Best of the Week
of April 26, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of April 26, 1998, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, 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:
R135: I've always wondered why it seems the majority of older Spanish/Mexican men gawk at females who walk by and even call out to them with lewd jestures and whistles. Are they easily turned on by females? I've often heard females say this about being called after, and I too, have encountered such problems frequently.
POSTED APRIL 1, 1998
J. Wu, 18, female, Asian <
ChinkGirl6@aol.com>
Lawrenceville, GA

ANSWER 1:
Historically, Spanish/Mexican males have cherished a tradition known as "machismo." This is a sign or a social symbol of manhood in their culture. This is according to my Gender/Ethnicity Sensitivity class in college.
POSTED APRIL 6, 1998
Carrie, 28, Mansfield, TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
I always understood it to be a cultural thing. This may be somewhat controversial, but I was once told by a friend who grew up in a mixed neighborhood to use the following rules when passing men on the street: Cast your eyes down when passing Hispanic men so they'll know you're a modest girl and not inviting any advances. Smile and nod when passing black men so they'll know you don't think yourself above them. Make brief eye contact and look confident when passing white men so they'll know you're not an easy target. I've actually followed this advice for years with good results.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
A. Morgan, white female, Houston
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THE QUESTION:
R200: Is it true that African Americans are incapable of bigotry, i.e. that this is a "white disease"?
POSTED APRIL 20, 1998
Curious female, Anchorage, Alaska

ANSWER 1:
Though some of us deny it, black people are just as capable of being racist as any other racial/ethnic group. Those who deny that black racism exists allege that racism requires access to power found in government and corporate America.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1998
Jay Boyd, black male <
jayboyd@ameritech.net>
Detroit

FURTHER NOTICE:
To Curious: That's what Spike Lee always says. I'm not so sure I believe it. Black people, I guess, are just as capable of bigotry and prejudice as anybody else. We are as susceptible to the same faults as other human beings. Here in America, we are the least likely to be in positions of power; therefore, we have the least opportunity to force bigotry onto others. Maybe that's why some people think African Americans are less prejudiced.
POSTED APRIL 24, 1998
Denise, 26, black, Bronx, N.Y.

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I often wonder about that. I know that through my experiences and the material I read (history, sociology, etc.) that I have become very untrustworthy and judgmental of white people. Blacks in this country have always been treated so badly and still are that it just makes me very angry to see the injustice and racism that plays out daily. I guess I don't consider myself a bigot, but tend to be prejudiced, which a lot of blacks won't admit. Hope that helps.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
T. Spencer <
auset2be@aol.com>, Largo, MD
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THE QUESTION:
O5: Is it acceptable to date someone you work with if you keep it professional at the office? Is it anyone's business what you do with your personal time outside the office?
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Stephanie P., 22 <
stephiep@hotmail.com>
Ann Arbor, MI

ANSWER 1:
There is no question that personal involvement does affect professional performance in the workplace. As an employer, I've had two instances in which relations between staff members blossomed and soured and consequently affected office atmosphere. I don't recommend office policies denying such behavior (doomed to fail because of human nature), but I do ask employees to inform the office of what is happening so the inevitiable can be factored in.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
F.J.B., South Africa <
fjb@poboxes.com>

FURTHER NOTICE:
Is it acceptable? Probably not, but it depends on your company's culture. Is it smart? Almost definitely not - especially if you value your job and your peace of mind. If you plan to move on and don't particularly need an enthusiastic reference, go ahead and have fun. Otherwise, think about any former relationships that have gone bad, and ask yourself how much you'd enjoy having to work with your exes now.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
A. Morgan, 33, Houston

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THE QUESTION:
R196: A question for African Americans: How common is it to hear the word "nigger" used as an intentional insult by non-African Americans? I hear the word occasionally, but never with an African American around.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Joseph, 35, white <
shaules@rikkyo.ac.jp>
Tokyo, Japan
(Director's Note: Because of the high interest we have received from people using Y? regarding the use and power of this word, we would be interested in hearing specific examples from African Americans (when answering the above question) of when this word has been used in front of you by a non-African American as an intentional insult. That is, describe the circumstances, why or how the person used the word, how you reacted, what thoughts or emotions you had, etc.)

