Best of the Week
of March 25, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 25, 2001, 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.

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Question:

To white men: Many times I will catch a white man staring or smiling at me. I smile back, usually, if I don't have my head in a book reading. But have you ever stared or smiled at a black girl and wanted more? Maybe to talk to her? I get this a lot on the subway - once from a really cute white guy, but nothing more. I guess we both may have chickened out or something, but I wanted to know, have you ever done this before, and if so, why did you stop? Did you regret it later and wish that you had gotten the courage up and spoken?

POSTED 1/12/2001

Angela, Washington, DC, United States, <ajbrown@rocketmail.com>, 29, Female, Christian, Brazilian, Straight, Teacher/Writer, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 111200115630


Responses:
I've had a couple of black females in my life - dating, non-dating and the 'stare' variety. Here's the story of one of them: I worked with a black woman who was raised in England and involved in a long-distance relationship with another non-American black. We started talking at work about all kinds of high-minded issues. Underneath, my mind was 100 percent on her. We went to lunch once in a while, to a few group outings and to movies or dinner. No hanky-panky, just as friends. On at least four occasions in public places in and around Washington, D.C., we experienced incidents involving black guys who felt the need to vocally indicate that they did not appreciate seeing us together in what must have looked to them like a 'dating' situation. Mainly the incidents involved comments in our direction, under their breath, like 'who the blank do you think you are!?' But she got the same treatment, including long stares. We ignored the incidents and never discussed them. Her relationship prevented us from dating, but I know we really dug each other, and yet I believe we still may not have gotten together. Here's my theory: if a white girl dates a black guy, she's open-minded. That's also generally true in the case of Asian/white relationships. But if a black girl dates a white guy, then, in some circles, she's sleeping with the enemy, or betraying her race, and at least a portion of the black community is comfortable enough with their racism to communicate it in public without any fear of being called a racist. I'm not saying I'm 100 percent right or that this is the only reason, but that that's what I experienced in racially charged D.C. Plus, if I did more than smile at a woman on the Metro, I'd be concerned she might punch the emergency button and have me arrested (although I did get one woman's phone number on the Metro once ... but that's another story).

POSTED 3/26/2001

John, Arlington, VA, United States, 30, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 324200163815

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Question:

Why does it seem that many members of the Jewish community have a lot of money, power and smarts? From Einstein to Streisand, and Hollywood to diamond dealing, where does it come from?

POSTED 3/19/2001

G. Chan, Monréal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 18, Male, Agnostic, Asian, Gay, student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 316200111512


Responses:
The roots of many Jews in North America go back to the great wave of immigration from South and East Europe in the early 20th century. It's likely that members of the Jewish community you have in mind have been here for three or four generations. They have been able to settle, open businesses, make money, own real estate and organize on many levels. As for celebrities and other notable individuals, I'm sure plenty of them are non-Jewish.

POSTED 3/26/2001

A.V., Brooklyn, NY, United States, 21, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, student, Mesg ID 325200142536

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Question:

Why do Italian Americans dislike or hate blacks, use derogatory terms to descibe them such as 'Mullis,' chase blacks out of their neighborhoods and, in the worst cases, beat them with bats, when to the best of my knowledge blacks have never done anything to Italians?

POSTED 3/23/2001

Wam, Baldwin, NY, United States, 36, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 322200120330


Responses:
Because Italians are, overall, congenitally ignorant thugs who can hardly string two words of English together, but because they had an empire 1,500 years ago and one of them is responsible for discovering (more like falling back-assward into) this continent 500 years ago, they think they are entitled to respect. Despite this - they, the whites who wrote the book on how whites behave - consider themselves an ethnic minority, and every time they're portrayed in the media as organized criminals or ignorant thugs, the Italian Anti-Defamation League (i.e. the Mafia) whines to the media that that's 'racist,' and that 'if blacks were portrayed that way, no one would stand for it.' What a joke. In short, most Italians are type-A personalities who feel the world owes them automatic, unconditional respect because of accomplishments their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers made. And when they see a black guy living the same way in the same neighborhood as them, it forces them to acknowledge that they aren't the superior race anymore, and that burns their ass in ways they're too stupid to express any other way than violently.

POSTED 3/26/2001

Sean, Boston, MA, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 323200131347


Sean, let me guess, you're from Southie, right? I guess I should assume you're a drunk who beats his wife and kids, since you have an Irish name. How sad that you feel this way about any ethnic group. Wam, I disagree with your statements about Italians. People are people. My family was chased out of South Boston in the '70s due to busing (we weren't Irish in a predominantly Irish neighborhood).

POSTED 3/27/2001

R., Boston, MA, United States, Mesg ID 327200171003


Saying Italians are 'congenitally ignorant thugs' does nothing to help the issue. I am not Italian but grew up in a city where there were a large number of Italians. There was no more animosity between Italians and blacks than between any other groups. There will always be some people from one group who do not like some people from another. Has every Italian you've ever met hated you, or was it just some? And don't you think there must be some black people who hate Italians?

