one who tends to have a lot more money accessible at any given time, which means I have more of a say in large financial decisions. I'm also the one who does almost all of the cooking, and rather more than my share of the rest of the housework. (OK, cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, and I'm a bit of a neat freak.) This domestic situation is shared by most of the young women I know. I like to think we are stumbling closer to some kind of equity, but it isn't quick, and it isn't easy.
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
Catherine H., female <
tylik@eskimo.com>, Woodinville , WA
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THE QUESTION:
R619: I am a 21-year-old Asian Indian living in America. As you all know, the Indian population is increasing in America because of the demand for computer specialists. I read in newspapers that some Americans are attacking Indians in states like New Jersey and Connecticut. What's the reason? Don't immigrants have a right to be successful? How long will this feeling of "foreigners are taking our jobs" continue?
POSTED FEB. 28, 1999
Raghu, 21<
wayne19@hotmail.com>, Tallahassee, FL

ANSWER 1:
When I was in college studying for my degree in electrical engineering, the students from that region of the world had an elaborate cheating system. As a result, many incompetent people received degrees. This is what I have against Asian Indians moving into this country and taking the available jobs.
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
White male who earned his degree, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
While I do not doubt that you might have read that in some newspaper at some point, I have to say I am suprised. I live in New Jersey, and I have not heard of any crimes committed specifically against Indian immigrants. I am not saying they did not happen, but they have not been reported in the papers in my area (which cover north and central New Jersey), nor have any such crimes been covered on the news. This would suggest to me that crimes against Indian immigrants are just as likely as crimes against any other group, or there is a deliberate attempt to take attention away from those incidents. But for my part, I know of a number of Indian immigrants working in my area, and none of them have ever had a problem.
POSTED MARCH 3, 1999
John K., 25 <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford, NJ
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THE QUESTION:
R580: Why is it that if a black person says that they only want to date black people, they are showing racial pride, but if a white person says they only want to date white people, they are racist?
POSTED JAN. 14, 1999
Hayley, 28, white, straight, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE:
When white people date only people who share their interests and background, both ethnic and class-based, they are being ethno-centered and possibly snobbish, but not necessarily racist. When white people have a preconceived notion that no black person can possibly be worthy of marriage, that's racist. One reason I primarily date black men is that I don't have to explain certain things to them about complexion, history, oppression, hair ... it's a long list. Also, I don't have to educate them about certain realities of racism that our children will face, just by virtue of living in the United States. It's not that I perceive black men as "superior." I just assume they have a better understanding of how history has shaped me, and that's part of what I want in a mate. Someday, a white man may come along whom I would marry. I haven't ruled it out. But I think he would have a harder time bridging the "understanding" gap that I consider important in a mate.

Some black people have very race-related reasons for their views against interracial marriage. Some still feel very violated by the continued racism in society and see whites as "the enemy," either by their actions, or simply by their position of privilege (this position of privilege isn't always obvious to white people). Given the history of our country and the prevalent attitudes toward black people, which have only really started changing in the last 30 years, I have difficulty calling this "racist," as in "one race is superior to another."
POSTED FEB. 28, 1999
Lauren, 35, black female, Reading, MA
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THE QUESTION:
G72: What types of punishments do kids receive in different countries or cultures for misbehaving, or disobeying their parents? What are specific examples, as well as the reasoning behind these punishments, and what are some opinions on which countries have the harshest punishments? Thanks.
POSTED FEB. 25, 1999
Spanish <
Lmgause@hotmail.com>, Raleigh, NC

ANSWER 1:
I don't speak for all North American parents. We have two children, son is 13 and daughter is 6. When my son misbehaves, he loses privileges. No television, no computer, or no friends. My daughter would receive similar losses of privileges. Defiance by either one would require time out in their room for 6 or 13 minutes, respectively, or instant bed time depending on the severity of the offense. Persistent defiance would invite a well-planted spanking on the seat of the pants for the younger one. The older one would be grounded for a week or more, depending on the offense. We have expectations of our children. If these expectations are not met, they lose privileges. Defiance is a much more serious offense. Most offenses can be attributed to forgetfulness, wilful or otherwise. However, authority must be preserved if defiance is exhibited.
POSTED FEB. 28, 1999
Ronald V., 46, male, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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THE QUESTION:
R617: In my experience, it seems that many East Indians feel they are superior to the rest of the races in America. I understand that all races have prejudice, but why does it seem to be so prevalent in East Indians?
POSTED FEB. 24, 1999
J. Bilbrey, 26, white male <
slingblade@qconline.com>, Quad-Cities, IL

ANSWER 1:
I am an East Indian, and I am sure East Indians do not consider themselves superior to any race in America. Most of them consider themselves very intelligent and, sadly, think others are idiots! You are probably confusing their superiority complexes for racism.
POSTED FEB. 28, 1999
East Indian, 21, male, Tallahassee, FL
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