Best of the Week
of April 9, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of April 9, 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:
In my hometown, it was a commonly held stereotype that Italian-Americans had a preference for what most consider to be gaudy possessions. I found this stereotype to be true. Not all Italians have 'poor taste' when judged from a middle-American standard, but I knew a disproportionately large amount of Italian-American families with houses filled with rococo furniture, clear vinyl-covered carpets and furniture, loud wallpaper, yards covered in statuary and fountains, initials on the garage door, large Cadillacs with aftermarket vinyl roofs in the driveway, ornate wrought-iron fences surrounding the property, elaborate shrines to the Virgin Mary, and so on. Many Italian-American families also paved or bricked over much of the front lawn. Why are these tastes so prevalent among Italian-Americans?
POSTED 4/13/2000
Dave, Denver, CO, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 46200053028
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Question:
Why is it that sometimes people who help disabled people make them do the most inappropriate activities in relation to their disability? For example, I have seen people make blind people jump off a diving board. Do you think that these disabled people are really missing out on this activity, or do you see it as them getting over their disability?
POSTED 4/13/2000
R. Sterken, Ontario, NA, Canada, 19, Female, Muslim, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Upper middle class,Mesg ID 412200071538
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Question:
Why do people from other countries hate Americans so much? They say Americans are stupid, slow, fat, etc... How can anyone say negative things about a whole group of people with a clear conscience? I consider someone who says that all Americans are this way as offensive as saying all blacks are that way.
POSTED 4/12/00
Terry, San Francisco, CA, United States, 16, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Less than High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 482000121607

Responses:
I'm not American and don't hate Americans. But to address the stereotypes you cite 1) Americans are stupid: I don't think Americans are stupid. America has had a lot of inventions, and technologically, the United States is the most advanced country in the world. However, many people from other countries think Americans - from presidential candidates to former vice presidents to many regular folks - are quite naive because they are so self-centered. Even with the easily accessible information technology most Americans have, they don't know much about what's going on the world. So how can you blame others when they say Americans are stupid? 2) Americans are slow: The pace of life of most Americans is quite fast compared with most African, Latin American and European countries, but slower compared with some countries in the Far East. There is nothing wrong with being slower; it is just a matter of comparison. 3) Americans are fat: I'd have to say that on average, Americans are the most overweight people in the world. It is just a fact; go all around the world and you won't find any countries that have that many fat people! Stereotyping is not right, but unfortunately, many people in and outside the United States still use it to judge people, because it is an easy and lazy way to come to conclusions about people.
POSTED 4/13/2000
J.C., Boston, MA, United States, 29, Male, Asian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 41200100148

It's not right for anyone to make sweeping generalizations about a whole group of people, because those generalizations will always be wrong. But people do it all the time. As for people hating Americans, some do and some don't. The United States is a huge country with a lot of wealth and resources compared with a lot of other countries. Some people look up to Americans, and others dislike us for this. The United States also gets involved in the conflicts of other countries all the time. This either makes friends or enemies, depending on which side of the conflict a person is on.
POSTED 4/13/2000
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 412200022818
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Question:
As a black male who has dated white and black girls, I want to know why black girls are so difficult. I have found that most white girls are polite and considerate of their partner's feelings, whereas most black girls tend to be downright rude most of the time. They seem to want everything to go their way while giving very little in return. Is this common, or is this just my perception?
POSTED 4/13/2000
Jon, Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, <jon_harder@hotmail.com>, 20, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Upper class, Mesg ID 472000110524
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Question:
I recently admitted to myself and several close friends that I am bisexual. Now I am looking for a relationship with another man, but how do you tell if another guy is interested without offending a straight guy by mistake? Note: because I am still in high school, I do not want anyone who is not gay/bi to know about my orientation. Although I come from a tolerant upper middle class school, I have seen it hurt others.
POSTED 4/13/2000
Alex, Elkins Park, PA, United States, <first_wizard@hotmail.com>, 16, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, High School Student, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 4122000111409
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Question:
A Realtor I've known for years confirms that many whites refuse to knowingly buy a house from a black if they intend to live in the house instead of hold it as an investment. He noted that this practice is less rampant today than several years ago. I know of one black family that claims to have lost a sale when an anxious potential white buyer visited the property and realized the owner was black. The prospective buyer apparently refused to even enter the house. Why would a white buyer feel this way?
POSTED 4/12/2000
Floyd L., Memphis, TN, United States, <lastchild@worldnet.att.netr>, 59, Male, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 492000124219

