Best of the Week
of March 3, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 3, 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:

I'm an African-American female who attends Stevenson High School in Livonia, Mich. I have noticed that stereotypes are very strong here. I am diverse and listen to everything from N'Sync to Eve, Godsmack to LeeAnn Rimes and Mariah Carey. I wear Abercrombie and American Eagle, date all races, my name is 'Jodie' and I talk properly. Often kids respond to me by saying 'that's weird' when I don't fit their stereotype of black people. Why are they so unworldly and don't know the difference between something factual and stereotypical when it comes to race? I feel like a foreigner in my own neighborhood. People should grow up and accept others as they come, not as a whole.

POSTED 3/2/2002

Jodie, Livonia, MI, United States, <GlassMountain02@yahoo.com>, 17, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Student and retail, High School Diploma, Upper class, Mesg ID 312002105904


Responses:
I completly understand where you're coming from. I'm a young black woman who lived in the suburbs all my life. There weren't very many black people in my neighborhood or at the schools I attended, and as a result, most of my friends were white. I would try to make friends with the few black kids who went to my school, but they didn't like me because I didn't 'act black enough' for them. I don't speak ebonics and really don't like rap music. All my white friends listened to rock and so did I, and I still do. I know it gets really irritating having to put up with people's ignorant comments regarding your taste in music and the fact that you are educated and that it shows when you speak. Just keep being you. Wear the clothes you want to wear, listen to whatever music you like and don't worry about what anyone else has to say about it. There's nothing wrong with you.

POSTED 3/7/2002

Renee, Eastpointe, MI, United States, 23, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, clerical, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 32200211346


Don't sweat it. The problem is that most kids in high school don't tend to think with their own minds, but with the thoughts that have been supplied to them, either by their families, friends or television/movies. When something they see doesn't quite fit the mold that they expect it to, they're surprised. I think your diversity is a great thing. When I was going to high school in Tampa, the kids thought I was strange for listening to A Tribe Called Quest, then switching CDs to listen to The Beatles or John Coltrane. Now I talk to my old friends and see that they're beginning to discover the wide range of tastes that I enjoyed at a much younger age. I think the generation coming up now (people from 10-16) will be the ones who will really find themselves part of a melting pot. Until now, the supposed 'melting pot' that is America has really been more of a tossed salad. Sure, there's a number of different things thrown in, but they don't quite blend. There are more young people like yourself who I know of than there were when I was younger. Keep doing what you're doing, and don't change yourself to alter someone's reaction to you. Keep 'em on their toes!

POSTED 3/7/2002

Sam F., Orlando, FL, United States, <eyeself@crosswinds.net>, 22, Male, White/Caucasian, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 33200210539


I admire your courage and individuality. A few years ago, I taught a journalism workshop for minority high school students. I knew young African-American students who spoke grammatical English, worked hard and had every reason to expect to be successful one day. And yet the things they were telling me were appalling. They told me that other black kids accused them of 'acting white,' as if working hard and being responsible were a white thing, and the opposite was black. You just keep being yourself. The whole world will hear from you one day.

POSTED 3/7/2002

Kenneth, Milwaukee, WI, United States, 47, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, writer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 33200211548


You're right, it would be great if people would accept each other as individuals, no matter what. But guess what? It'll never happen in our lifetimes. The best thing you can do is accept yourself for the unique and multi-dimensional person you are and pay no attention to the boneheads who criticize you or question your choices. By the way, I like James Brown, John Williams and Willie Nelson, I'm learning Esperanto, and I just got through brewing myself a nice pot of chai.

POSTED 3/7/2002

E.D., Kansas City, MO, United States, 45, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 33200264545


You answered your own question. You don't fit the stereotype. You obviously are a bright, intelligent person who does her own thinking, while most of your friends and classmates are still immature enough to let TV and others do their thinking for them. You like the music you like regardless of the gender or race of the musician. This shows a level of intelligence and maturity some people never reach. Quit worrying about the others and just continue to be you. I know this is hard to do in high school and you will find that this attitude is also common outside of school in the 'adult' world. The best you can do is to keep on being yourself. You sound like a great person. Don't let the idiots change you.

POSTED 3/7/2002

Deb, Chicago, IL, United States, 49, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 34200290129

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Question:

To lesbians: What makes you want to be with another woman? How does it feel when you realize you are a lesbian? Do you feel comfortable telling other people? What do you look for when you try and find a woman?

