Best of the Week
of March 19, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 19, 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:
Why do white people seem to have no pride in themselves or their culture? By this I mean the white culture at large (not German American, Italian American etc.). Even in the preface of the book based on the Y? Forum - Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs When They Come Out Of The Rain? - the white guy acts like an idiot when compared to his wise, all-knowing black friend. Pop culture, especially TV, seems to latch on to this stereotype as well. Look at the Y? book again. White people smelling like dogs is an insult, yet white people laugh it off, some probably saying 'We're just corny white people.' But if I said black people smell like dirty underarms, those same white people would chastise me. When did we become such a joke?
POSTED 3/23/2000
Ronald M., Lowell, MA, United States, 20, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Truck Driver, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1117199932906

Responses:
When you say 'white culture,' I'm not exactly sure what you mean. White is very broad and non-specific. The term includes everyone from a European background - the Irish, Swedes, Italians, Serbians, Albanians, Poles, the French... The list goes on and on. Even some people from Argentina and northern Africa are considered white. White also includes people of many different religions. To lump all of these people into one category is impossible. So, to take pride in just being white is meaningless. As for the title of the book: Read the rest of the title ...and other questions worth a smack on the head from mom. Besides, I believe it is important to be able to laugh at ourselves. Everyone needs to let go enough to see the humor in everyday life.
POSTED 3/24/2000
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 323200055813
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Question:
I don't know much about happiness, but I know I don't feel it. I don't really have a reason not to - I'm gainfully employed, eat well and have a roof over my head. However, I have few friends and spend most of my nights wasting time on the Internet and watching TV. I feel depressed a lot and don't really have anyone to talk to about it. I'm actually embarrassed to tell my family. Anyway, if anyone has the key to happiness, please let me know.
POSTED 3/23/2000
Mickey M., Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY, United States, 18, Male, Catholic, Longshoreman, Mesg ID 322200090541

Responses:
I feel the key to happiness is personal interaction. Talking to people, going out, etc. You said you don't have many friends, and it seems you may be a bit insecure? I would make myself 'available' to whoever was around, even just as a first step. For example, if a bunch of guys from work are going out, join them. Even if you aren't crazy about them, you may be able to meet other people while you're out. Or stop at a book store and spark up a conversation with someone reading a book that interests you. Just relax and smile. Go out and have fun.
POSTED 3/23/2000
Danielle, Lakehurst, NJ, United States, <daniellekoukos@att.net>, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Systems Analyst, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3232000123229

Find a way to do something, no matter how simple, for someone else. Start small. Then consider volunteering for United Way, Habitat for Humanity or a similar organization. Best wishes.
POSTED 3/23/2000
Jeff, San Antonio, TX, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, HR Professional, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 3232000100826

Does your employer provide coverage to see a counselor? If so, I highy recommend you take advantage of that benefit. If it's not covered, seek help from local community centers or your church. Talking it out with a neutral party can help you zero in on what's holding you back and/or missing in your life. I have been through counseling, and even went on to see a psychiatrist to get through some troubling events in my life (death of my mother, accepting my sexuality) that were causing me to withdraw from my social life and isolate myself at home. Happiness is out there, but sometimes it sure does try to hide. Group therapy and community activism/volunteerism are also ways to get out and meet others in a non-pressure situation. Look in the mirror and realize that you are one of God's children, and as such, you need to take care of yourself. Make the decision to seek help in breaking the cycle of depression and you will be forever changed.
POSTED 3/23/2000
Mark B., Dallas, TX, United States, <civic-si@swbell.net>, 39, Male, UFMCC - Cathedral of Hope, White/Caucasian, Gay, Financial Analyst, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 323200084842
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Question:
I am a tenth-grade student in the central Square area in New York. I am doing a project on World War II concentration camps and what is was like for people. I have a few questons I would like to include in my project, such as what situations you went through and how that period of time was for you and your family. Also, what do you think about prejudices today? Do you feel people are getting better or worse? And last but definitely not least, do you think history could repeat itself? Do you feel that people respect you more today? Have people ever said "Hey I'm sorry about what happend to you and your family."? Or asked you about what went on? I'm very interested in what happened in concentration camps, and yes I have learned in school but I would like to hear it from a survivor.
POSTED 3/22/2000
Christie, Central Square, NY, United States, <Cheer4cs@aol.com>, 16, Female, White/Caucasian, student, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 37200014318
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Question:
I would like for someone who is either well-versed in the Catholic religion or who goes to the Catholic Church on a regular basis to explain to me how the use of idols and repetition of certain prayers is supported by your religion. Given the commandment in Exodus 20:2 (or 3/4 depending on the Bible version) to not worship any other Gods nor to make images (idols) of things in the heavens or earth, why do Catholics believe in having idols of the Virgin Mary and icons of Jesus? Also, Matthew 6:7 indicates Jesus said that when praying we should not use 'vain repetitions' or should not say the same things over and over when praying. However, Catholics recite the Lord's Prayer and Hail Marys, etc. How does your religion support these things in reference to what God says about them as recorded in the Bible? (I know other religions do things such as these, like Buddhists, but I only know of one religion -Catholicism - that has the Bible as a guide but partakes of these behaviors.)
POSTED 3/21/2000
Stacey, Boston, MA, United States, <stimply@bigfoot.com>, 27, Female, computer consultant, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 320200011610