Responses:
Some white people are racists, and if their hatred is so strong against blacks, this would be a reason for them to not purchase a home - just as blacks who are racist against whites and have such hatred against whites will not buy a home in a predominantly white neighborhood. I live in a predominantly white neighborhood, and yes, neighbors have commented that if a black family were to move in on their block, their home would be up for sale. I feel very strongly against segregation and racism, but realize that it is still a force in today's world. Certain neighborhoods in the Chicago area do attempt to create an environment of racial unity and non-descrimination (Oak Park is an example), but typically, the neighborhoods here are very segregated. One reason I can think of is that predominantly white neighborhoods that at one time flourished and were kept up very well have deteriorated, and the property values have diminished once an element of destructive behavior/black gang violence unfolded. Being a Chicago native and having a family background here since the early 1900s, I can understand this opinion. Certain predominantly black neighborhoods in this region include deteriorated housing, boarded-up windows, garbage, violence, gang activity, drugs, etc., and this is what is seen through our eyes when we enter a black urban neighborhood. This same neighborhood was at one time safe to walk in at night, well-maintained and well-managed. The before-and-after pictures are drastic and saddening. To be honest, many of the predominantly white neighborhoods are not gang-ridden or deteriorated, are well-kept and maintain a much lower crime rate. Perhaps the fear of an area being disrespected and having it decline into a degenerate environment is what fuels this situation.
POSTED 4/13/2000
Linda, Chicago, IL, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Nurse, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 412200070934
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Question:
The term 'White Castle' is mentioned in Eminem's song 'My Name Is' and by KRS-One when he collaborated with the Rascalz on 'Where You At.' What does it mean?
POSTED 4/13/2000
Chris, Kitchener, NA, Canada, 18, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Student/Meat Clerk, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 472000115114
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Question:
I find the supermarket tabloids (National Enquirer, The Globe, etc.) abominable. They even sling mud at little kids like JonBenet Ramsey and Kathie Lee's kid. Even though their only target seems to be celebreties (willing or unwilling, such as Monica Lewinsky), I still cringe at the thought of these tabloids ever digging up largely fabricated dirt about me if I ever became famous. How can anyone stomach such yellow journalism? If you buy them, why do you? Obviously they sell like hotcakes, because they're featured prominently at every checkout stand I've ever stood in.
POSTED 4/12/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 4112000112643
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Question:
Men, what is your dream woman? How does she look, what does she say, what does she do? Women, what is your dream man? How does he look, what does he say and do? Be honest. Don't say you like romantic men/women just because it's the thing to say. What's beautiful seems to always change with fashion, but some things never change. So what do we truly appreciate in each other?
POSTED 4/2/2000
Adriana, Harrisburg, PA, United States, 17, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 3312000125153

Responses:
As cliched as it may sound, the biggest characteristic in my dream woman would be personality. If there's no personality, it really does make a difference in terms of both communication and feeling good around her. I think I have lots of personality, so being with a personality-less girl makes me feel like I'm on a one-way road. I've always found brunette hair to be sexy (most guys go for redheads, but I like brunettes the best). She's GOTTA have a beautiful smile: One that would make me wanna smile, too. And of course, a sex drive is also a must. Guys like sex, and there are times when we can't control our urges, especially when in the arms of a girl we can call our own.
POSTED 4/12/00
David, New Orleans, LA, United States, 26, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 49200054023

My idea of a perfect girl, despite the fact that this is superficial, is someone who is athletic and very fit. She must be someone I am physically attracted to first before I want to get to know her. A girl's personality and overall nature comes second to me. I don't go with the idea that people are big-boned or have some sort of metabolism problem; if a girl is fat, it is because she is fat and eats a lot of crap, and there's nothing more to it. Too many people hide behind medical terms instead of facing the fact that they are lazy and can't take of their bodies; that is why I need a girl who is fit.
POSTED 4/12/00
Jon, Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, <jon_harder@hotmail.com>, Male, Black/African American, Mesg ID 47200010045