ANSWER 1:
My husband was riding his bike when some white males in a car rode past, threw a bottle at him and said "nigger get a car." Of course that was cowardly of them, but these days people have more sense than to use that word to your face. Had they been face to face, there would have been a fight. It's that simple. Don't use the word.
POSTED APRIL 29, 1998
Black Female, N.C.

FURTHER NOTICE:
When we moved to Columbia, S.C., in 1989, our first day there my mom and I went to a convenience store to purchase some items for my new home. When we walked out the door, a group of white boys looked at my mom and called her a nigger. I was very angry, but my mom told me to ignore them and not respond because that would put me down to their level. It bothered me for a long time after. I have heard that word all my life and am raising my children never to use it. It is very painful and only causes fights.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
C. Lorick, 44 <
blackcherrie@yahoo.com>, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Generally, when "nigger" has been directed toward me or people with me, the situation is that we are physically in the minority. Specifically, we're at a "white" club, or maybe at an event with a predominantly white crowd. Me and a couple of friends were at a white club, and one of my friends was involved in a fight with another patron. After the fight, someone said, "Why can't you niggers stay at your own clubs and stop coming to ours causing problems?" My personal reaction to confrontations that involve being called "nigger" is more to laugh than to become angry. If that is the best (worst) insult that can be thrown at me, then I don't feel threatened. Anyone who uses the word as an insult is only showing their ignorance and lack of education.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
Sean C., 30, black male, Flint, MI

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THE QUESTION:
RE34: Many customs associated with holidays have their origins in pagan holidays and beliefs. Why do non-pagans seem to readily incorporate some pre-Christian customs (the Easter bunny, Easter eggs, Christmas trees, Yule logs, wassailing, Candlemas, Jack-o-Lanterns, trick-or-treating, May baskets, May poles, wheat weaving, corn dollies, etc.) while other pagan customs often engender fear or strong opposition (Goddess, pentagrams, tarot cards, balefires, chanting, covens, circle casting, dumb supper, sabbats, etc.)? I do not see this fear associated as much with the more unfamiliar customs of other minority religions in the United States. (Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, etc.) as with Wicca and Voudou (proper for "Voodoo").
POSTED APRIL 28, 1998
WitchWomon, Dianic witch <
WitchWomon@aol.com>
Southfield, MI

ANSWER 1:
I agree with you that Christians celebrating non-Christian festivals does seem weird, especially if they are so anti-paganism. I think a lot of it stems from not knowing the origins of these festivals or refusing to believe the truth about them (my grandparents, for example). However, I can see a big difference between the first list of pagan "accepted" traditions and most of the second list of "non-accepted" traditions. The accepted traditions are more to do with charms protecting yourself from evil, whereas the second list includes practices that are supposed to be able to cause things to happen - for either good or bad. I do have friends who are strict Christians and they don't celebrate Halloween, but I think they still celebrate Easter with eggs and rabbits!
POSTED APRIL 29, 1998
Beth, Edinburgh, UK

FURTHER NOTICE:
To WitchWomon: As a seminary student 20 years ago, I had the same questions. Then I found a book titled "Babylon Mystery Religion." It changed my whole outlook, beliefs and method of study concerning the Bible and modern traditions. As a result, I do not celebrate accepted modern "Christian" holidays.

Here is my reasoning: The Bible was written by Jews, living in Jewish communities, following Jewish customs and traditions. When I applied this line of thinking to my study of the Scripture, it changed my whole understanding of what was written down. Until the rule of Constantine the Roman emperor, early Christians followed Judaisam with the understanding that the Messiah had indeed come for their "atonement." Constantine made Christianity a state religion, but with his own traditions. Anyone found following Jewish traditions was killed. So early Christians found ways to identify their beliefs with pagan, e.g. Passover was switched for Easter.