Responses:
There is a strong sense in the Catholic tradition that God's story of salvation in the Bible is continued in the life of the Church. Furthermore, this story of salvation has been shown to us repeatedly through the lives of the Saints. The 'idols' you mention (pictures, statues, etc.) remind us of the story of salvation. They are created for the glory of God, who acted through the lives of the saints, not for the glory of the saints themselves. Repetitive prayers (for example, the 'Our Father' and 'Hail Mary' in the rosary) likewise point beyond themselves to mysteries of the rosary. These mysteries are the Biblical events that make up the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The repetitive prayers are a sort of mantra that helps the person praying to focus on the events of salvation.
POSTED 3/23/2000
Jeff, San Antonio, TX, United States, 45, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, HR Professional, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 322200072225
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Question:
Why is it that black men have such hostility toward black women? As an African-American woman, age 38, I have encountered this very extreme hostility (or extreme coldness) from my African-American brothers. It is displayed in many ways, from making disparaging remarks about my body to sitting next to me on the subway or bus with a leg pressed against mine. It is for this reason that I no longer attempt to have friendships/relationships with African-American men. This is especially important because I have a son, age 6. If black men are openly hostile to me, how would they treat my son?
POSTED 3/21/2000
Rhonda O., New York, NY, United States, <Rhonda_Outlaw@ars.aon.com>, 38, Female, Lutheran, Black/African American, Straight, Account Representative, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 321200034726
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Question:
Why are older Chinese males so obsessed with superstitious cures for impotence that they have depleted the world population of tigers, rhinoceras, bears and some forms of marine life?
POSTED 3/21/2000
John, Chicago, IL, United States, 44, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay, systems analyst, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 320200025013

Responses:
Your question begs a bigger question: Why do human beings everywhere feel their needs (medical, dietary, personal or otherwise) supercede the needs of the environment and other species? I think the answer to your question is ignorance and/or lack of concern. For example, if you are a meat-eater, I would ask you a similar question: Why would you eat meat knowing that acres and acres of rain forests have to be cleared for cattle to graze? Why would you eat meat knowing that animal wastes pollute our waters? Why would you eat another sentient being? Some people don't know the consequences of their choices, or they do but just don't care.
POSTED 3/23/2000
Cindy, New York, NY, United States, 26, Female, Asian, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 322200054534
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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

Responses:
I live in a small town with a population less than 1,000. I have observed the same occurances daily. Cigarette butts and beer cans in front yards, loud music being played, honking horns at all hours of the night, double parking, etc. It disgusts me that people have such terrible manners and no regard for other human beings. Oh, did I mention that my husband and I are the only two black people in town? I don't believe that sensitivity training is necessary...what is being displayed seems to be a trend in our time: lack of 'home' training. We live in a generation (regardless of race) where we are taught not to care about anyone. Movies, television, and music are filled with 'me-first-and-only' attitudes. These mediums are taking the place of parental training. What your friend is experiencing is not caused by his neighbor's race, but by selfishness and apathy.
POSTED 3/21/2000
Sophia, Oxford, IN, United States, 25, Female, Black/African American, Secretary, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 3172000123911

I take it your friend is also a white, middle-class (thus privileged) male who has not considered the reasons people of repressed backgrounds haven't just slotted into the white man's way of life. I'm not even from your country and am aware of the race relations and slave history of African Americans. Australia is no different in the discrimination and judgments projected by white ruling class on aboriginal people (traditional inhabitants of this country). Alcohol-related behavior is often singled out to demonstrate their supposed moral inferiority, as is their limited success in achieving the goals of whites, i.e. having a neat house, impressive annual income, car and 2.3 children. My final point is in the form of a quote that I can only hope you will consider in your opinions on this matter: "The joy of creation is in its infinite diversity and the way in which our individual differences combine to create meaning and beauty." - Mr. Spock, Star Trek.
POSTED 3/21/2000
Amanda L., Sydney, NA, Australia, <manda_la@yahoo.com>, 28, Female, White/Caucasian, teacher, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3162000111518

There are people from every race and society who would, according to your standards, need sensitivity training. Because one black person is messy and rude to his neighbors does not mean all blacks are rude and mean. Just because there is white trash does not mean I assume as a black person that all white people are trash.
POSTED 3/21/2000
Jon, Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, Male, Black/African American, Mesg ID 3152000113003

