Best of the Week
of April 18, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of April 18, 1999, as selected by Y? These
postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our 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. We encourage you 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 our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

THE QUESTION:
R653: In a society that portrays the black male as the epitome of serious violence and criminal activity, why isn't anyone publicly questioning the psyche of the white male? In light of the Columbine incident, does anyone dare ask what's going on with the white male? I'm looking at a pattern of violence here: The mass murder in the McDonald's in California, the Royal Oak post office shooting in Michigan, the Oklahoma City bombing and the string of school mass shootings. Tell me, how frequently has a black man been in the news for shooting up a restuarant, post office or school? Caveat: I am not indicting all white men.
POSTED APRIL 22, 1999
Zawadi, black female, 34
<aquarius9@hotmail.com>, Detoit, MI

ANSWER 1:
There is not the questioning of the white male psyche probably for two reasons. First, questions could lead to exposing the Big Lie about crime in America and the tyranny of parading blacks as the nation's only criminals while deflecting attention from the almost pathological criminality of whites. Magnifying black crime and de-emphasizing or apologizing for white crime leads many whites, young and old, to believe they are above the law and everyone else - that they can do no wrong, and that laws are intended to keep everybody else in check while exempting whites from such constraints. This, coupled with the white American male's almost demonic worship of the gun as his missing appendage, his great equalizer and his great enabler, are likely to ensure a continuing train of tragedies like that at Columbine.

Second, men tend to exhaust all stupid alternatives before doing what should have been done to begin with. Black crime and gun usage, mostly plaguing blacks, are largely associated with low-end drug activity. White crime and gun usage are ubiquitous and reflect a much deeper and more broadly damaging problem. This truth white America seems unwilling to face, so it continues to dissemble and pursue the stupid alternatives. Listening carefully to the NRA and other apologists sadly reflects how slow progress through these alternatives really is.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
Floyd L., 59, African-American male <
lastchild@worldnet.att.net>, Memphis, TN

FURTHER NOTICE:
I tend to disagree with Zawadi's assessment that "society" portrays the black male as the epitome of violence and criminal activity. Perhaps that's the way black males are portrayed in rap music, and in some movies, but most people know enough to realize that isn't real life.

It is also no more logical to assert there is a problem with the collective psyche of the white male than it would be to say that there is a problem with the collective psyche of the black male. Individuals commit crimes, not demographic groups. But if you want to talk about demographic statistics, black males are more than 16 times more likely statistically to commit crimes, and nearly 21 times more likely to commit violent crimes, than white males. Those figures are drawn from crime report statistics published by the FBI for calendar year 1997. Still, an individual has the power to choose what he or she does with his or her life. Face it - some people choose badly.

I don't think there's any benefit to trying to lay the blame on any demographic group when some nut-job decides to do something crazy like shooting up a school. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no vast conspiracy to blame blacks (or whites) for anything. There will always be idiots and psychos in the world. It's one of the prices we all pay for being in a country of many different kinds of people. And, for the record, last night's lead story on the 11 o'clock news here in Columbia was a shooting in a bowling alley, in which a black man gunned down three patrons. Nut-jobs come in all sizes, shapes and colors.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
Roger, white male, 36 <
HighCommander@iname.com>, Columbia , SC
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THE QUESTION:
R652: This week's events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Co., are a tragedy of the most horrid dimensions. My heart goes out to all the victims, their families, friends and their community. I can't help but wonder, however, given how race-focused we still are in this country, if the national shock, horror and outrage would be any different - more intense, perhaps? - if the shooters of the victims were non-white. What do you think?
POSTED APRIL 22, 1999
Wondering American, Washington, DC

ANSWER 1:
If the attackers were non-white, I think this would bring up a lot of racist fears among white people, but for the most part it would go unspoken, especially on the news. To do otherwise would upset the myth that we're all "equal" and that we judge others only on character and not by race. To me, an even more disturbing question is: If the shooting had taken place in a poor urban minority school, how would white Americans and the media react? Would white parents identify with the grieving parents as much? Would the media cover it the same way, as a national crisis, or would they dismiss it as an example of urban violence? I'm afraid many whites would fail to grieve for dead minority children as they grieve for dead white children, and would fail to see the incident as particularly relevent to their lives (except as further evidence that they should flee inner cities and move to nice suburbs, like Columbine).
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
Rhiannon, 28, white female <
rock0048@tc.umn.edu>
Minneapolis , MN

