Best of the Week
of April 21, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of April 21, 2002, as selected by Y? Thesepostings, 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.

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Question:

Last year I married a wonderful, warm, emotional, sensual Italian male who has been in this country 11 years. Sex is the best I've ever had - as long as it's his idea. Luckily, he gets the idea fairly often. But if I try to start something, chances are 80 to 90 percent he will not be able to maintain an erection. Is this a cultural difference, or just my husband? Are all Italian males uncomfortable with sexual expectations that come from the woman?

POSTED 4/22/2002

Kathy, Cincinnati, OH, United States, 46, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, writer, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 411200215725

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Question:

Many Indians (natives of India) in my workplace have a musty or sweaty 'armpit' type of odor. Often the smell starts from the very beginning of the workday, so I cannot attribute it to normal perspiration from daily activity. Is it a cultural thing not to bathe daily or wear deodorant? Is it something considered acceptable or normal in the Indian culture? Or are there ritualistic/religious reasons for this? Is it a socioeconomic/class thing, perhaps? Or is it just an individual thing resulting from a lack of proper hygiene instruction? Do these people not realize they smell (I can't see how, because it is obvious to everyone else), or do they just not care? Should I tell them? By no means am I saying all Indians smell like this - there are very many Indian men who never smell foul and wear cologne, etc., but I have encountered this enough to provoke the question.

POSTED 4/22/2002

Jen, Red Bank, NJ, United States, 31, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Consulting, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 4202002104756

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Question:

Why is it that whenever a minority is hired for any job besides janitor, fast food worker, maid or traditional black-only jobs, reverse discrimination is hollered? Does this mean that whites feel the only jobs minorities deserve are low-paying, and that anything other than that is discrimination?

POSTED 4/22/2002

S., Birmingham, AL, United States, 23, Female, Baptist, black/caucasion, Straight, Professional Student, Middle class, Mesg ID 42200230003

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Question:

Why do black people have only black, coarse hair? Never have I seen a black person with naturally light-colored hair, or fine, smooth hair. White people have blondes, brunettes, redheads and black-haired people. Why don't black people have different-colored hair, with different textures?

POSTED 4/19/2002

Taryn, Everson, WA, United States, 16, Female, Christian, Dutch, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 416200220145


Responses:
First, there is some diversity in Africa in looks. I agree that with Europeans there is a lot of diversity in hair and eye color. Diversity exists among Africans, too, but not to that extent. Black hair, just like skin, gets its color from an excess of melanin. The coarse hair acts like a carpet to protect Africans living in the hot Savanah, hence protecting overheating of the brain. Coarse hair provides better ventilation. The melanin also protects from excessive ultraviolet rays, and the black color also provides camouflage in the dark rainforests of subsaharan Africa. Now let's consider Europeans: They evolved in the harsh north. In those days, the world was in the grip of the Ice Age, and most of Eurasia had conditions like Northern Alaska. A person with a lot of melanin would not get a lot of UV rays, thus hampering Vitamin D production in the gloomy, cloudy climates in Europe. Hence, such people would develop weakness in the bones and die out. This is proved by the large number of cases of rickets in children of Africans and some dark Asians in Northern European countries. Hence the drive here would have been toward having all types of fairer skin and wavy-straight hair. Besides, white skin and fair hair would provide camouflage in the snowy background, proving advantageous for Europeans in hunting game and also preventing attacks from animals like wolves, bears, sabre-tooth tigers etc. Just like white skin is better in preventing frostbite, black skin is advantageous in preventing sunburns. East Asians evolved in frigid Eurasia, too. But their genes handled the cold in a different way. Instead of growing white, they developed a short stature, thus preventing loss of heat from the body, because less skin area would be exposed. Some scientists believe that because Nordics actually evolved in Central Asia, blond hair might have helped in the camouflage effect in the dried, hay-colored backgrounds of the grasslands of the southern Urals-Black sea area. So you see, it's all a matter of evolution shaping the looks due to environmental conditions.

POSTED 4/22/2002

Abdul A., Cairo, NA, Egypt, 34, Male, Muslim, Middle-Eastern, Straight, Professor, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 421200271231


Actually, with African Americans you see a wide range of hair textures and colors. Most of us have some white blood, and many of us have some Native American blood (I have some of both). This is the same reason our skin tones and textures vary so much.