Perfection is unrealistic. It doesn't exist in women, men or almost anything. That said, the things important to me in a woman are a sense of humor, an independent spirit, boatloads of affection and warmth, intelligence, confidence, wit and passion for something that doesn't involve me. I want someone who's happy being herself and doesn't need me to complete a picture; in other words, someone who wants me more than needs me. At the same time, I want someone who loves me the way I am and lets me know it.
POSTED 4/12/00
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au>, 36, Male, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 44200085000

My dream man is a woman.
POSTED 4/12/00
Kathryn, Roanoke, VA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 442000103439
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Question:
Can black people grow their hair long? They always seem to have either short hair or weaves or wigs. Is it that they're impatient or because it just doesn't grow that long?
POSTED 4/2/2000
Michelle, Chico, CA, United States, 19, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 331200030736

Responses:
That is an excellent question. I'm a black woman who has long hair (collarbone length). A lot of black women like to keep their hair short for managability reasons; another reason is that we have a tendency to use a mixture of chemical relaxers (hair straighteners) and apply a lot of heat to our hair. That may cause damage and breakage, which will force the purchase of a wig or weave job. In conclusion, yes, black women can grow long hair - I have been doing so for 30 years.
POSTED 4/12/00
Stephanie, Marietta, GA, United States, 30, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Technician, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 45200070451

Black people can grow long hair, just like everyone else. If we couldn't, we'd all be bald. Unfortunately, the procedures many of us use to alter our hair's natural texture, such as perms and pressing with hot combs, often break and damage it. Have you ever seen someone with dreadlocks? They don't participate in any hair-breaking activities, and some of them have glorious, waist-length hair.
POSTED 4/12/00
E.D., Kansas City, MO, United States, 43, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 45200074445

Yes, black people can and do grow their hair long. In my mother's family, all of the women either have or have had long hair (my grandmother could sit on her hair, it was so long). What the issue really is is one of maintenance. My grandmother kept her hair long; my mother, when she was working, had less time to do the necessary maintenance, so she wore her hair shorter (shoulder length). When she retired, she let it grow out, so now it falls halfway down her back. I, too have long hair (middle of my back), and while the maintenance takes a considerable amount of time, 1) I like having long hair, and 2) the look of disbelief from people is an extra 'bonus.' I am amazed by the strangers who will walk up to me and ask whether my hair 'is grown or bought,' or have the gall to touch it, 'to see if it's real.' (I normally respond by grabbing a handful of their hair, and asking them the same question). Also, in regard to maintenance, cost can become an issue. I do my maintenance myself, because when I priced having it done at various salons a few years ago, I was told by more that one beautician that she would have to charge me twice the basic fee, as it would take her twice as long to do my hair. While I felt her reasoning was fair, at that time I could not afford to have it done; now, I continue to care for my hair myself 1) as a matter of personal convenience (don't have to leave the house), and 2) since I can care for it myself, honestly, I'd rather save the money. In addition, there are some people who just prefer short hair. One of my cousins had beautiful long hair as a little girl (waist length), and as long as I can remember, she wanted to wear it short. She and her mother came to the agreement that if she wanted to cut it on her 16th birthday, she could do so. My cousin postponed her birthday party so that she could get her hair cut the minute she woke up on her birthday! She continues to maintain a short 'do -simply because she prefers to.
POSTED 4/12/00
G.E.Long, Chicago, IL, United States, <gelong@usa.net>, 38, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, IT Management, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 472000115035

The problem with black people's hair is that the chemicals used to perm it tend to retard its growth. Nevertheless, there are people out there who use the perm kit, and it does not affect them. I have noticed that those with dreadlocks have very long hair, because it is chemical-free.
POSTED 4/12/00
Ify, Miami, FL, United States, 22, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 47200051414