FURTHER NOTICE:
Of course it would be different. If the shooters were non-white (especially if they were black), it would be taken as evidence of the truth of the "violent black youth" myth that we hear about every day. But even more, imagine if this had not happened at a middle-class suburban school, but in an all-black and Hispanic inner-city school in Chicago or New York. There is no way the media would be treating it with the same level of attention they are now - and certainly not with anything approaching the sympathy. It would just be a bunch of "welfare parasites" killing each other off, anyway. If you don't believe me, just imagine how different things would be if JonBenet Ramsey had been a poor black girl instead of a rich white girl.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
Randy S., white male Atheist, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I think the question is hard to answer because nothing like that has ever happened. That teenagers caused such chaos is in itself shocking. I do believe, however, that the response would be different in the sense that hatred and outrage would be the prevalent feeling among the majority instead of the horror that's felt over the tragedy. Had the shooters been black, I'm sure many would say the massacre was done because those boys were seeking revenge for all those questionable police shootings of black males in the last month. The music and lifestyle of those boys would be questioned, and the fear that this may start a pattern among black high school teens would bring great fear into the American people. That this could happen in our town would be in most people's minds, instead of the mentality that "we never thought it would happen in this quiet, peaceful town." Again, because this has never happened before, it's really hard to say if the reaction would have been much different.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
Orleanas, 18, black <
orleanas1@yahoo.com>, Boston, MA
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THE QUESTION:
SO135: My wife and I made a surprise visit on my baby daughter, who lives in New York. We noticed this woman there who appears to be lesbian and also noticed things that suggested my daughter and this woman might be sexual partners. How do I ask my baby girl, Are you gay?

POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
W.J.F., male, <
williealice@yahoo.com>, TX

ANSWER 1:
If you ask the question, you must be prepared for the answer. So I ask you, does it really matter if she is a lesbian? Assuming she is, she has had feelings for women for years. Would your knowing change who she is or how you should treat her? Of course not, she is the same person she was before your suspicions were aroused. Should you ask her? My feelings are that she will tell you and your wife when she is ready, but you could make that a lot easier by showing tolerance toward diversity in all shapes and forms. When talking to her, show opened-mindedness toward the differences shared by people and tolerance of those whose beliefs you don't necessarily share.

There are some great organizations available to you and your wife to help you deal with the issues you may have as the parents of a gay or lesbian child. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great organization that can provide group support and information on resources available to help you understand those issues. Above all, she is your daughter and you obviously love her, so tell her that no matter what, you will always love her and respect who she is.
POSTED APRIL 22, 1999
Racerrat, 36, gay white male <
ransom4u@iadfw.net>, Dallas , TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
I have compassion for your situation. Still, even though your daughter is your "baby girl," it appears she is a grown woman who has made many choices for herself. It may make it easier for you and for her, whatever her preferences are (sexual or otherwise), if you would admit to yourself, and to the world, that she is no longer a "baby" and someone who needs the paternalistic parenting she did when she was 12. She needs your love, she needs your support and she needs your respect.
POSTED APRIL 22, 1999
Jean, mother of a 20-year-old <
jeenerwaid@AOL.com>, Milwaukee , WI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
First, should it matter? Second, how old is your daughter? Isn't she an adult if she's living by herself in New York? New York is a crowded, expensive place to live. It is also a very diverse city. I would not jump to the conclusion that your daughter is gay because she has gay friends. And if she is gay, she may still be in the process of accepting it for herself. She may be dropping hints but not ready to come out to you. Give her time, let her be herself and love her for who she is, straight or gay.
POSTED APRIL 22, 1999
Human <
OneWanda@hotmail.com> New York, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Before you ask her anything, you need to ask yourself what you think/feel about any answer you may receive. From there, how will you treat her from that moment on? If you're clear and honest with yourself, you will be able to be the same with her. I'm a "Daddy's girl" from Alabama, so I know the bond you feel. The fear of losing that is overwhelming if you've ever been cherished that deeply. She may be facing that fear right now. Don't let her answer fray that bond if she is lesbian and you need time to understand. Maybe she just never knew how to bring it up. Give her the opening and don't slam any doors you can't open again. How to ask: "I (we) love you..." Then you say, "Baby (or whatever pet name you use for her), is there something you want to tell me (us)?" I hope this helps. I have children of my own and may have one of these conversations ahead of me. When in doubt, just love them.
POSTED APRIL 22, 1999
Vanessa, 37, white female, mom, FL
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THE QUESTION:
R651: It seems like every year there is an award-winning, major motion picture depicting the Holocaust. Why does this historic event get so much more exposure than other atrocities against various ethnic and racial groups in history, namely enslaved African Americans?
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
J. Stewart, 34, African-American female, Houston, TX

