Best of the Week
of March 31, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 31, 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.

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

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When They Come Out Of The Rain?"

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Question:

How do people feel about the recent infusion of new stereotypes about African Americans in movies and television, in which they are portrayed as wise authority figures who guide and mentor younger white males? For example, Morgan Freeman in 'Seven' and Denzel Washington in 'Training Day'? Is the infusion of hip-hop America in suburbia a reason? Are African Americans now looked at to fill a role as suave, debonair and graceful, and if they do not fulfill their role, are they viewed as social malcontents;? Are all African-American males supposed to dress well, speak elegantly and walk with subdued confidence in order to be recognized by white America?

POSTED 4/2/2002

Yair K., Alexandria, VA, United States, Mesg ID 3242002102634


Responses:
That's nothing new. It's the old 'noble savage' idea that somehow blacks or especially Native Americans are 'tuned in' to some ancient knowledge and wisdom that the rest of us have lost touch with. Another good example is the elderly black woman in Stephen King's The Stand. I have heard black people complain about this.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 42200295614


I must admit a bit of confusion over your questions. By using the term 'stereotype,' are you implying that there are no blacks who perform as mentors over 'non-blacks'? That this situation does not take place in the 'real world'? (Look to the military, for one example). Are you implying that blacks as opposed to other races are not capable of being suave, debonair and graceful? That aside, is your view of blacks merely a repetition of stereotypes? Dou do realize that being suave, debonair, graceful and having the ability to mentor are not 'race' engendered? That blacks as well as people of all races are capable of such? Perhaps Hollywood's portrayal of these stereotypes, as you call them, are more reflective of the 'real' world. Perhaps seeing them on the screen opens one's mind to the reality that black people do exist and perform, just like anybody else. Real black men do nurture, mentor and support people of all races. Historically, blacks were responsible for 'mentoring' the youngster, who then went on to assume the role as his/her boss - a la 'breaking the color barrier' in the business world. And it is true that many blacks were taught you have to be twice as smart, twice as good to get the job.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Serene, Chandler, AZ, United States, 43, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Self Employed, Business Owner, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 422002103519


'Training Day'? An epiphany in race relations? Denzel Washington plays a crooked, preening degenerate who drugs, frames for murder and attempts to kill his protege, all in one day. In the end, he is betrayed by his own people. Hey, I was far more impressed with the African-American guy who taught me a way to store my old e-mails outside of Microsoft Outlook. The Hispanic guy who coached my son's Little League basketball team was far more influential, and he didn't try to kill anyone nor use the F word once per sentence. Believe me, only Hollywood thinks that Hollywood is ahead of the curve on anything.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Cubicle Person no Longer on Sabbatical, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 42200210814


I believe there's a definite push to get away from the 'Buckwheat' stereotype of old and the 'gangster' stereotype of more recent. From Amos and Andy to the Lone Ranger, history had a way of putting non-whites into lesser roles. Putting forth such positive stereotypes may be on one hand overkill, but on the other it's only making up for decades of lost time. However, progress will be completed when African Americans can play the silly flunky and the wise elder in equal numbers without attracting outrage. Yeah, there is a tendency for whites to look upon other ethnic cultures as somehow more soulful and real than their own. It's a natural rebellion, but an expected one, as it's been the common one for several generations now. Comfort and privilege will often form doubts about one's place in the world, and create longings for lives without the perceived 'evilness' of such a charmed life. From New Age blond 'shamanists' to suburbia hip-hoppers, this is not an uncommon trait and will always have its place in middle-class culture.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Tree Trimmer, High School Diploma, Lower class, Mesg ID 42200222259


I don't see how two movies that have African Americans as superior officers constitutes a stereotype, and Denzel Washington was certainly not the typical wise authority figure in that movie; he had his own agenda. In the last few years, African Americans have had many more roles than usual and have finally been able to play more versatile roles than just comedians and sidekicks. As far as how we are supposed to look and act, I think all Americans are supposed to try to dress well and speak eloquently and have confidence, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Why should that be considered a black or white thing?

POSTED 4/4/2002

Sherman, Richmond, CA, United States, <sjack916@aol.com>, 33, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, contractor, Technical School, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 432002121526


How do people feel? Normal, I hope. The images you see of positive African-American males is simply the movies catching up with life. Those role models are not new in life, only in media. As an African-American man, I worry more about the negative images you see. It is those negative images that many people think are normal. Maybe one day it will be the reverse.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Harvey, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 48, Male, Black/African American, Sales, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 43200285301

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Question:

Do non-government employees (or people in general) really believe that government employees are lazy, dumb and/or rude, or is this just a media stereotype that gets perpetuated? If people believe this, why?