My opinion is that they fully intended to go back to their original ways of worship when Constantine died, but as we see today, that never happened. Now, modern Christians so thoroughly identify with these holidays that it is nearly impossible to change. Coupled with the fact that we have so many fond memories of these holidays as children, to change would be painful, almost a betrayal to their families. I have a question for you: I was a little surprised to see that you (a proclaimed witch) identified non-pagans with Christians and non-Christians with pagans. Can you explain?
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Steve N., 40 <
blaster7@hotmail.com.>, Dallas

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I believe the answer to your question is stated in your question: The numerous holiday-related events/symbols aren't frightening because they have been "borrowed" into Christianity as a means of converting pagan peoples into Christianity. Other symbols - pentagrams, goddess, etc .- were both not assimilated into Christianity and were vehemently propagandized against in an effort to squelch "witchcraft" (Wiccan or otherwise). Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. were never serious opponents to then-new Christianity because of their distance from the European center, broadly defined.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Lilstar, Wiccan male, Huntington, WV

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I suspect it has nothing to do with the origin of the practice(s) and everything to do with marketing and the media. I lived in Japan for three years, where a majority of people follow the Buddhist or Shinto religions. Christmas is very big there - decorations and music and gift-giving, etc. (The life-sized statues of Col. Sanders outside the KFCs get dressed up as Santa). I don't know how this got started, but it is obviously not in a religious (e.g., Christian) context.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
D.M.S., female, 30, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I am a Christian and well aware of the pagan origins of the aforementioned holiday symbols. I couldn't care less about it because it is simply fun to celebrate in those fashions. My children get Easter baskets, go trick-or-treating and receive Christmas presents. So what?
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
J.R. <
exwob@aol.com>, Riverview, MI
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THE QUESTION:
GE17: What thought process does a woman go through when agreeing to have sex with a partner?
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Kurt S., Sydney, Australia

ANSWER 1:
There are so many factors in this decision. For young women, it is sadly often a question of "Will he continue to love me/stay with me if I don't?" Many of my high-school friends lost their virginity to high-pressure tactics, and I don't think any of them remember the boy or the experience fondly. Older or more self-confident women might be asking themselves, "Do I know him well enough? Do I trust him? Do I like him enough to want this level of intimacy? Does he turn me on? Am I happy with where our relationship is going? Does he care about me?" Hopefully, all women are asking themselves: "Is it safe? Am I as protected as possible?"
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
A. Morgan, Houston

FURTHER NOTICE:
It depends on two or three things: 1) how much have I had to drink, 2) what is the person's alleged sexual history and penis size, and 3) what type of career the person is currently in and what their career potential is. Women in my experience are as shallow as men when they want sex.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Deborah <
september273@hotmail.com>
Barrie, Ontario Canada
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THE QUESTION:
R188: Is it true that black people hoot and holler more at the movies than white people do?
POSTED APRIL 15, 1998
Yoinksta, 15, male, Greendale, WI

ANSWER 1:
Similar patterns of racial differences in vocalization can be seen in the context of worship. Northern Europeans tend to express their appreciation for a presentation (entertainment, worship, grief, etc.) in a quiet and demure fashion. Southern Europeans (those from warmer climates?) are more vociferous than their northern counterparts. Perhaps the warmer the clime and the darker the skin, the greater the immediate response to pleasure.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
M.P., Ann Arbor, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
To M.P.: Surely this is a matter of culture rather than race. To suggest that darker-skinned peoples from warmer climes are naturally more emotional or impulsive is offensive even to my light-skinned, cool-climed self.
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
A. Morgan, Houston

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I can safely answer this one from past encounters. Black folks do tend to make more noise in a movie theater than whites, but before anybody flies off the handle, let me qualify this by stating it is predominantly the lower classes in black society that do so. Upper- and middle-class blacks wouldn't dream of hooping and hollering in a theater any more than white folks. However, young blacks do make noise and do dance around when something excites them, and I will not choose to see a movie in which I expect a young black crowd, or a young white crowd really, to be in attendance. Call that racist, call that what you will. I feel it is simply a respect problem. These kids don't really care if you are trying to watch a film, and they feel the need to express themselves. Citing cultural reasons that stretch back a thousand years to Africa, as M.P. above did, is a bit far-fetched.
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
Truthseeker

