Best of the Week
of March, 12, 20000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 12, 2000, 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 new 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 new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.


Question:
I've noticed that most of the women in my work environment tend to talk badly about one another. They'll say things like, 'She is waaay too big to be wearing that skirt.' The guys I hang around with never say things like that about other guys. Why do girls do this to each other?
POSTED 3/15/2000
Jose, West Palm Beach, FL, United States, 22, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Graphic Design, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 311200023839
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Question:
I have a friend who lives in a quiet neighborhood where there is some rental property. About a month ago, the place next store was rented by a black family. Immediately, cars started double-parking in front of the house, honking their horns until he would come out. This happens all hours. My friend put up with it for a week, and finally went over to politely speak with him about the situation. The man listened to what he had to say about it being a quiet neighborhood and all, and having to get up and work early in the morning. When he was finished, the neighbor swore at him, insulted my friend's mother and threatened him with bodily harm. It was bad enough that my friend filed a police report, but they would do nothing without witnesses. Things have gotten worse - beer cans on the hood of his car in the morning and in the yard and such. This activity does not bode well for my friend, who owns his home. What happened to the old adage, 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.'? It would seem to me, if I moved into a neighborhood, I sure wouldn't wan't to start off by trashing it, threatening people and insulting people's mothers. Is sensitivity training available for blacks as well? We have a new upscale neighborhood here where clotheslines, fences and yardbarns are not permitted, and the people who move there abide by these rules. This keeps the neighboorhood and property values up. Is it any wonder why my friend is worried about his property value plummeting?
POSTED 3/15/2000
Tim, Cincinnati, OH, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, firefighter, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 3132000111931
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Question:
To black women: If a white guy wanted to date you, what would you say? And do you have a problem when you see white/black couples?
POSTED 3/10/2000
Chad H., Central Square, NY, United States, <polarisefi@hotmail.com>, 15, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 382000125912

Responses:
Black-white dating, for black women especially, is a very sticky subject. To the first part of the question of would I as a black woman date a white man, the answer is that I would not date a man because he was white. What I mean by this is that while I would not refuse to date a man who was white if I found him appealing, I am much more cautious when these situations arise. I have dated a few white men over the past several years, and it has been my experience that there are certain motivations for these relationships, not all of which are 'pure.' I've noticed that there are five types of white men who date black women: those who are interested because they've bought into the idea of black women being overly sexualized creatures with a carnal knowledge that white women don't possess; those who do it because they view it as 'trendy'; those who do it to try and prove that they are not racist; those who are simply more attracted to black women in general; and those who fall for a woman with little regard to skin color. The difficulty is weeding through it all and trying to figure where a man is coming from. But overall, I believe that in this life, finding someone who you click with, that you can love and who can love you in return is extremely difficult, so when you find that person you should go for it, and color shouldn't be a factor. To the second question, it doesn't bother me when I see a black man with a white woman if it seems they are together because of love, and not because of status. Often black women become upset at these relationships because of the tendency of some black men to view white women as prizes. It happens sometimes that when black men make a great deal of money, or become famous, they will become involved in relationships with white women because they view these women as part of a package of success (nice job, big car, white woman...). At the same time, the men will view black women as 'less-than' white women, which of course, inspires anger and resentment in black women. In addition, some black women view black male-white woman relatioships as cutting into the (limited) supply of successful black men, which only increases feelings of hostility.
POSTED 3/13/2000
K.N., Atlanta, GA, United States, 22, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 310200055127

This response above is a great summation of the dynamics of interracial dating. Of all the responses I have read on this site, this one really hits the heart of the subject matter. Beautifully written.
POSTED 3/15/2000
Marc, Morgantown, WV, United States, 24, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 314200010042
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Question:
I apologize in advance in case this question is crude or insensitive. It's not meant that way. Simply put, how aware are mentally retarded people of their situation? Do they realize that there are some things that are just 'beyond them,' much as I recognize my own ignorance of, for instance, trigonometry or Sanskrit? And are they troubled by it? I once knew a dear young man who was severely disabled with Down Syndrome, but he was one of the happiest and sociable people I've ever met, a joy to know. I don't think he perceived himself as 'missing out on anything.'
POSTED 3/13/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3102000103731

Responses:
There's a difference between being aware of your disability and being unhappy about it or feeling you are missing out on things. Just like a person in a wheelchair is that they can't walk, most people with mental disabilities are aware of their limits as well. There are many different types and degrees of mental disability, ranging from mild learning difficulties to severe mental retardation. Just like 'normal' people, the happiness of people with mental disabilities depends largely on their environment and the type of love, support and encouragement they receive from their family members and larger community. One of the kids in a family I grew up with is mentally retarded. Emotionally and mentally he is about 12 and will probably not develop beyond that. He has his share of frustrations, but is basically a happy person. He lives with his sister and her family, and she helps him with the things he can't do for himself. One phrase that describes people with mental disabilities well is that they understand a lot more than they can articulate.
POSTED 3/15/2000
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 313200062844
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Question:
Do young women join convents and become nuns anymore? I've only ever seen elderly nuns out and about.
POSTED 2/22/2000
Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Office Manager, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 221200052450