I would suggest that if the neighbor attends the class, then you, too, might benefit from such instruction as well. While I empathize with your friend's dilemma, I'd argue that it isn't about race. Call the guy (neighbor) an idiot because he is. Race is irrelevant here. His behavior is a reflection of him as an individual, irrespective of his color. Honestly, if he were in an all-black neighborhood, do you think he'd behave any differently? I have new neighbors, too. I live in a middle-class neighborhoof in a predominantly white area. My new neighbors blare their music(everything from Eldrige to Puffy Daddy), smoke weed that permeates our halls and talk so loudly that when you're entering your own unit, you can hear the conversation with the clarity of Sprint. I'd say they're pretty rude because they simply have disregard for others, period. Their behavior is not predicated on the fact that they are white. There are plenty of folks who desire to live in stable, quiet, clean neighborhoods. This reflects values, not race. If property values do drop, it will be because of property owners who fail to maintain the aesthetics of the neighborhood, not because a black family moved in. Sorry, but morons come in all varieties.
POSTED 3/21/2000
Zawadi, Farmington Hills, MI, United States, <aquarius9@hotmail.com>, 35, Female, Black/African American, Publishing, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 315200074036

First, remove the word 'black' from this narrative. Race is not the question here, behavior is. You say that clotheslines, fences, etc., are not allowed here. There must be a homeowners' association (HOA). Does your friend pay dues? If so, there are probably bylaws against this sort of thing under the general heading of 'peaceful enjoyment of property' or something like that. If the offensive neighbor is breaking the HOA regulations, depending on how they are written, he could be fined or even forced to move. I do know that, generally speaking, failure to pay dues creates a lien against the property (i.e., the HOA could take it away from you and sell it to satisfy the lien); perhaps pertinacious failure to abide by the other regulations could force similar action. Your friend needs to get an attorney, the sooner the better.
POSTED 3/21/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 315200063316

Your opinion was well put, however your attack on blacks is pointless. Unless you're a racist, I don't think you should have pointed out the blacks in need of 'sensitivity training.' Not to mention it's all in how you approach someone. I can't vouch for this neighbor because I don't know him, but perhaps your friend went over to his house at a time when either he was displeased or your friend was angry. Either way, I was with you up until you decided to target him because of his ethnicity. The best I can offer for advice is to go talk to him when the time is convenient for your friend and his neighbor.
POSTED 3/21/2000
Malik D., Ft. Campbell, KY, United States, <buddap@yahoo.com>, 21, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Government, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 315200053559

I grew up in a neighborhood that turned from a middle class, predominantly white neighborhood to an increasingly poor black neighborhood over about 15 years. The first black homeowners were mostly middle-class, working professionals. They were quiet, keeping their properties well-maintained, if not in better condition than the long-time residents. They were welcomed with open arms, and there was almost no conflict. About 10 years after black families first started moving into the neighborhood, the economy of the city fell on hard times. Many families relocated, and there was a 'die-off' of a large number of elderly homeowners. Property values plummeted because there was a growing supply of real estate in an area where demand was non-existent. Across the tracks, literally, was a predominantly poor black neighborhood. Some lower-income residents of these areas, assisted by subsidies and loans, bought houses in the 'good' areas across the tracks. Absentee landlords also snapped up property, and were not selective in choosing tenants. There was an influx of residents from another class, with different behavioral patterns. You had the stereotypical horns honking, people yelling from the sidewalk without using doorbells, loud music and so on. Lawns weren't kept up, and some houses had a lot of in-and-out visitors. These might have been acceptable behaviors in their original communities, but not in this middle-class area. Not too shortly afterward, both middle class white and black homeowners left. It wasn't so much fear of blacks as it was a culture clash. The yelling and horns honking are not a 'black thing' but a lower-class behavior not representative of blacks as a whole. Unfortunately, because there's a disproportionate number of lower-income blacks, some white people make the observation that all blacks are loud, noise, rude and so on. There are certain stereotypical behaviors among lower-income whites that aren't too desirable, either - 'collecting' inoperable vehicles, leaving toys on the lawn, activities resembling what would be seen on the stage of the Jerry Springer Show, and so on. Rather than condemn the poster for 'racism,' let's try to answer this question - why is there a stereotype that blacks are loud and sometimes inconsiderate of their neighbors? Stereotypes often have their roots in some actual fact or form of behavior, so there has to be something behind this belief.
POSTED 3/23/2000
Dan, Buffalo, NY, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 322200044714

This is not a 'black issue;' unfortunately, there are people out there who just do not want to care about other people's feelings. I am a black British female, well-educated, brought up in an upper-class family, living accordingly in a very good area, and have had the exact same problem with some new neighbors of Caucasion descent. Every family on my street, which happens to be 99.9 percent white, threatened this neighbor with court action. I went around with some tea and cakes plus a smile, and it turned out they were mostly unaware of exactly what the problem was at first, and when they did realize what was the problem, they felt too embarrassed and victimized to approach everyone and apologize. We all want to live in a nice safe neighborhood, regardless of our color.
POSTED 3/23/2000
Victoria, London, NA, United Kingdom, <victoriajames_@hotmail.com>, 26, Female, Black British, Straight, Chartered Accountant, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 322200052802
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