ANSWER 1:
I guess the same question could be asked about why movies have not been made about the attempted genocide of Native Americans at the hands of Europeans. I think currently more emphasis is placed on the Holocaust because this event happened within living memory and there are people still alive today who were directly involved with this tragedy. We have massive archives of pictures, documents and films available which detail the atrocities of this time. In the cases of both African-Americans and Native Americans, very few pictures and no films survive of the atrocities visited upon them. The main archival material that we have of this time is the testimonials that were taken from survivors in the early parts of this century. And these are extremely rare.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
M. Kemper, 30, Irish-American female of Native American descent,<
kemper1@gte.net>, Tampa , FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
Consider the following titles: "The Color Purple," "Amistad," "Beloved" "Roots" - and its sequels - "Rosewood," "Ghosts of the Mississippi," "X," "Mississippi Burning," etc. All of these films were critically acclaimed and several won prestigious awards. There are more, but my memory has run dry. I would tend to believe the list of films depicting Afrocentric struggles far outnumbers the list of films depicting atrocities to other ethnicities, individually and/or possibly even combined.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
David, white male, 29 <
dash@netside.com>, Columbia , SC

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Well, if you think about it, the Holocaust occurred in another part of the world. One person is held primarily responsible: Adolf Hitler. It's probably an easier money maker for movie producers to make a German out to be a bad guy than a whole population of white Americans. It's uncomfortable for Americans to think of their ancestors to be as viscious as Germans were during the Holocaust. Movies are a representation of the culture in which they are produced. They can tell a lot about what the population is ready to accept and what the population fears. For instance, we have become much more accepting of Vietnam movies since the late 80's. Before this time, the American population was not ready to see on the big screen what really happened in Vietnam.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
Lissa, 26, white female <
blahcool@aol.com>, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
The Jewish people have refused to forget the persecution they have endured, from enslavement in Egypt to genocide in Europe. They have used their shared memory, always kept fresh (not only through mass media, but also through annual observances like the Passover seder), to give them a measure of security, a security they are ever vigilant to preserve. African-Americans, it seems, have developed a shared amnesia. If our parents and grandparents suffered the violence and indignity of the Jim Crow era, then why aren't we all well-versed in first-hand knowledge of the goings-on of those times? I recently saw several wonderful portrayals of the black struggle in America. How many blacks spent money and time to see films like "Beloved, or "Amistad?" How many tuned in to see recent PBS documentaries about Paul Robeson, or the slave trade (6-hour epic documentary "Africans in America")? Some of us grumble about the lack of portrayals of our struggles in this country, but how many of us actually support the fine films and documentaries that are produced, simply by taking the time to watch? Perhaps if we spent more time watching the aforementioned types of shows, instead of vegetating in front of hip-hop videos and black exploitation films (i.e. "Playa's Club," "I Got the Hookup"), we might see more constructive productions in the future.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
Sam; 31; male; brown American <
SamAlex67@aol.com>, Chicago, Il

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I can think of two award winning holocaust films: Schindler's List ( 1993, I think), and Life is Beautiful (1998). So, the 'every year' comment seems ill-considered, unless I am overlooking several more. Next, let's see: Roots, Amistad, Rosewood, Beloved, even Gone with the Wind come to mind with no great effort. Also, Dances with Wolves was a moving tribute to Native Americans and their mistreatment at white settlers' hands. All of the films mentioned above are powerful, some moreso than others. I am positive I am overlooking several more, too, and hope someone else can fill in the gaps. I'm sorry, but I don't buy what seems a short-sighted argument on your part.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1999
Kathryne, white southern girl, 28, Birmingham AL
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THE QUESTION:
SO134: Why does it seem that most male hairdressers, florists, entertainers, interior decorators and clothing designers are gay? Also, why do so many gay men seem to be into showtunes? Of course there are exceptions, but there really does seem to be some truth to those stereotypes.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
K., 20, straight white female <
gazelle_sunday@unforgettable.com>, Potsdam, NY
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THE QUESTION:
GD68: What do people feel is worse: Blatant racism, such as KKK rallies, or institutionalized racism, such as cops targeting/pulling over blacks, people thinking there will never be a black president, lack of jobs for minorities, worse schools for minorities, etc.

POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Skitherbud, San Diego, CA.
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THE QUESTION:
GE132: To men: Who is more attractive: A woman with a model's body but an ugly face, or an average-bodied woman with a pretty face?
POSTED APRIL 19, 1999
Sarah, 14, female, Los Angeles, CA

ANSWER 1:
I'm sure you will find that men have different tastes and definitions of beauty, but I must say from my own life experience I have found only one definition that captures what I feel is the explanation of a beautiful woman. It has little or nothing to do with size and shape, age or race. A beautiful woman seems comfortable with herself in the environment she is in and carries an aura of elegance and grace in her posture and movement. She is nurturing, intelligent, witty and self-controlled. She seems to hold a mystery that deepens as she grows older, and her uniqueness and beauty matures as each year passes. The feminine radiance of a womea flowers as she exhibits her natural character. This may not be what you wanted to hear, but I hope you find the wisdom of looking toward developing your inner beauty and avoiding the soul and self-esteem vacuum associated with marketed beauty.
POSTED APRIL 20, 1999
Dave, male <
gilstrap@ms13.hinet.net>, Taipei, Taiwan

FURTHER NOTICE:
Prepare your young self for a couple of revelations: Not all men find a "model's body" the ideal. Also, never forget that one man's ugly will be another man's gorgeous. I hope that you, as a young woman, are able to accept your own beauty, and are not judging yourself or other women by an arbitrary standard (one that seems to be created and maintained largely by men who aren't even attracted to women). That said, I guess I'm greedy. I refused to settle, so I married a woman with both a beautiful face and fabulous body, and I didn't wait for Hollywood's approval.
POSTED APRIL 20, 1999
Sam, 31, male, brown American <
SamAlex67@aol.com>, Chicago , Il

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I find the eyes the most important part of a woman's physical appeal. Therefore, I'd have to say the face is more important than the body. And concerning the body, I've always favored the Rubenesque ideal.
POSTED APRIL 20, 1999
Zach S., 20, white male <
nizrael@hotmail.com>, Terre Haute , IN

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I find a girl's face is more important than her body, as I try to spend some time actually talking to the girl , which means looking at her face and, gasp, making eye contact, a revolutionary conecept, it seems. That means I am not spending all my time staring at her chest. On the other hand, one of my friends who is just into the physical thing could not even tell you what color a girl's hair is until he sees the girl without her pants on.
POSTED APRIL 20, 1999
15-year-old male <
magic_user@email.com>, Philadelphia , PA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Of the choices you presented, I'd pick the woman with the average body and the pretty face. But even more attractive is a woman with a sharp wit and self-confidence.
POSTED APRIL 20, 1999
Andrew, 35, married <
ziptron@start.com.au>, Huntington , NY

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Body wins the first glance but is fleeting, face attracts longer, personality wins - by a mile.
POSTED APRIL 20, 1999
Steve, male, TX
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THE QUESTION:
R650: I deliver pizza and subs part-time and noticed that blacks almost never tip. Why? The others where I work say the same thing. Are there others out there who notice this?
POSTED APRIL 19, 1999
Patrick W., 31, Irish American, male <
pwalsh@bellsouth.net> Orlando, FL

ANSWER 1:
Probably for the same reasons you may not have tipped in the past, or for the same reasons many (not all, as you imply about blacks) other whites, Asians, Latinos, etc. do not tip. Do you deliver to a community where a take-out meal may be a luxury for some who may not be able to afford a tip? Do no blacks ever tip you? What kind of service are you giving? Do you treat your customers, no matter what ethnicity, with respect, courtesy and timeliness deserving of a tip? Have you ever asked your customers why they don't tip? Do you ever encounter non-black customers who don't tip regularly? Perhaps many of your customers believe a tip is included in their bill; have you explained to them otherwise?
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Michael, 34, black, male, always a generous tipper <
mimann@erols.com>, Fairfax, VA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I have been in the pizza business about six years now, and you are correct. Taking it a step further, Hispanics are far worse when it comes to tipping. Is it not part of their culture? The best tippers will always be fellow tip-getters, i.e. bartenders and waitresses. But a delivery driver always knows he/she is in trouble when a Hispanic youth comes to the door at a trailer park!
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Dan B., 26, white male <
MookieB21@aol.com>. Tucson, AZ