POSTED 3/27/2001

Stacey, Durham, NH, United States, <slehrer@cisunix.unh.edu>, 20, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, college student, Middle class, Mesg ID 327200174247


I'm a little surprised that Y? Forum would post such an inflammatory message, but I presume it was to play Devil's Advocate and spark a little INTELLECTUAL discussion of the subject. I think Sean's perspective stems in large part from his own ethnicity (I'm only guessing he is Irish) and where he lives. Boston has large Irish and Italian communities, and as both groups came to the area at roughly the same time, and experienced many of the same social problems (inability to get work, ill-conceived stereotypes), they tended to lash out at each other in the fight to establish themselves and be recognized as more than second-class citizens. It is just human nature to want to feel like you aren't the 'lowest man on the totem pole.' That is where I feel the perceived hatred of blacks comes in as well. Unfortunately, until the influx of Eastern European emigres, there was no one else for these groups to feel better than than American blacks. I do not, however, feel that this continues to be as great a problem as it has been in the past. At the risk of sounding idealistic, I am half Irish and half Italian and have a black boyfriend. While neither of my sets of grandparents were very happy at first about my parents' marroage (everything is fine now) and I'm fairly sure that my Italian grandfather (who has passed away) would have had some issues with my relationship, I think things are coming together for the people in this country who are open-minded enough to let them. Of course, there will always be those who fight progress and change with every fiber of their being; but the important thing is to not let ignorance pervade yourself, and to try to fight it in those around you when you have the strength or opportunity.

POSTED 3/27/2001

Jessica, Framingham, MA, United States, 22, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 327200193058


It sounds like Sean has an intense hatred for Italians. If someone had used the same terminology for any other ethnic group (black, Latino, Asian, whatever), Sean would be outraged. He needs to think a little about what he's saying, and the monitors of Y? Forum should respond to postings like his. My response to the original question is that I don't think it has to do with being Italian, but more to do with insular communities that aren't accustomed to different people and therefore fear them and make assumptions about their behavior. I see this in rural communities in the United States and in other countries such as Japan.

Director's note: From time to time, Y? posts submissions that push or exceed its standards for non-confrontational dialogue, in order to ensure that a broad sampling of opinions, no matter how bluntly worded or potentially divisive, is provided its users.

POSTED 3/27/2001

Eric, Indianapolis, IN, United States, 32, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer/Sculptor, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 327200193153

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Question:

To people with a disability: Does it (or do you let it) keep you from doing something you really want to do?

POSTED 3/21/2001

Becky C., Bernhards Bay, NY, United States, 15, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 3212001122951


Responses:
I lost my right leg when I was nearly 17. I use a prosthesis often, but sometimes get out on crutches because I feel more free that way. There's nothing I can't do, but I might do it in a different way - like hop across the room carrying two cups of coffee (takes practice!). I'm a university student, and no one really cares if I come in on crutches. I can compete in swimming, too - and I've tried wheelchair basketball. My dad, who was born in China, tells me that Chinese culture tried to hide disabled people in the past. But here in Australia, people are out in wheelchairs, or on prostheses. No one here seems to wear prosthetic arms, but every leg amputee wears a prosthesis, now without cosmetic covering, because they are so high-tech and slim. I can't see how such disabilities would stop anyone.

POSTED 3/28/2001

Justin L., Sydney, NA, Australia, <justinl80@hotmail.com>, 20, Male, Catholic, Eurasian, Straight, amputee, Student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 327200174146

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Question:

Why are many elderly people afraid of teenagers? Do most of them think that just because some teens are bad that every teenager is a drug addict who doesn't care about anyone but themselves?

POSTED 3/23/2001

Azrael, Central Square, NY, United States, 16, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 321200115919

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Question:

For about two years, my local newspaper has offered families of the deceased the opportunity to place a photo in their obituary announcement. Since then, my totally informal and unscientific review shows about 10 percent of all obituaries have photos, and of those that do, about 80 percent are black people. Why do we have this situation? By the way, my community is about 65 to 70 percent white.

POSTED 3/26/2001

Robert, Jamison, FL, United States, Male, Unitarian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Professional, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 326200180740

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Question:

I have noticed a very curious thing about the personals ads appearing in my local weekly papers. While the 'women seeking men' category has ads from women of all ethnic backgrounds - white, Asian, Latina and African Americans being represented in about equal numbers - I'd say about 85 to 90 percent of the 'men seeking women' ads are placed by white men. There is a smattering of African-American men seeking women, but hardly any Asian or Latino men. This is particularly discouraging for women like me, who find Asian and Latino men attractive. Why, then, is it mostly white men who place the ads? Is there some cultural barrier against non-white men posting personals ads? By the way, I live in the San Francisco Bay area - where, if anything, whites are in the minority - so it has nothing to do with the general population here being mostly white.

POSTED 3/23/2001

Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, 30s, Female, Pagan, Straight, Office manager/writer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 321200171604

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Question:

I've never had a girlfriend. I feel frustrated. Maybe it's because I'm shy, too much of a regular guy or don't go out at night too often. Are all of my 'disadvantages' strong enough to scare women away?

POSTED 3/21/2001

Carlos M., Miami, FL, United States, 22, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 321200192640


Responses:
Carlos, those aren't bad qualities. Maybe you just have not found the right woman. They may hold you back a little from being more forward and going after what you want, but you will find that girl when the time is right.

POSTED 3/26/2001

Sarah, Redton, MI, United States, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 324200170115

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