POSTED 3/2/2002

Alexandra, Miami, FL, United States, <Metich14@aol.com>, 20, Female, Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 227200235716


Responses:
Do you know how passionate and loving and intense and emotional a woman can be? It is just those things that make it so wonderful to be with another woman. However, it is just those same things that make it so difficult for two women to be together, too. Still, the good so outweighs the bad; at least for me it does. As far as how if feels when you realize you are a lesbian, it is kind of like a breath of air that you have been struggling to get for a long time and then you finally get it - the relief you feel. That sense of knowing where you belong and who you are is really hard to explain. I don't have a problem with who I am or letting other people know I'm a lesbian; however, I do not feel that I need to flaunt it around other people. I agree that heterosexuals don't feel like their sexuality defines them, and it should not be a defining characteristic of gays and lesbians - it is not one of mine. I don't walk up to people and say, 'Hi I am Tina and I am a lesbian' - if they ask me, I tell them. I don't look for anything in a woman, really. I don't go out and 'try to find a woman.' To me, it is not about 'looking' for something or someone, it is about making a connection between two souls. When you feel it, you know, just like in a straight relationship.

POSTED 3/7/2002

Tina M., Tulsa, OK, United States, 32, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Business Owner, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 332002122458


You ask some very hard questions. I don't know what makes me want to be with another woman. I just know it is right for me. When you first realize you are gay, it can be a very scary thing, but at the same time it is very liberating because you can stop living a lie. Whether you come out to other people or just to yourself, it is as if a weight is removed. I don't generally tell people, they pretty well guess, but in any case, no one's sleeping arrangements are anyone else's business. I don't see where it matters. I don't personally look for other women, as I have been in a relationship for 15 years. Someone else will have to answer that one for you.

POSTED 3/7/2002

Deb, Chicago, IL, United States, 49, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 34200284030

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Question:

Why do black folks riot when they don't get their way?

POSTED 2/19/2002

Dan C., Omaha, NE, United States, Male, Mesg ID 216200285225


Responses:
I think that is a very narrow-minded question. You can't generalize and say that 'black folks riot when they don't get their way.' I am a senior at a Big Ten University and have experienced firsthand two riots in the four years I have been here, and believe me, the students were neither black nor rioting for any specific reason.They were rioting just to riot. The riots you are probably referring to were a result of what they believed to be an injustice (i.e. Rodney King's assaulters not being found guilty). Also, what many people tend not to know is that there was a very large proportion of the Latino community involved in those riots. So in short, you could also ask the same questions about whites, given the recent riots on various college campuses such as Colorado University, Iowa State, Penn State, the universities of Wisconsin at Whitewater and Oshkosh, Southern Illinois University, the University of Delaware, Michigan State, Washington State, Plymouth State, the University of Akron and the University of New Hampshire, and Woodstock '99. And the reasons for these riots? Usually from the results of a football game or an enforcement of underage drinking. On the other hand, the people of Cincinnati were angered because of 15 black men shot and killed by police since 1995. It's just something to think about.

POSTED 2/25/2002

Brandess, E. Lansing, MI, United States, 21, Female, Black/African American, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 225200224429


Haven't you been watching the news in the Middle East? Haven't you seen all the soccer riots in Europe, going back as long as I can remember? Haven't you see the news of the white Argentinians rioting? OK, maybe you don't watch international news. How about all the white Cubans who rioted after Elian Gonzales was given back to his father? How about all the old newsreels of white Southerners who rioted to keep blacks from integrating? Are you a sports fan? Maybe you don't notice that sports fans of all backgrounds tend to riot after championships, Super Bowls and so on. Dr. King said that a riot is the crying out of the unheard. Often that's true, though the sports riots mostly seem like drunken fools getting rowdy and stupid. But rioters come in all backgrounds. During the Los Angeles riots in 1992, even foreign tourists got arrested for looting. A better question would be why you have such a selective memory.

POSTED 3/2/2002

A.C.C., Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Mesg ID 2202002123924


Which 'black people' are you talking about? Some people who are black riot. I don't riot, and I'm black. Couldn't I just as easily ask the question, 'Why do whites get an almost orgasmic pleasure from burning crosses on black people's lawns?' Both your posted query and my rhetorical query are just the same.

POSTED 3/2/2002

Me, na, SD, United States, Black/African American, Mesg ID 228200223131


First, black folks are not the only ones to riot. Riots are the product of frustrations with institutions in any given society. So, if what you feel you are entitled to as a citizen is not being honored over a period of time (such as quality schools, equal chances in the economy, fair representation in politics and the media, fair treatment by law enforcement) that frustration can boil over into a riot. riots seem like such a 'black thing' in the United States because over the past 40 or so years, blacks have been the most vocal group when speaking about social injustice and inequity. Dr. King's speech does not start out by talking about his 'dream.' He talks about cashing in the promissory note of equality and justice issued by the government. For blacks, politically, economically and socially, there remains a great divide (and for other people of color). To use Los Angeles as an example, a major reason for that riot in the early '90s is not because they did not get what they want, but that four white police men were found innocent of brutally beating a black man, which was caught on film. Blacks in Los Angeles have been indicting the police on brutality and profiling since before the '60s, and that trial proved that no one cared about their situation. So rioting is the result of frustration, and if your 'group' has consistently been marginalized or silenced without much return, what do you think your 'group' would do?