POSTED 4/22/2002

Wayne C., Parsippany, NJ, United States, 41, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Marketing, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 422200255828


How about Asians? Arabs? Native Americans? Eskimos? Australian Aborigines? They all only have natural black hair (not to mention brown eyes). Sounds like we whites are the odd ones out on hair (and eye) color, not blacks. As for textures: Asians, Eskimos and American Indians only have straight hair, though Arabs, Aussie natives and South and East Indians vary a little in texture. As far as why: Geography is my best guess, but that explains little, especially the color issue.

POSTED 4/22/2002

Ridley S., Chambersburg, PA, United States, 22, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 422200274712


That's the way God made us. Just the same way Asians have only straight, black hair, or whites have light skin and narrow features. The hair is coarse because blacks originally came from Africa, and our physical characteristics had to adjust to the hot weather. There are blacks who have hair that isn't short, coarse or black, and that is because they are mixed with another race(s) somewhere in their family. For example, my hair is dark brown, gets reddish in the sun and is long and curly (not kinky). There is nothing inherently inferior about kinky hair. It's just different, the way every person on this planet is.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Joann, New York, NY, United States, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 419200240255


Hair protects the head from the elements. Frizzy/coarse/dark hair protects the head from strong sun (i.e. in Africa, Middle East, etc.), and smooth/light-colored hair does the opposite by allowing as much sunlight where there may be little available (i.e. in Norway, Sweden, Northern Europe,etc.). Black people originate from very hot places and need the protection their hair provides, whereas white people are from hot and cold places (i.e. Greece/Russia) and so their hair varies according to the climate of their origin. As with eye color, skin color, shape of eyes, height and level of body fat, it's all part of the evolutionary process that makes people more 'fit' for the conditions in which they live.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Jay, New York, NY, United States, Female, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 423200290107


Why do you not ask the same question about Asians or Hispanics? By the way, most black people have dark brown eyes and hair, not black. Caucasians are the only race with varied hair colors.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Redeemed One, Newport News, VA, United States, 53, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 4232002111445


It's because the artificial demographic 'white' is composed of Saxon people with Saxon features, Germanic people with Germanic features, etc.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Benny, Lablanc, AZ, United States, 65, Male, White/Caucasian, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 424200294418


Black people come in every shade, and have all kinds of hair colors, textures and styles. Also eye and skin color is varied. I'm not even talking about the folks who color their hair or wear colored lenses!

POSTED 4/25/2002

Samm B., Boston, MA, United States, 37, Female, New Age/Metaphysical, Black/African American, Straight, artist, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 424200211839

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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


Responses:
I'm a school teacher and my father was a postal worker. There is a grain of truth to the stereotypes. Most civil service jobs require a test. Jobs like teachers require a college degree and license. If you get the highest score, you get the job. If person who is antisocial gets a high score on a civil service exam, he/she can get a job in customer service. Government jobs also offer strong job security. You cannot be fired easily. This is supposed to ensure you got the job because you're qualified, not because of your uncle's influence. Strong job security makes sure you can do your job without being influenced by others. Does this system protect boneheads who are lazy and incompetent? Yes. I've met a couple of bad teachers who could not be fired because of tenure. All the principal could do was assign something outside the classroom. My father also has similar stories. Most government workers strive to do a good job, but you know the saying about one bad apple.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Steve, New York, NY, United States, 28, Male, African Methodist Episcopalian, Black/African American, Straight, teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 42200245332


I think many people feel this way, because (particulary here in mostly-white Minnesota) the people they see working in the government offices are more diverse (minority or disabled) than their co-workers at non-governmental jobs. They carry over their bias against these people and assume they are less-desirable employees and would not have a job if the government didn't give them this handout. Concerning the idea that they are rude, in my experience, government employees are allowed to be much ruder to citizens/customers than workers in the private sector who would lose their job over bad behavior. An effect of unions?

POSTED 4/4/2002

Thora, St. Paul, MN, United States, 33, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, database programmer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 422002113557


I was a civil service (government) employee for 15 years, six of those as a union steward. I can tell you that many government employees work long hours, sacrifice family time and work in far less than glamorous conditions to do an outstanding job. Unfortunately, there are a number of employees who call in sick every Monday and Friday, do substandard (or worse) work, file grievances at the smallest inconvenience and are verbally abusive to everyone they come in contact with. Those knotheads are the reason the stereotype you mention is alive and well. They are also the reason so much government work is now being contracted out.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Alma, Kempner, TX, United States, 48, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, education, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 422002123840


My sister is an undersecretary to the Department of something in DC. I have heard her stories. It isn't that government employees are lazy, it's just that whole departments have no competition and no profit motive, and therefore no reason to be efficient. Huge amounts of energy are spent in turf wars between departments within the same agency or between agencies to get the Congressional budget lottery. I don't think it is the average employee's fault; afterall, if you can gravy train it, why not. It is a management system problem.