POSTED 4/2/2002

Janet E., Atlanta, GA, United States, 50, Female, Unity School of Christianity, Straight, Trainer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 3262002113122

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Question:

Why are some people more comfortable discussing personal issues in the workplace and not accepting of those who choose not to? Specifically, women who hold an entire office hostage to their personal issues, such as a quest to become pregnant, sexual matters, family problems, etc.? When you are uncomfortable or shy away from such topics, you are then perceived as 'anti-social or unsympathetic,' which leads to a belief that you are not a team player or unfriendly. Have others encountered and/or been victimized by such comments and behaviors? How do you combat it?

POSTED 4/2/2002

Serene, Chandler, AZ, United States, 43, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Self-employed, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 326200275244

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Question:

So many women I know want to get rid of all the negatives of male-dominated, pre-feminism society, but then they want to keep all the perks ('But I'm a girl, can't you do it for me?') What's the deal?

POSTED 4/2/2002

Nathan H., St. Louis, MO, United States, <jester8835N@Netscape.net>, 16, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Student, Middle class, Mesg ID 327200294834


Responses:
Yeah, girls sometimes still want guys to do the heavy lifting. And guys have their lazy moments, too, expecting girls to do the dishes. We all secretly want to have all the perks of being an adult human being while doing the minimum amount of work/responsibility. Some of the excuses we use to get out of doing something are gender-related because that excuse happens to be handy. My spouse says: 'Can't you sew on this button? You're better at it,' even though he is in the same house with the same needles and thread in the cabinet as I am. For each time you hear a female saying, 'But can't you do it, you're the guy?' look for an equal number of times that you expect someone else to do the work because they're a girl (your mom to do the laundry, etc.) - see if it balances out. And see if you don't hear a lot of other excuses that aren't really indications that someone doesn't want to do something regardless of gender.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Kelly, Austin, TX, United States, <bunrab@aol.com>, 48, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Professional, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 432002114301

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Question:

I understand the need for 'people of color,' or any people for that matter, to make strides in areas they previously haven't. I think it's good for society. But these delineations make my head hurt. What exactly is an 'African American'? I think the term is over-used and sometimes even abused. To be accurate, shouldn't Halle Berry have been the first 'Mulatto-American' best actress? Also, if she had gotten more of her mom's genes than her dad's, would I even be writing this? I have a friend who looks 'white,' but is so many things melded into one it's not even funny. Which box should she check? And more importantly, why does it matter? Frankly, I think all this categorization is divisive and sad. We should get over it.

POSTED 4/2/2002

Ed S., New York, NY, United States, 29, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 328200273233

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Question:

Why do straight women always assume the worst when a lesbian compliments them?

POSTED 3/18/2002

Whitney J, Glendale, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 3182002121928


Responses:
Homophobia.

POSTED 4/2/2002

Emma, L.os Angeles, CA, , Female, Straight, Mesg ID 327200284745


I think anyone is a little leary if someone they're not interested in compliments them. If a straight woman is a little uncomfortable with a lesbian complimenting them, they're also probably uncomfortable with a man they don't find attractive doing the same. Of course, some women are just going to be uncomfortable around lesbians, and that's just their own issue.

POSTED 4/2/2002

A.R., Sacramento, CA, United States, 31, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Actor and Singer, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 41200213828


I have a very good lesbian friend, and we have talked about this before. I think most people do not understand gay people, and therefore feel threatened by them. As my friend told a girl once who made a comment about her sexuality: 'Are you attracted to every man you see? What makes you think I am attracted to you then? Don't flatter yourself.'

POSTED 4/2/2002

Allison J., Odessa, TX, United States, Female, Straight, Mesg ID 318200294031


Probably for the same reason that many men, straight or extremely closeted, fear sharing a locker room, dorm room or other close community with openly gay men. Ignorance regarding sexual orientation may lead the fearful to worry that 1) they'll have to deal with an unwanted sexual advance or 2) that they're somehow giving off a vibe that makes others think the complimentee is gay. I'm straight but appreciate being told -even by those I'm not sexually interested in -that I look good or that something is attractive about me.

POSTED 4/2/2002

C., Austin, TX, , 30-ish, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 3192002111636

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Question:

I love all the people of the world, but why do some of them have breath that smells like hot garbage?

POSTED 3/17/2002

Jost, Hayward, CA, United States, Mesg ID 312200284731


Responses:
This is unquestionably THE stupidest question I have seen on this generally excellent site.

POSTED 4/2/2002

Carter, Chicago, IL, , Male, Mesg ID 3202002103706


I'm guessing that they don't brush their teeth.

POSTED 4/2/2002

Daria, Tampa, FL, United States, Female, Mesg ID 324200225244

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Question:

Why do white people smell like wet dogs when they come out of the rain?

POSTED 3/1/1999

Cass, Detroit, MI, United States, Female, Mesg ID 3199102022


Responses:
To my knowledge, blacks' hair doesn't produce the grease that a white person's does, and perhaps the lamb's wool explanation is partly correct. Maybe it's not really the hair but the grease that produces the smell, in 'reaction' to the water.

POSTED 4/2/2002

Rob, Royal Oak, MI, United States, 29, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Architect, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 318200285801

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