Responses:
I'm 25, and for as long as I can remember I wanted to join a convent. Last week I started researching different ones to see which is right for me. I'm not a religious person - I've been an atheist for a long time now - but it's something I have always wanted to do. But you are right: So far I too have seen only older women, which is something I have been a little worried about.
POSTED 3/15/2000
Jessica, Waipahu, HI, United States, 25, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, nanny, Technical School , Middle class,Mesg ID 3152000120531
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Question:
Do people think that someone who has openly made a 'positive' generalization about an ethnic group by stereotyping tends to make 'negative' generalizations about the same or other ethnic groups? For example, someone says: 'Italians are so musical. All the great bands in Europe have Italians, and when I was in Europe, the Italians were the best musicians and cooks.' Would this statement indicate that this person tends to make (but not necessarily openly express) 'negative' generalizations about Italians or other ethnic groups?
POSTED 3/13/2000
Ben N., Los Angeles, CA, United States, 24, Male, Baptist, Asian, Straight, HR Manager, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3112000114753
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Question:
Why is it that the title of the book based on the Y? web site - Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs When They Come Out Of The Rain? - is acceptable to all races, but if any other race were substituted for "White People" it would be considered a horribly racist observation?
POSTED 12/26/1999
Steve, Orlando, FL, United States, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1225199965443

Responses:
Hair, all hair, absorbs smells, odors, fragrances, etc. All hair of all life on the planet. So why the difference between African-Americans and Euro-Americans? The difference is that African Americans use various oils on their to maintain a certain socially acceptable level of sheen, shine, appearance and general health of the hair. Oil seals the hair preventing the absorption of other fragrances, smells, etc. Europeans avoid all oil in hair, and so it becomes a fragrance magnet for any fragrances that happen to be near.
POSTED 3/15/2000
K.W., Indianapolis, IN, United States, 31, Male, Christian, Black/African American, customer service, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 315200091620
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Question:
I have heard many people applaud the movie The Green Mile. The whole time I sat through it, while I appreciated the performances, I was uncomfortable. I felt it was blatantly racist. Am I the only person who feels this way? I feel like I am an island. I am white; I would like responses from other races.
POSTED 2/28/2000
Shirlee, Rochester, NY, United States, <scarlberg1@hotmail.com>, 46, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, librarian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 227200070119

Responses:
Did it grate on my ears to hear John Coffey talking in that 'Yes massa' dialect? Definitely. But was it historically accurate? I think so. As for the film being racist to white people by portraying them as the bad guys: I don't think so. Sorry to say, but at that time many white people were the bad guys. This film reminded me of the true story of a family cousin who was lynched in Louisiana for the rape and murder of a local white girl with whom he had been friends. It wasn't until he had been hung on a bridge directly in front of a church that the truth came out: She had been murdered by her white stepfather. The whole white town came out for the spectacle. The sherrif was quoted in the newspapers as saying he just couldn't keep the mob from coming in the jail to collect him (my cousin). This didn't occur in centuries past, but during the same time period as The Green Mile's setting. Depicting historical realities doesn't mean you are capitulating to stereotypes. Just because we don't like what happened in the past doesn't mean we should deny its existence. Besides, Tom Hanks, the other hero of this story, is hardly the image of the 'evil white man.'
POSTED 3/13/2000
Tiffany H., East Lansing, MI, United States, 25, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, Hearing-impaired, Medical Student, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 311200011339
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Question:
Why is it so diificult to find sexually active seniors in their late sixties and seventies ?
POSTED 3/13/2000
Ricardo, Rochester, NY, United States, Male, Mesg ID 3122000113132
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Question:
What is the derivation and history of the term 'shine' or 'sunshine' when used as a derogatory term in reference to a black person? I'm investigating a workplace racial harassment case in which a white person greeted a black person by saying, 'What's up, sunshine?' The black person was offended.
POSTED 3/13/2000
Janet, Denver, CO, United States, 58, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, investigator, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 3132000113551

Responses:
The term 'shine' orginated with the shoeshine business. A shine was a black person who shined shoes. Another term was 'boot black.' Perhaps the person did not hear the word 'sun' in the term. It's really a play on words. To call a person a shine is to call them 'boot black' as in skin color. In the segregated days, to be called black was tantamount to being called a nigger or, worse yet, an African (because of the stereotypes prevalent in the '30s and '40s via the Tarzan movies). Also, in those days they had products that supposedly could 'lighten' the skin, thus adding to the fear and apprehension of being called 'black.' Also, many advertisers used blacks as images for their products, such as Aunt Jemima, Gold Dust washing powder and Niggerhead tobacco. The images were people black as night, with big lips and protruding eyeballs. Of course blacks did not wish to be associated with such images, so many called themselves colored or negro. The term 'shine' is a throwback to those days when our image of us as a people was distorted, and it caused us great anguish and shame. Perhaps the person who felt insulted remembers the shame but probably not the reason he/she felt ashamed. I'm reminded of a song by James Brown called, 'Down and Out in New York City.' In it, one lyric goes, 'Here's a dime, boy, give me a shine, boy!'
POSTED 3/15/2000
Will, West Los Angeles, CA, United States, 45, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Mesg ID 314200072142
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