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 42200211458


Prior to coming back to journalism, I worked in management in a government agency and found most of those stereotypes to contain kernels of truth. Government work generally pays less than its private-sector counterparts. This doesn't necessarily make employees lazy, but instead attracts people not motivated by money. This leaves personal satisfaction or love of society their sole motivation. After a short time of working for the public as 'servants,' they lose that motivation. The public is rude, mean and generally uninformed about the role of government. Once the person has no motivation to 'serve' the ungrateful public, and they're safe in their job by seniority, they fit those stereotypes. The flip side to this phenomenon is that, in my opinion, it's the lazy, dumb and/or rude public that makes these people respond in that manner. Imagine a time when you went to a government agency. You were probably not in a good mood anyway, depending on the agency, and you wanted out as quickly as possible. You demanded answers to questions such as 'Why do I have to have a photo ID with that?' or 'Why do I have to fill out this form?' or 'Why can't you process that in less than 24 hours?' While this was the first time you had EVER acted in this manner, it was probably the 100th time the employee had dealt with a similar person.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Brian, Peru, IN, United States, 26, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, journalism, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 42200283317


Having spent three years working in a county hospital and three years working for municipal government, I can't say I believe government employees are lazy, dumb or rude. Although working in these environments put me in the position of dealing with brutal politics on the part of clerical staff (upper management was pretty clean), people could be dedicated, helpful to the public and perhaps disappointed that they did not go on to higher levels of education. I saw a lot of sadness in my fellow government employees. A lot of boredom. A lot of people who made career choices based on security rather than interest or talent. However, in general, there are three areas that may influence the way government employees are perceived: 1) I have heard that the less an organization depends on customers, the more politics you will find. 2) Government employees do their work on budgets that are miniscule compared to what you'd find in the private sector. 3) Government employees make an average of half the salary they would in the private sector. Maybe the best and brightest move on?

POSTED 4/4/2002

Mary, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 40, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, administrative, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 44200222145


Being an employee of the government, I can say there are some very dedicated workers in the government, and some lazy ones who are waiting for their pension. Becaue there is a less-strict work environment and the focus isn't on production of a good as private industry might have it, there is need of greater personal integrity. Supervisors are less likely to clamp down on their unproductive workers. On the whole, the environment is great because a person can grow in the area of his or her interest, be it science, accounting or business skills. In an environment requiring personal integrity, some people thrive, while others take advantage of the system.

POSTED 4/15/2002

Ronald V., Edmonton, Alberta, NA, Canada, Male, Mesg ID 4152002113110


I have yet to visit the DMV, post office, etc. without dealing with rude, obnoxious, unpleasant and unhelpful staff. Maybe those kinds of jobs are unpleasant to do, or maybe there are little educational requirements and the government kind of gets the worst of society. I've been in other countries and government employees are very helpful and friendly, so it seems to be a US thing.

POSTED 4/22/2002

Jay, New York, NY, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 49200260717


As a British government employee, I'd like to know the answer to this one, as we have the same stereotype here, too. There was a time when the British Civil Service was overstaffed, but that's not the case anymore. Maybe the once (partly) accurate view of bowler-hatted gentlemen spending their days drinking endless cups of tea has just stuck. The British Civil Service has a very high proportion of Oxbridge graduates, so we're certainly not stupid as a bunch. However, having worked in a job that had contact with the public, I can see how we can get the reputation for being rude. The public come in already hating us before they've even met us, and of course we react accordingly - we're only human. Everyone also seems to think that the law should be written to suit their particular circumstance, never mind how it might affect other people. They never stop to think that when they say they can name 10 people who lose out from one particular policy, we can name several thousand who benefit from it. I've had friends who say they're appalled by the 'easy time' I have at work, but as soon as I suggest they come and join me, they say, 'low pay and poor conditions - no thanks!' Just about says it all, doesn't it?