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
At a Ziggy Marley concert, I experienced the loudest hooting and hollering I've ever heard. That was from the white people. But you will never hear me say that because of their color they have a "greater reaction" to pleasure. To Truthseeker: I agree with your statement completely. In New York City, some young blacks would bring and play their radios in the theater. I too would avoid the "youngsters" of any race if I want to enjoy a movie. It's not racism, it's just being smart.
POSTED APRIL 29, 1998
Jas, black, 42 <
themoas@aol.com>
Pensacola, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I think this is more about maturity, intelligence and respect for the people around you than it is about race. The individuals who hoot and holler in a theater during the movie come in a variety of colors.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Carly <
nova00007@aol.com>
Southfield, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I agree with the sentiments expressed by Truthseeker in reponse to (I admit) my tongue-in-cheek, inflammatory and frivolous comments made in Answer 1. I am somewhat saddened and perturbed that people get annoyed and personally insulted by sweeping generalizations. While many people fit generalizations made for the purpose of argument, many do not. As an Englishman of West Indian descent, born, raised and educated in England, I certainly do not fit the stereotype of "hooting and hollering at the movies"... or in church for that matter! Nevertheless, I have heard African Americans rationalize their choice of church or behavior at concerts, movies, etc., based on ethnic criteria. Nonsensical? Perhaps. But, human behavior is of necessity complex and influenced by a plethora of environmental, cultural and other nuances and cues. A more appropriate answer to my first answer should have been a resounding "Rubbish!" ... although I certainly appreciate the kind and more reasoned approach taken by "Truthseeker."
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
M.P., Ann Arbor, MI
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THE QUESTION: 
GE21: Why does it seem women are so infatuated with their bodies and general appearance? My female friends ask me my opinion about some aspect of their appearance, and then if I say they look fine, they disagree and ask until someone agrees they don't look fine. Also, it seems like they will base this opinion on what male society wants, but all the men they ask will say they look fine.
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
Marc, 20, male <
romarti@yahoo.com>
Atlanta, GA

ANSWER 1:
Women (and men as well) receive a lot of messages from the media about what is and is not acceptable about their bodies. Because the "acceptable" bodies presented in ads and entertainment are nowhere near average - usually slimmer, leggier and bustier - women fight long, often losing battles to be accepted. Those messages are passed along by the masses who consume them. Peer pressure - especially among adolescent girls - to achieve and maintain a perfect figure can be overwhelming. Have you ever ogled an attractive woman or made fun of an overweight or unattractive woman in front of a female friend? If so, you indirectly told your friend that a pleasing physical appearance merits approval. Unfortunately, even the assurances of a caring friend can't override years of messages that tell a woman she's not acceptable until she's perfect.
POSTED APRIL 29, 1998
Michelle G., white female, 27 <
ufinjax@aol.com>
Gainesville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
Women are conditioned throughout their lives to seek perfection in their personal appearance. (Note make-over magazine spreads and TV shows, the fashion industry, the cosmetic industry, pageants, etc.) Thus, there aren't only two states - looking OK and not looking OK. Instead, there's more of a continuum, and women are constantly striving to meet the standard at the highest end of the appearance continuum. An added complication is that the perfection standard changes constantly. To the extent women ask for advice on such matters, I can see how they would value advice from other women who are subject to the same influences rather than from men who may have trouble understanding. I don't have a good answer about how expectations for women are or are not set in part by men. I agree with Marc's comment that often men actually don't seem to care nearly as much as women think men do.
K.S., 27, female
Indianapolis, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Women are obsessed, not infatuated, with appearance because female appearance is so relentlessly focused upon in our culture. We are bombarded constantly by the message that the most important thing about us is how we look. This bombardment comes from television, magazines, movies, all forms of advertising, etc. It also comes from men, who compare us all the time. When you "rate" some woman's appearance, even in fun, you are participating in the kind of activity that furthers this attitude. I'm not saying we don't size you up based on appearance. I'm trying, instead, to describe our experience. If we are neurotic about how we look, it is because our culture encourages us from a very early age to obsess about it rather than encouraging us to develop our minds, hearts and character, which is the proper focus for developing human potential.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
J. Lemke <
j-lemke@ti.com>
Plano, Texas

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
What you are observing is not infatuation but the deep insecurity and shame felt by the majority of women who fail to meet the unrealistic standards imposed by magazines, television, the fashion industry, etc. Young women and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to this, and they are much harder on themselves than most men will ever be. This is truly a very painful issue for your friends, even the ones you consider pretty. Be kind to them, and keep reassuring them that their worth is not based on the whiteness of their smiles or the thinness of their thighs.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
A. Morgan, Houston

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Come on, women, let's admit that we do this to ourselves, too. How often do we criticize friends or strangers for how they look, even though we hate such criticism ourselves? We all need a change of attitude, not just men and the media.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
E.P. 25, female, Washington, D.C.

