Best of theWeek
of March 9, 2003

Best of WeekArchivesArchives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchangeseither begun or advanced during the week of March 9, 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 of 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.  
 First-time users should first make a quick stopat Y?'s guidelines pages for asking andanswering questions.

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"Why Do White People SmellLike Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"


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Read the Associated Press storyon "Wet Dogs"

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Question:

I worked with a lot of African-American women at a fast-food job whenI was 16. I was given a warning by my boss for flipping my hair because theAfrican-American women said it was 'a prejudiced action.' They wouldn't explainto me why. To African-American women: If you think a white woman who flipsher hair is prejudiced, why do you feel that way?
POSTED 3/11/2003
Mary, Winston-Salem, NC, United States, 23, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight,2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 311200322742

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Question:

I cannot understand how anybody in his or her right mind can actuallylike rap or hip-hop 'music.' For one thing, music entails melody and beauty,which both forms lack. The only way I can understand the existence of rapand hip-hop is as political cry, social discussion, racial identification,etc., and as such, I can see why these forms originated. However, most rapand hip-hop today have nothing to do with discussing social issues, as theymay have in the beginning. My question is, how many people today actuallyenjoy rap and hip-hop - as opposed to convincing themselves that they enjoyit, because they want to fit some image.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Idearte, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 36, Male, Humanist, Hispanic/Latino(may be any race), Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 311200335839

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Question:

I've had some Japanese penpals, and a weird thing has happened: they answermy emails and say they'd like to start writing emails with me and everythingseems to be fine. But then, after two or three emails, they just stop writingto me. I've been as polite as possible, trying to avoid too-personal questions,and still this happens every time. I cannot understand what I'm doing wrong.I'm interested in Japan and its culture, and I'd like to have Japanese friends,but it seems to be awfully hard to keep one. I've read that this thing hashappened to lots of people. Can someone tell me why the Japanese seem tostop writing after a couple of emails? Or is it just me being too boring?
POSTED 3/3/2003
Ella, Kotka, NA, Finland, 19, Female, White/Caucasian, Student, High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 322003104714


Responses:
I'm Asian, and I've been doing the same thing to others as your Japanesefriend has. But along the way, I've learned many new things about makingfriends who are distant, physically and mentally. Because these are penpals,in other words, acquaintances, they don't consider you a close friend yet,and writing is probably taking up their time. Don't blame your friends; forall we know they could be doing other stuff that interests them more thanyour e-mails. If you really want to exchange conversation, don't get upset;send e-mail every week and tell him or her about your week or your day inschool. Don't get frustrated if they don't respond sooner than you expected.I'll guarantee they will respond, and they'll be glad you wrote those lettersjust for them.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Anonymous, Arlington, MA, United States, 15, Male, Atheist, Asian, Straight,Student, Less than High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 37200363527

The way I see it, when people act rudely like this, there's probably somethingwrong with them, not with you. Where, exactly, have you read that this happensto a lot of people? I doubt all the Japanese people one day got togetherand decided to lead pen pals on and then suddenly stop writing to them outof nowhere. You're probably getting teen penpals, and as we all know, a lotof us teens tend to get bored with things quickly. I also see that you triedto be very polite with them. In my opinion, you should just try to be yourself.People will most likely respond better to you when you are sincere and honestand reveal yourself the way you truly are.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Andromeda, Washington, DC, United States, <Polar_Andromeda@hotmail.com>,17, Female, Agnostic, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Straight, Student,Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 3102003122530

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Question:

Why do blacks barbecue in the front yard, even when they have a backyard? Perhaps this is a Southern thing for blacks, but I'm curious.
POSTED 3/3/2003
Len, St. Petersburg, FL, United States, 55, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight,Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 32200322708


Responses:
I've always wondered the opposite: why do whites insist on doing everythingin the back yard, when no one else does? It's not just blacks who barbecuein the front, it's also Latinos. We also tend to hang out in the front, havea beer in the front, even start a campfire in the front when it's cold andgenerally hang out in the front far more than whites do, particularly whitesin the suburbs. It seems to me that whites, especially middle and upper classones, are far too concerned with having their front yards be solely for show.(An older set of posts in Y? Forum about whites and their obession with havingperfectly manicured green lawns comes to mind.) They also seem to worry fartoo much about what the neighbors might think of them drinking beer or leavingashes in the front yard. (And those ridiculous Draconian neighborhood associationordinances back up with legal force that 'Pleasantville' kind of homogenousconformity.) It does also seem class related, because I've seen working classwhites, especially country boys, not care so much about appearances. So youtell me: why are whites such tightasses about their front lawns? Why do manyof you (not necessarily you personally) react with horror at the sight ofpeople drinking beer and barbecuing, even calling the cops sometimes?
POSTED 3/3/2003
A.C.C., Phoenix, AZ, United States, 36, Male, Mexican and American Indian,Teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 33200343806