POSTED 4/22/2002

Gellybean, London, NA, United Kingdom, 35, Female, White/Caucasian, Government employee, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 415200224319

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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


Responses:
Don't you hate that? I'm betting, though, that for every twit who labels you 'unsympathetic,' 'uncooperative' or 'not a team player,' there's someone who sympathizes with your predicament but who's keeping her mouth shut to stay out of it. It depends on how big your office is, but my strategy is to look very busy when these annoying people come by. You can "mhmhh" sympathetically but distractedly before you pick up the phone to make a business call or you can jump in surprise in the middle of her conversation, 'Ohmygoshiforgottoaskthebosssomething,' and split. Why do people do this? I don't know, but I know it's not just women. Some are just arrogant; they think they're the center of the universe and everyone else should think so, too. Some are superficial and look for friends in everyone they see. Some are lonely, and I believe it's important in a karmic sense to have compassion for these, but after all, you are at work. Why should you be discussing people's personal lives on work time? Especially if you don't want to. I'm hoping it's not the boss 'labeling' you and that it's the twits themselves.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Amber, Barrow, AZ, United States, 29, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 44200231502


I understand your dilemma completely. By choice I work for pretty much exclusively an all-white male company in a predominantly all-white industry - building products/construction. I also moved to a medium-sized city in Georgia. I'm a native Texan. Not only am I the first woman, but the first black in a management position, although I don't have any direct reports. I was in a high-pressure blue chip corporate environment and decided to simplify and drop salary for a less-stressful work environment so I could focus more on family (just me and my husband at this point). Anyway, I am in what most would call a small 'redneck' town, and everybody knows everybody's business. At first I tried being friendly with everyone, and it was clear they were uncomfortable. I wasn't telling my business, just talking generalities and 'nice -ities.' Clearly you are not in the 'in' crowd unless folks know how much money you got, what kind of house you are living in, etc. Bottom line, anyone asking these questions is trying to get in your business. There are all sorts of ways to try to build a friendly relationship with someone without asking personal questions. I prefer to keep my personal business out of my working environment as much as possible. I would not tell anyone at my job - I don't care how friendly they are - anything I wouldn't want everybody in the plant knowing about. I socialize within the boundaries of the work, but as far as lunch and outside activities, I choose not to participate. Since I have a full spiritual life with God and my church family, and a rewarding relationship with my husband, I'm not missing much.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Calm, Augusta, GA, United States, 34, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 412200291714

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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


Responses:
I have to agree with you. There is no need to have separation. I am a mix of four different races, so I usally check the 'other' box.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Hollie, Ft. Riley, KS, United States, 28, Female, Baptist, Black/Indian/Irish/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 432002111732


It's easy to say 'get over it' when you don't have to deal with all of the negativety that comes with being a person of color. Does anyone know how many roles Halle Berry may have been refused because she wasn't white? No, you don't. If she wants to consider it a triumph for black women, who is anyone to say differently? Race seems to matter when I 'fit the description' of a criminal or I'm stopped in my car for 'driving while black' or can't get a cab, but it's a crime when we don't acknowledge all of humanity when accepting awards. I wonder how many times Jesse Owens was called the N-word before he won the Olympics. After that he was a great American. Things like that just make me laugh.

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 432002123309


Why is it even an issue to so many whites that she is half-white? Why is it that a black man can win, but if a black woman wins or a woman who looks black wins, society is so offended that they would ask questions such as yours? First, most blacks are mixed. My mother is only about a quarter black, but because she looks black (even though she is much lighter than Halle), society has always treated her as black - and more importantly, just like Halle and so many other 'mixed blacks,' they FEEL black. Even if there was no racism to make them choose one race, I believe people such as Halle and my mother would still define themselves as black, because usually black genes dominate, and so these people look like other black people. Get it? You say classification is divisive and sad. What's sad is that it's needed to ensure equality. As for your friend, just like Halle and my mother, she or he should define themselves however they like.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Alea, New York, NY, United States, 22, Female, Christian, Straight, Mesg ID 43200272331


What you are suggesting has been tried by quite a few individuals of mixed heritage (especially with those who are half black half something else). Tiger Woods is one example that comes to mind. People do not accept this, because if your features look more black, then you are black; it doesn't matter what you are mixed with. And it is not blacks who are to blame for this; it is whites, because THEY are the ones who feel the need for a categorization of races. With this categorization, there can be no in-between -- you are either one or the other. And because blacks for the most part have the strongest genes in comparison to other groups, when they mix with a non-black, the child is going to look more black by white standards. This is why people like Halle Berry are more likely to check 'African American' than 'white' or 'other.' As far as the term African American, I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, it is the only term that gives us some identity (unlike 'black,' which is more negative). I mean, African is what we, are isn't it? We may not have been born there, but most of black America's ancestry originated from Africa.