POSTED 3/2/2002

Joseph, Lansing, MI, United States, 31, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, grad student instructor, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 221200260042


People of all races riot when they are oppressed. The French rioted under King Louis when the masses were tired of being hungry all the time. They call it the French Revolution. The Boston Tea Party was a riot wherein colonial white Americans rioted against imperial Britain's taxes on tea. To this day there have to be riot police at soccer games in Europe, where mobs wait in the crowds to blow their stacks over a referee's decision. There have been riots in China, Asia and the Middle East; therefore, anywhere people are oppressed, they will rise up.

POSTED 3/2/2002

Missjohn316, Washington, DC, United States, 29, Female, Christian, Afro-Caribbean, Straight, Administrative Assistant, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 2212002112143


Probably for the same reason that any large group of people riot. All you need is a large crowd, some type of tension and a trigger. Take the recent riot in Salt Lake City after the Olympics, for example. You had a large group of people, the tension was that the party was going to end. And the trigger was one idiot who threw a bottle at a cop. The cop immediately goes into defense mode. Another bottle is thrown, cops go into 'stop this now, or someone is going to get hurt' mode, which then makes the mob get defensive, and you know the rest. A large factor there was alcohol. But mob mentality can affect any large group of sober people as well. If I am not mistaken, an overwhelming majority of those involved in Salt Lake were 'white,' or hadn't you noticed? If that isn't enough proof, there was a college out West, I believe in Colorado a few years back, that had a very big riot (cars flipped, large fires set) and the students were again predominantly white. Hmmmm, maybe the guy who started it was black?

POSTED 3/2/2002

Dave, Long Island, NY, United States, 33, Male, Spiritual - Non Traditional, White/Caucasian, Straight, Technical Manager, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 226200280141


I've never had to question why blacks riot. What has baffled me is why were there riots at Woodstock '99? More than $1 million in property damage and a dozen reported rapes because white boys can't control their emotions or actions when they're listening to their pseudo-hip-hop metal fusion? Because white parents are lazy and uninvolved and refuse to instill objective values in their children, either because they have a perverse desire to be 'liked' by them or that it's simply too much trouble to parent a child now that nannies are taboo? Why the riot every time there's a meeting of more than two nations like Seattle and stuff like that? Because the fattened piglets of well-to-do whites are so profoundly bored with living in a coccoon of privilege, wealth and security that we allow them to play at some teasets-and-teddybears communist revolution at the expense of nearly everybody else? Why are L.A. and Cincinnati considered 'ape parties'?

POSTED 3/2/2002

Paris, St. Paul, MN, United States, 35, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 2262002110032


I don't know ... why do white folks riot when their team loses (or wins)?

POSTED 3/2/2002

E.D., Kansas City, MO, United States, 45, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 227200243534

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Question:

If you've grown up in luxury (multi-millionaire family) and enjoyed the finer things in life all your life, would you work as, say, a waitress or security guard if misfortune hit and your family found itself broke? I'm not talking about people like struggling musicians or actors who have an unexpected hit or two and are suddenly rolling in dough, then lose it all in a wild lifestyle. I'm talking about people who come from families who have been rich for generations. How low would you go if the money disappeared?

POSTED 3/2/2002

missjohn316, Washington, DC, United States, 29, Female, Christian, Afro-Caribbean, Straight, administrative assistant, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 2272002103933

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Question:

What are people in France like? What kind of customs and courtesies are there in France, such as greetings, visiting, eating, gestures, personal appearance, group meetings, traveling and communicating interpersonally?

POSTED 3/2/2002

Heather H., W. Jefferson, NC, United States, <HAH_2000_18@yahoo.com>, 19, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Full-time student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 228200271828

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Question:

If non-whites (especially blacks) are seen as 'inferior,' then why do so many white people risk melanoma cancer just for the sake of getting dark? Does darkening your skin mean that you're not satisfied with your natural coloring? Why not be proud of the skin you were born in? Thanks for any insight you can give me.

POSTED 3/2/2002

J.B., Louisville, KY, United States, Female, Black/African American, Nurse, Mesg ID 32200254037

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