I grew up in an impoverished African-American community where it was difficultto gain attention. It's not like you can just go out and grab a new ridethat everyone gawks at, or have the best front lawn in town ... speakingof which, I moved to a suburban neighborhood where the whole lawn thing istrue, and you know what the kicker is? Almost all of them pay for a landscapingcompany to do it. The pride is there, but who deserves the credit? Anyway,there were two main ways to go about getting notoriety: 1) get a wicked jumpshot (as cube said), 2) bang and deal (not a good option) or 3) show offyour cooking expertise ... none of which costs a lot of dough, but, if youdon't have game, and don't want to be a statistic, you choose option No.3. I'm white and can honestly say we don't know the first thing about barbecuing.I'm sorry to say that a lot of you will never know what you're missing.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Craig, Albany, NY, United States, 26, Male, White/Caucasian, grad student,Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 332003105912

I didn't know this was such a big deal. I've seen all sorts of people dothis, especially whites in trailor parks (with what front yards they do have).For you to single out black people (as if all blacks barbecue in their frontyard) makes me wonder if you have alternative motives. I find questions likethese amusing because instead of being worried about important matters, peopleare asking things that have no relevance to the real world.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Alex, Houston, TX, United States, <green_outlaw@hotmail.com>, 19, Female,2 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 34200323442

Interesting. I know one or two blacks, and I have never noticed this unlessthey did not really have a back yard. Of course, I grew up in the suburbs.Maybe this is prevalent in rural areas. If so, it's not in the area thatmy family is from, since I spent many summers at my uncle's house in a veryrural area. Oh, yes, I am black.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Wayne, Orange, NJ, United States, 43, Male, Black/African American, Straight,marketing, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 352003102612

It's definitely a class thing. Here in Venezuela, where we are all Latino(black, brown or white), you notice more privacy among the higher classesand more openness among the lower. Anyway, the higher up you go here in class,the whiter it gets, just like in the United States. So you see the upper-classneigborhood people doing things in their back yards, never in front. It'snot about the lawn, it's about not having the whole neighborhood watchingyou eat and drink beer. The opposite happens in the barrios (slums), wherepeople hang out in front, doors open, load music playing, so everyone cansee. To me, 'barrio' style is more fun, but not appropriate in a classy neighborhood.Now, I'm sure that if a lower-class black family makes it big and moves toan upper-class white neighborhood, they'll have their barbecues in the backlike everybody else.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 33, Male, Hispanic/Latino (may be anyrace), Lawyer/Educator, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 362003122812

In urban settings, white people traditionally hung out in the front becausethe back either didn't exist or wasn't pleasant. People would sit in frontand visit with neighbors and passersby. In the suburbs, things are much morecar-oriented: people get into their cars and drive away without so much asseeing, let alone visiting with, their neighbors. The front yard becomesstrictly ornamental. White people are more suburbanized than others, butthat's changing. I know plenty of non-whites who would never dream of partyingin the front. When I lived in a condo that was townhouse style, we all satout front in the evenings. It was a small cluster of urban-style dwellingsin a suburb. We did barbecue in back, but that's because there was more roomthere. We would never have built a campfire in the front or back yard, though.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, 54, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian,Straight, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 36200364523

I think that is just a low-class thing. Rednecks and Latinos do the same,showing a lack of respect toward their neighbors and community, due to theloud noise and public consumption of alcohol.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Rick, Oakland, CA, United States, 41, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight,Management, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 372003122537

I've never owned a barbecue, but I would think that it would be more appropriateto do such things in the privacy of your back yard rather than the frontyard and turn the neighborhood into a camping site. I think this is morea class thing, because my middle-class black friends are constantly complainingabout inappropriate and uncouth things they see people do - hanging out onthe stoop and drinking beer being one of these. I hardly think being concernedabout the overall appearance of the neighborhood would constitute being a'tight-ass.' I have a Dominican friend who refuses to let his two kids playin front of the house for fear of making the neighborhood look bad and havinghis home depreciate in value.
POSTED 3/10/2003
Jay, New York, NY, United States, Male, Mesg ID 3102003124549

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Question:

I'm dating a guy who is having trouble deciding between me and hisfreedom. However, he still wants all the physicality without the commitment,and I don't do "friends with benefits." I wish I knew what he was thinking.He says he loves me and that I am the only girl he wants to date, and thatthe title "girlfriend" is not important. Why won't he just give me the titleif he doesn't plan on seeing anyone else? What should I do?
POSTED 3/3/2003
Melissa, Littleton, CO, United States, 20, Female, White/Caucasian, Student,2 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 332003124539