POSTED 4/4/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 442002114453


In the United States, historically, if someone had any 'black blood,' they were considered black. And we accept them. In the past, no one else would. Your friend who looks white but is really mixed would be considered black. In fact, this was coded into most (if not all) states laws. Furthermore, if they had any 'black blood' but looked white and claimed to be white, but were discovered to have a black relative, they were severely persecuted. Terms like 'Mulatto' and 'Octoroon' were terms created by whites in the United States to further classify and divide blacks among themselves. Only recently has someone like your 'mixed' friend had the luxury of claiming they are white when they have a mixed ancestry.

POSTED 4/8/2002

Wayne C, Parsippany, NJ, United States, 41, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Marketing, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 482002114416


I wonder about this, too: if a person is a mixed racial heritage, and one of the those is white, the 'white' designation is dropped. To me, this reminds me of how racial classifications were designated during the times of slavery and after, where if a person had one drop of black blood they were considered black. It seems that to ignore one's white racial heritage when one is multiple is to acquiesce to this racist standard. Maybe 'African-Caucasian' would make an interesting ethnic tag.

POSTED 4/22/2002

Teresa, Austin, TX, United States, 42, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 420200292040


The reason I refer to myself as an African American is that I refuse to let the wider American society strip me of my identity. As long as I can remember, I have heard people say that 'we are all Americans' and such. But these are the same people who sneer when they imagine me dating their daughters, or cross to the other side of the street as I walk. Contrary to much opinion, we are not a melting pot. I will not label myself as black. Traditionally it denotes some sort of evil force. My people have had their identity torn from them. We became just 'black' while others were able to remain Italian, French or English. My being African American is a way to reidentify with my heritage, but on my terms. I will encourage my family to do the same. Until we are equal, you have chosen that I will be different.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Jeremy H., San Antonio, TX, United States, 30, Male, New Age/Metaphysical, African American, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 45200265719


'What exactly is an 'African American'? An African American is a black American of African ancestry. The Oxford English Dictionary contains evidence of the use of black with reference to African peoples as early as 1400, and the word has been in wide use in racial and ethnic contexts ever since. However, it was not until the late 1960s that black (or Black) gained its present status as a self-chosen ethnonym with strong connotations of racial pride, replacing the then-current Negro among blacks and non-blacks alike with remarkable speed. Equally significant is the degree to which Negro became discredited in the process, reflecting the profound changes taking place in the black community during the tumultuous years of the civil rights and Black Power movements. The recent success of 'African American' offers an interesting contrast in this regard. Though by no means a modern coinage, African American achieved sudden prominence at the end of the 1980s when several black leaders, including Jesse Jackson, championed it as an alternative ethnonym for Americans of African descent. The appeal of this term is obvious, alluding as it does not to skin color but to an ethnicity constructed of geography, history and culture, and it won rapid acceptance in the media alongside similar forms such as Asian American, Hispanic American and Italian American. Why does it matter? Most everyone cosiders nationality, heritage, culture, geography and history to be a part of their individual identities. Referring to ourselves as simply 'American' would severely belie these factors. Likewise, the title 'black' says only that: The bearer is 'black,' which is not even a fact for a very large portion of African Americans. In contrast, 'mulatto' is neither a race, nationality, geographic region, or history of any group of people, but rather a combination of African-American and another race - usually assumed to be Caucasian. You may also note that 'mulatto' is considered by many of mixed race to be a derogatory term, originating from the latin word for MULE, being the offspring of a horse (presumably the white parent) and a donkey (...). The term is becoming less and less acceptable in 'politically correct' society. Hope this answers your question.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Tania S., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 26, Female, Black/African American, Self-Employed, 2 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 4232002102743


I agree we should all get over it, but who is the 'we' you are referring to? You do understand that black people didn't make the 'rules' or the names and titles, we just have to live with them. Let me break it down like this: I am old enough to have been born 'colored', but then rapidly became 'negro,' which then became 'black,'and just when I was comfortable with that, I discovered I was African-American. Now I am confused because my mother has only called me by the name she gave me, and that is who I am. Until we get to the point where we can all be just who we are, there will always be titles enforced upon us all.

POSTED 4/25/2002

Serene, Chandler, AZ, United States, 43, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Self Employed, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 424200250421

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