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THE QUESTION:
R175: I am a 15-year-old Native American male. Why is it that African Americans I know feel as if the world owes them something? All of my people's lands have been taken and abused, and the other Native Americans I know don't act half as mad at the world as blacks.
POSTED APRIL 13, 1998
Anishnabe, <
pantherdered@yahoo.com>
Near Ann Arbor, MI

ANSWER 1:
First, none of your ancestors were brought to this country against their will. Second, none died on those horrible slave ships and drowned during the voyages. Third, our women and children were raped and brutalized. Our men were hung from trees for something as silly as looking at a white woman. We built this country through free slave labor and have yet to be given reparations for our work, unlike other ethnic groups, such as Jews, for the Holocaust. It's obvious you've never seen footage of "Eyes On The Prize" or "Four Little Girls." Not yet have I heard any African Americans downplay the suffering and plight of Native Americans because we both have suffered at the hands of the Native European, yet you feel we're the ones upset, when we both should be at the 500 years of suffering we are still feeling the effects of.
POSTED APRIL 16, 1998
Charles W., black, Arlington, VA

FURTHER NOTICE:
The world does owe us something. It owes me the freedom to walk into a store without being followed around. It owes me the freedom to buy an expensive item without having my ability to pay for it being questioned. It owes black males the freedom to drive or walk down the street in peace without fear of police harassment or abuse. It owes black children decent schools. In fact, the world owes all of us; black, Native-American, Hispanic, Asian and white. It owes us the freedom to live our lives without prejudice, stereotypes and stigmas. I guess some of us choose to fight for that freedom more vehemently than others.
POSTED APRIL 16, 1998
Denise, 26, black, Bronx, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
To Charles W.: Contrary to what you believe, many other ethnic groups that have come to the United States did not do so voluntarily. Many were forced to flee their homelands because of tyrannical rulers. You don't think Europeans weren't killed for something as silly as poaching in the King's forest? Or maybe they were running from starvation. Whatever the reason our ancestors got here, it's in the distant past. As for reparations, don't you have to start at the beginning - which would be the Africans who captured black people and the Arabs who traded them?
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
B. Bachli, 38, white, Temperance, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
To B. Bachli: The one thing I've noticed in the whole slavery and reparations debate is white people's insistence on calling attention to the fact that blacks were sold into slavery by Africans. That is an acknowledged fact within the black community; a few West African leaders have even apologized to African Americans for this participation. While this fact is partially true (some slaves were kidnapped by Europeans who secretly went into the interior against African rulers' wishes), it still does not absolve European slave traders from culpability. It also does not even remotely explain the incredibly brutal treatment that was forced on Africans upon their arrival here in America and the Western Hemisphere. Let's not forget, European immigrants were free when they arrived here. Even those who were indentured servants were allowed to go free after a certain number of years. In my opinion, this is the root of the debate - our treatment here on these shores. America is the superpower it is today because of the tremendous economic benefits of more than 250 years of free labor and an additional century or so of low-cost labor. Some in the black community feel we should be paid back wages, not only for the free labor of the past, but also for the way African Americans are disproportionately impoverished in lieu of this country's economic supremacy. I have not decided how I feel about the issue, but I do think the debate is a valid one.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1998
Denise, 26, black, Bronx, N.Y.

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Virtually every civilization, from the Romans to the Greeks to the Mongols to the Chinese to Egyptians, Jews, Assyrians and Babylonians, practiced slavery and land acquisition. Even the American Indians raided each other's villages for horses, women and children. And what about blacks who owned slaves in America? And who invented slavery - the world's first humans, who evolved in Mesopotamia - Africans. Should Africans apologize to the world for inventing that institution? And where is the only place slavery still exists? The Sudan. And have African Americans apologized to Native Americans for their role in those people's extermination, or have they instead lauded the "Buffalo Soldiers" in film and literature? When African Americans pay Native Americans reparations, then they can ask me for money.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1998
Steve, Kan.