Haven't you ever seen dreadlocks that are very long? The reason many black people don't have long hair, particularly women, is that many of the chemical processes used to make hair more manageable (mostly relaxers, which straighten hair) are potentially damaging to hair, causing breakage, etc. Non-chemically-treated hair is usually easier to manage short, but that varies from person to person. For a very thorough explanation of this, the website www.wanakee.com might help a little.
POSTED 4/12/00
Mel, Gunnison, CO, United States, 19, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Student/carhop, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 48200022134
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Question:
I'm confused about how girls think. I've been going out with my girlfriend for a while, and we couldn't get along any better. But I've noticed she seems to talk about old boyfriends and the things they did together a lot, almost like she is talking to one of her girlfriends instead of me. It kind of bothers me because I don't care to hear who she went out with or what they did together. Is there any reason she would share this with me? Or anything I should do? I almost feel like just an object to her. But I want our relationship to work out.
POSTED 4/2/2000
David, Talladega, AL, United States, 20, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 331200053734

Responses:
She trusts you enough to speak openly. Is that such a bad thing?
POSTED 4/12/00
Ava, Alhambra, CA, United States, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 492000114153

As a woman who has done this before, I can tell you that your girlfriend is baiting you. She does not want you to question the relationship itself; she wants to gauge your feelings for her by seeing if she can provoke jealousy from you. It is weird, but true. To many women, jealousy equals love, and if you aren't jealous, we take that to mean that you don't care.
POSTED 4/12/00
Cari M., Cincinnati, OH, United States, <tcrca@juno.com>, 23, Female, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Homemaker, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 452000122929

She wants you to be better than the old guy, and she wants to prove that it is right to choose you! Don't make her disappointed. Just show her your outstanding points.
POSTED 4/12/00
Sam, Beijing, NA, China, Mesg ID 46200093321

Either your girlfriend is not over her old boyfriend, or she is a complete moron and has no clue that talking about her ex would bother you. Or, their is the possibility she is trying to make you jealous. But probably she is not yet over him, and because you are now the person she spends most of her time with and talks to the most, she will talk to you about it. I would suggest telling her how you feel.
POSTED 4/12/00
Jon, Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, 20, Male, Mesg ID 472000100911

Just a guess based on my own and friends' personal experience: Maybe your girlfriend is trying to give you hints about what she'd like you to do - i.e. 'My ex-boyfriend used to take me out dancing,' she says, thinking she wishes you would do that, hoping that you'll follow suit and take her out dancing (or whatever), too. Read between the lines; that's my advice. As annoying as these references may be, it is likely that she's trying to communicate what she wishes you would do, rather than trying to make you jealous or intentionally being maudlin or anything like that.
POSTED 4/12/00
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 22, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, student, Mesg ID 46200013137
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Question:
I'm heterosexual but find myself deeply in love with a man. I've since gone to gay bars 'just to see' and wasn't attracted to the men. I'm not attracted to any women now, either. Just this one guy. I'm really stressing; my life is falling apart. Any insights?
POSTED 4/2/2000
Jay, Oakland Park, FL, United States, 38, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 331200095701

Responses:
First, why is your life falling apart? If you have strong feelings for someone, you should address them in an adult manner. The best way to deal with anything is to face it. Have a talk with the man. Feel it out and do it at a pace that is acceptable to both of you. You might find you are confused about your feelings or truly in love. Whichever, the only way you will find balance is to meet with this guy and come to some understanding for yourself. Also, don't forget, you live in a culture that has such a stigma attached to being a gay person. Be true to yourself and your feelings, respect the other person involved and plan on learning a lot about yourself and human interactions.
POSTED 4/12/00
Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 42, Male, Gay, Middle class, Mesg ID 45200080228

Here's some insight: You are gay! If you are not interested in other men and women, it means, quite simply, that you're in love. Good Luck. I hope he feels the same.
POSTED 4/12/00
Danielle K., Lakehurst, NJ, United States, <daniellekoukos@worldnet.att.net>, 24, Female, Systems Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 43200084751