Responses:
Find another guy - this one's not ready for a commitment. Why is he sayinghe doesn't want to use the title 'girlfriend' but also doesn't want to dateanyone but you? Because he's just telling you what you want to hear, withoutcompletely committing so he can do whatever he wants. Be careful, you areboth too young for a serious commitment, but you deserve the respect of amonogomous relationship. Stick to your guns. Wait for the right guy who'swilling to commit to you.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Susan, Thousand Oaks, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 34200371421

You give the key to your problem in your subject line. He's a boy; he's probablyimmature, and he's wasting your time. I would give him the boot. If he wantsintimacy without commitment, he will probably break your heart eventually.I dated a man like that several years ago when I was single. He was emotionallydetached from me and didn't express feelings of love whatsoever. I realizedI was lonelier with him than without him and moved on. Now I am happily marriedto a wonderful man who cherishes me, respects me and is totally committedto me. You are really young, so you shouldn't be in a rush to find a husband.However, don't stick around someone like this boy, who obviously does notrespect you.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Annie, Lawrenceville, GA, United States, 51, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian,Straight, Editor, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 35200312624

Ultimately, you'll have to ask him these questions. No Y? Forum reader canaccurately tell you what's going on inside his head. While each of us mightbe able to give you our experience with stereotypical 21-year-old guys, thefact is, everyone's different. The important thing is that if you can't geta straight answer from him, or you're unsatisfied with whatever answer hegives you, you should move on - for your own happiness.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Jessica, Huntsville, TX, United States, 23, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian,Bisexual, Graduate Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID35200352741

I was seeing a guy who wouldn't give me the title 'girlfriend.' He said labelsweren't important to him. I was the only person he was seeing. Although weare no longer together, it's my opinion that in his case, he didn't havea problem being committed to me, he just didn't want others - i.e. othergirls - to think he was taken. He never cheated, but I guess it was a freedomissue. I think many young men want to always seem available to the oppositesex.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Nikki, Pensacola, FL, United States, 23, Female, Middle class, Mesg ID 352003113714

Being a girlfriend is not like being married. If the relationship doesn'twork out, you can call it quits. However, it is much more of a commitmentthan just being 'friends with benefits,' because the man and the woman (hopefully)would be exclusive to one another sexually. If this guy can't be mature enoughto commit on this level, he isn't worth your time. And guys will say anythingto get in a girl's panties, which is why he wants you to believe he wantsto be exclusive to you, but not consider himself your boyfriend. He is notinterested in you enough to make the relationship more serious. It is a differentstory, however, if you can handle a relationship that's purely sexual (assome women are going for these days). But if you have deeper feelings ofromance, it is best to terminate it now, because it will complicate thingstoo much if you do the 'friends with benefits' thing.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, 22, Female, Christian, Black/AfricanAmerican, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID36200344639

It isn't unusual for someone that young not to want to commit. You may ormay not be really ready, but he feels he isn't. What you should do is recognizethat right now you want something that isn't what he wants. Then you candecide to wait, break it off or whatever. Just don't deceive yourself thathe really wants commitment but is just being coy.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, 54, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian,Straight, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 36200365542

Your attitude may be the problem. It should never be a choice between youand freedom. If you are so possessive that you will give him no freedom,then it is no surprise he doesn't want to get involved too deeply. Secondly,what on Earth are you wanting commitment for at 20? Enjoy life, find a fewMr. Wrongs and get some experience behind you so you know what you want.If you are mentioning commitment to a 21-year-old man, then if he is nota complete wimp, he will run a mile. I don't mean this to be rude, but anyman who wants commitment at 21 is not worth getting involved with. I noticethat when I go away with my mates, it is always the ones who got settledearly who are playing around. Those of us who got it out of our system andmarried later are boring, I guess, but we can't be bothered to play around.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Bert, London, NA, United Kingdom, 31, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 37200342227

It seems to me he's not ready to give up his player days. If I were you,and you are really serious about the relationship, give him an ultimatum.
POSTED 3/11/2003
Fatima, Twinsburg, OH, United States, 24, Female, Pentecostal, Black/AfricanAmerican, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 37200323433

Be cool. Twenty-one is pretty young to commit in any permanent sense. Maybehe sees 'girlfriend' as equal to 'wife.' Hold your ground. After all, heis asking you to commit when he pressures you for sex. Maybe you could askhim, 'Why does it matter that I won't go all the way, when I don't want todate anyone else?' If things don't improve, consider asking him whether youtwo should decide to date others, since this relationship doesn't seem tobe going anywhere. But remember that this may be the kiss-off, and don'ttry it unless you are ready for that.
POSTED 3/11/2003
G. P., Whitewater, WI, United States, 74, Male, Straight, retired professor, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 38200383426

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