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
To Charles W.: Indians were forced from their own homelands - marched to reservations at gunpoint by the white government that wanted their land.

Indians were enslaved before blacks, by the Spanish who explored this country, starting with Columbus. They were forced to build the missions, which then forced the conversion of the Indians to Christianity. The absolute power of the explorers led to massacres and cruelties that fully equaled anything black slaves suffered.

By the way, in defense of European Americans, even in the time of Columbus, there were already sane voices protesting the horror and barbarity being practiced, just as there were all through the mistreatment of Indians and black slaves. Unfortunately (just as in present times), these people were ignored in favor of wealthy businessmen and governments who wanted to make as much money as possible by whatever means necessary.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1998
Colette, white <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>
Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I think all the cultures robbed, enslaved, murdered, stolen or stolen from should stop trying to say who suffered the most. As a person of mixed origin, the Cherokee and African heritage in me doesn't stop to point the finger and say, "I suffered more than you." I really think that in some ways we all have a lot of pain in our souls about slavery in the Americas. We cannot heal ourselves by pointing fingers at anybody but ourselves. We all have to own up to how messed-up slavery has rendered American culture. We cannot deny the past; it happened, we were all involved in some way. We have to make peace with our own pain and try to help each other heal. We should acknowledge the pain of other cultures, not ridicule it. (However, I think both African and Native Americans got the rawest parts of the deal.) We just have to learn from the past, teach ourselves forgiveness and grow beyond it. Just as a rape victim has to grow beyond the pain and trauma, so do those of us who were raped, robbed and destroyed as cultures. And those of us who were rapists, robbers and enslavers have to own up to what we did.
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
Carmela, 29, African American <
pecola@hotmail.com>
Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
To Steve from Kansas: African Americans without question participated in the wars against Native Americans. My ancestors were ignorant for doing so. In their zeal for full acceptance into American society, they were involved in many things they should not have been. But the relationship between Native Americans and African Americans is more complex than that. Many Native Americans were known to harbor runaway slaves. And it is a fact that a large portion, maybe even a majority, of black Americans have Native American blood or ancestry. Some blacks I know have entire sections of their family trees that are Native American. My maternal great-grandmother was one.

I do think your point of view was interesting and informative. However, we can all claim the invention of slavery, because, regardless of the races we are now, we are all descendants of those people in Mesopotamia. But when reparations are discussed by black people, they are talking about this country and the larger society's lack of acknowledgment of our role and contributions. I would challenge you to give the issue deeper thought. Members of every race have at some point willingly participated in discrimination against someone else. But regardless of who was involved in whose extermination or enslavement, the real issue is who reaped the benefits? Who has all the land, all the money and all the power?
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
Denise, 26, black, Bronx, N.Y.

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
To Steve from Kansas: Slavery was created in the area known today as the centeral region of Africa. Many people think African slavery and European slavery were the same. If you read Basil Davidson's books on African civilization, you will find that the system of "slavery" was vastly different than that of the European style. When Africans enslaved other Africans, they often maintained the same positions they had when they were free - if a general from one kingdom was captured by another, he kept his position because he was most useful to the kingdom he was captured by as such. When Europeans and Euro-Americans captured an African warrior, did they make him a warrior in his new world? No, he was made to perform back-breaking work in the fields and subjected to brutal treatment.
POSTED APRIL 29, 1998
Kara <
micheka@rocketmail.com>
Japan

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
The ancestors of a majority of white people in the United States came to this country after the Civil War. It would seem extreme to ask them to pay reparations for slavery. And even in the unpleasantness of the 1860s, there were two sides. My own ancestors arrived here from 1638 (Massachusetts) to 1918 (Michigan). The issue of slavery doesn't seem pertinent to me. Better we should worry about what happened after 1900 if we want to talk about reparations or who owes whom what. People in this country have been treated unjustly. We have yet to become what we can be. There are things that we may be able to do to address those injustices, but I don't think slavery is one of them.
POSTED APRIL 29, 1998
Chas. P., 54, white, Dayton, OH

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