We're talking about denial. Your confusion stems from the fact that you are trying to fit into a category, either straight or gay. Because you are in love with a certain man, it is clear that you have the ability to love men. You don't have to be the type of guy who lisps, wears leathe and hangs out at gay bars in order to have homosexual tendencies. After all, not every straight man gets his kicks out of bars, clubs and pick-up joints, either. So why not throw denial, confusion and categories aside and simply love whomever you love and not try too hard to pigeonhole yourself?
POSTED 4/12/00
Iona J., Tucson, AZ, United States, 32, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 410200011333

The ways of love surprise us all at one time or another. Love has certainly surprised you in the directions it now leads you. You're not the first, but these surprises can shock, disorient, even pain, and learning that you're not the first is no solace. Sorry, I have few insights to help you. But let me add a couple of other notes I hope may help you in a difficult time. First, I admire your willingness to explore gay bars 'just to see.' But bars aren't the answer. Neither are the men in them. You're NOT looking for love. Your problem is that love has found you. So forget the labels: don't worry now about declaring yourself as straight or gay. The real question, the important question: Does he love you? If so, why not explore this part of your lives? Why not act on your love, as slowly as feels comfortable? Find out who the two of your are and what you two want. Maybe you'll discover that what you both want is to share the joy of life together. Sounds great to me! If, alas, he doesn't love you, the world will be painful, but not over. He may have given you a great gift: the opportunity to discover a part of yourself hidden until now. If so, you may want to meet other gay people. Unless you're comfortable in your sexuality, I'd advise you to stay away from gay bars. Once they were the only place for men-loving men to meet each other. Now you have lots of other options, places where you can meet other men outside the context of sex. Check out these other venues. Some of your distress comes from your definition of self: a heterosexual man who deeply loves another man, spiritually, probably physically. It's the labels that cause the pain. Later on, if labels are useful, then use them. But for now rejoice that you're Jay discovering another rich world of love. And maybe if this doesn't work out you'll find yourself in love with a woman. Think of all the ways in which you might enrich such a relationship with what you learn from this one.
POSTED 4/12/00
Thom, Washington, DC, United States, 57, Male, Gay, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 46200062334
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Question:
Why are there not many young, married, African-American female homemakers? Does this have to do with feminism?
POSTED 4/2/2000
Amoranda, Washington, DC, United States, 30, Female, Muslim, Black/African American, Straight, Homemaker, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 42200040835

Responses:
If I am not mistaken, most African-American women in our history have had to work just to keep the family fed, clothed and housed. This is true of most of the older African-American females I've known. The only one I can remember NOT working is my grandmother, who is now in her late 70s. But when she was newly married back during World War II, she had to work, even though my grandfather was classified 4F. Such is the case when for many years, black men were not able to get good enough jobs to support a family by themselves. These days, it may be a combination of feminism, tradition, a desire for the fufillment work brings and the fact that a lot of men do not seem to want wives who don't work, especially since most people believe it takes two incomes to have a lifestyle consistent with the 'American Dream.' But that's another category, isn't it? POSTED 4/12/00
Miranda, New York, NY, United States, 30, Female, Unitarian, African/Irish/Cherokee-American, Straight, Coordinator, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 452000122044

Many people have the idea that women did not work outside the home except in the last few decades. This is not true, especially among women of color. The fact is that the wages for black, Mexican and Asian men were much lower than those for white men. White men had more educational oportunitues and opportunities for advancement in their jobs than men of color, and could better support their families financially. Women of color have always worked because it was necessary for the financial survival of the family. Who do you think cleaned the wealthy and upper-middle class white women's houses and took care of their children?
POSTED 4/12/00
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 411200052935

There are a multitude of reasons why there are not that many female African-American homemakers. Some of it is feminism, but it is mostly economic. Most black males balk at the suggestion - they simply can't afford it or don't want to. And, you have black women who absolutely refuse to stay at home while the man brings home the money (hopefully). In this country there is a strain between the sexes - black women here have always made more money than black men, so there is tension. There is a question of steady employment of black males, morals and more - the list can go on forever.
POSTED 4/12/00
Stephanie, Marietta, GA, United States, 30, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Technician, Middle class,Mesg ID 45200071534
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