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I don't know about all black people, but I think people don't automatically deserve a tip. Delivery is a service offered by the company, and I don't have to tip anyone. But I do tip, mostly people who try to be nice or try to go beyond the call of duty (i.e." How are you today?", "I hope you enjoy your food," etc.). If you run up to my door and hold out you hand, you most likely won't be tipped. I also worked for Dominos when I was 18, and I never noticed that black people didn't tip, but I also never noticed that white people did. I was just thankful for the tip, whoever it came from, and anyone who didn't tip, I assumed they couldnt afford to.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Kyle, 30, black male <
kyllr2v231@aol.com>, San Francisco, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
My brother worked in the food service industry for years. He said blacks almost never tipped, were very demanding and hard to please.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Pat, 44, white female, GrandRapids, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I do not tip for two reasons: 1) If the service was not satisfactory, or 2) If I have already spent a lot of money and cannot spare more. Why do people have to tip even if the service was lousy?
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Ify, black girl 21 <
ifebigh77@hotmail.com>, Miami, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I have noticed this in several instances as a waitress, though there are also many more instances where white people tip horribly or not at all. I think it is easier to notice when minorities don't tip because they are minorities, and therefore we come into contact with fewer of them.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Kate, 24, female, Dorchester, MA

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I worked several delivery jobs and noticed almost the opposite of what you say. Blacks and Latinos would generally tip well, Anglos would tip poorly, if at all, unless they were female office workers or blue-collar males. From this I concluded it was both a class and an experience thing. People who might have had delivery jobs or know friends and family who did that tip better than those who don't or haven't.
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian, San Antonio , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I always tip, so there! (sticking my tongue out at you)
Tipper Goore, black female, tired of stereotypes, Baltimore , MD
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THE QUESTION:
R376: Why are Asian male/white female couples much rarer than Asian female/white male couples? And why does one hardly ever see an Asian male/black female couple?
POSTED JULY 17, 1998
Julie B., 25, white <
bouzoun@mri.jhu.edu>, Baltimore, MD

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
Asian males are almost non-existent in the American media, and when they are depicted, it's as a screaming karate stereotype or in some other unappealing manner. You also cannot understate the effect of the last three wars on the psyche of people in this country. Asians are the only race that ever had nuclear weapons used against them. Those weapons were also seriously considered for use in Korea and Vietnam. Yet the courage of the Asian fighting man is always portrayed as fanaticism. The bitter pill of the most powerful country in the world not being able to win non-nuclear land wars in Asia leads to the portrayal of Asian males as less than other races - this is why the need to emasculate Asian males with this absurd notion that we all have small penises. This is what is comfortable to Americans, even though Asians also fought on our side in all those wars. Women do not want to be seen as settling for a man who is the subject of ridicule.
POSTED APRIL 19, 1999
Mick, Korean American, male, Dover, NH

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
I've seen a lot of evidence of African female/Asian male couples while working with the family photographs of those who have moved to North America from the Caribbean. There is a large Asian poplulation there, and from what I can tell an historical lack of societal restrictions or pressures keeping these people apart. I've met many Afro-Asian people here in Toronto.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
W. Mark D., male <
carlduffy@yahoo.com>, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 11:
Most interracial couples consist of a white female and minority male. The reason for this is that white females are not satisfied with white males.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Jodie S., white female, Helsinki, Finland

FURTHER NOTICE 12:
Asian men are sexy! I know plenty of women who fancy Asian men. Not every woman likes a hairy chest. Basically, a good looking guy, no matter what his genetic background, always has an easier time with women. From my experience in dating a Japanese man, I think such couples can encounter subtle opposition from families and friends. You may notice that your date Kenny gets a better reception then Kenji did. Nothing too overt or nasty of course, but as a result I think you need stronger commitment than most in order to succeed as a couple. I also agree that media sterotypes are very narrow.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Luc, female <
luci88@yahoo.com>, Melbourne, FL
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THE QUESTION:
RE151: Here in Austin, the Church of Scientology seems to recruit more heavily than most other churches. I often find fliers from them on my car, and members have approached me when I pass their building to invite me to come inside and take a "free personality test" or watch a movie about their religion. Why is this?
POSTED APRIL 17, 1999
S.R, white female, 21, Austin, TX
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THE QUESTION:
R647: Why does it seem that many First Nations people (natives) speak very slowly?

POSTED APRIL 13, 1999
C.P., 21, white female, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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