Best of the Week
of May 2, 2004

Best of Week ArchivesArchives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 2, 2004, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s database using the search form , or, in the case of posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. You are encouraged to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.
 First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

 


Question:

Do white people's pubic hairs have the same color as their other hair?
POSTED 5/2/2004
Regal, Beijing, NA, China, Mesg ID 429200435941

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

It seems to me that some women want their boyfriends to be aggressive, or at least to have the potential for aggression. What do others think?
POSTED 5/2/2004
Martin L., Berlin, NA, Germany, 27, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Middle class, Mesg ID 422200464238

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

Do atheists always dislike seeing or hearing references to God, or only in certain situations, such as during the Pledge of Allegiance? Does the word 'God' on money anger atheists? If so, why?
POSTED 5/2/2004
Sam B., Sacramento, CA, United States, Female, Christian, Mesg ID 422200482837

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

A lot of Americans own firearms for personal protection (by this I mean against criminals, not wild animals). I don't own one, but I've tried using pistols at a firing range and can imagine the sense of power and security one must feel by having one. But I'm curious: do they really provide that power and security in an actual dangerous scenario, or do they make it even worse? I would love to hear from someone who has used or brandished a firearm against someone, and what effect it had.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Tor, Naestved, NA, Denmark, 25, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, anxiety attacks, unemployed, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 4272004112027

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

I am Chinese and have noticed that, in most cases, whites' faces are more beautiful than ours. But this is only my feeling; I want to know whether others, such as blacks, whites or Indians, have the same feeling. Also, do you think Chinese and Japanese faces are too plain or ugly?
POSTED 5/2/2004
Gu Li, Changchun, NA, China, <ligu95@126.com>, Asian, Mesg ID 4272004114257

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

I live in a suburban area just outside of Washington D.C., in Maryland. I constantly hear that there was substantial 'white flight' in the past as successful blacks moved in. Now the trend is reversing, and whenever I seea white face in the grocery store or on the bus in a black neighborhood, I think, 'What are you doing here? I thought white people didn't want to live among us blacks and immigrants. And when a white homeless person asks me for money, I think, 'I thought white people would never beg black people for anything. I thought you looked down on us too much for that.' I know my way of thinking is bad. What can people tell me to help me correct it?
POSTED 4/20/2004
Bella, Washington, DC, United States, 32, Female, Christian, Afro-Caribbean, Immigrant, Straight, Administrative Assistant, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 415200414231


Responses:
I really admire your moral courage. Few people dare to honestly look at their own prejudice and challenge it. Personally, I know I have a very negative image of people from the Middle East, and it bothers me. I think the key to fighting prejudicial thinking is to recognize it when it occurs. I mean, I can't control which negatives images come to mind when I see a group of Arab immigrants on the street, but if I remind myself that they are stereotypical generalizations, I can prevent them from affecting my rational thinking and actions. Having experienced prejudice, I really don't want to treat others that way. I want to see every person as a unique individual, and not judge them by their color, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or religion before getting to know them. But breaking free from society's programming is a constant struggle.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Tor, Næstved, NA, Denmark, 25, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, anxiety attacks, unemployed, 2 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 4212004121204

You put it in a nutshell in your last sentence. Your way of thinking is not only bad but you are dooming yourself to stay in that tight little box you have put yourself in. You speak of white flight as having been a 'trend' that is now reversing itself. Do you really think blacks and immigrants who live/shop/do well for themselves are doing so because of a trend? White flight in America happened well before your 32 short years on this earth. I think black and white Americans are finally waking up to themselves and see that we no longer have to live in fear of each other. My advice to you: Travel. Read. Educate yourself. Stop seeing life through ignorance and arrogance. Update your mindset and effect positive change. And if you have or ever have children, teach them the truth and they will do the same.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Rachel, Sydney, NA, Australia, <two2girl@yahoo.com>, 47, Female, Buddhist, Black/African American, Straight, Artist, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 422200485427

Do the same thing enlightened white people do: realize you are prejudiced and change your thoughts to reflect that all people are human and no one is better or less than anyone else. A person's thoughts and actions define them, not their skin tone.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Mathew, New York, NY, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 426200462900

My small, Southern city is experiencing the same phenomenon. I am a white single woman who bought a house in a neighborhood that was all-white, mostly working class in the 1940s, but almost all black by the 1960s. Now white people like me are moving back in. My house was cute and affordable, and honestly, I just don't want to drive three hours to work. I am comfortable with black people because I went to integrated schools, etc., unlike those in my parents' generation. I love being in a mixed neighborhood. Regarding the white beggar: the street, like the military, is a great equalizer. That beggar does not see your color.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Regina, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Female, ex-Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, government worker, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 426200490429

When I sometimes ride the bus home from school, there are mostly black people on the bus, but I don't mind. I don't see anything strange or wrong with sitting next to a black person as an equal, and I don't look down on anyone unless their actions give me reason to. Black people should not assume that all whites are racists or white supremacists. I heard on the news a couple of years ago that a study had proven that a higher percentage of black people are prejudiced against whites than whites aginst blacks (this was done by asking opinions and measuring unconscious physiological responses to pictures of the other race). As a young white female, I get tired of people assuming that I'm racist if I'm in a bad mood and look grumpy at someone, or if I'm tired and give inferior service at my job. Believe me, white people get the same version of me that black people or Mexicans or whoever do. Maybe the people you see who are white and don't conform to your idea of what white people think are just people like me.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Tara, Raleigh, NC, United States, 22, Female, Pagan, Mixed white/Mexican, Bisexual, Bartender, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 429200475542

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

Why do so many people refer to non-sexually related items or actions as 'gay'? The word 'gay' has developed nearly the same importance as the words 'stupid' or 'inane.' Why is it used instead of these supposed synonyms?
POSTED 5/2/2004
Will M., Pine Grove, CA, United States, 17, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 4282004104521

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

I was born and baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, but now at 32 and married with 3 children (who were also christened Catholic), I am interested in a nearby United Methodist church. I am unclear as to the specifics of the differences between the two. I really like the atmosphere of this 'new' church. I feel very welcomed and interested, but if it makes any sense I also am a little apprehensive due to the fact I am unclear regarding the differences. Can someone help?
POSTED 5/2/2004
Julie, Rochester, NY, United States, Female, Mesg ID 429200480359

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

It seems as if a woman is blond, she is automatically beautiful. I have heard white males describe a 'hot chick' as follows: 'I saw this girl, man she was beautiful - you know, blond...' Then others would nod in agreement as if no further explanation was necessary. Can someone please explain this?
POSTED 1/13/2004
Julie, Woodbridge, VA, United States, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Gov't Contracting, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 19200465223


Responses:

Sorry, white folks, but some of the most beautiful, classy-looking women, past and present, have been and are brunettes. Think Liz Taylor and Ava Gardner, for example - breathtakingly beautiful women who oozed class and style. Now compare them to Pamela Anderson and the wannabees. Blondes may have more fun, but brunettes are more beautiful.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Rhonda P. Outlaw, Laurelton, NY, United States, <Rhonda_Outlaw@ars.aon.com>, 42, Female, Lutheran, Black/African American, Straight, Account Rep, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1132004103858



It's because people are always fascinated by genetic freaks of nature. Scientifically a true blonde is rare; blond and blue eyes are even rarer. So think of it as a sexy freak show - like banging the bearded lady.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Shu, Rosslyn, VA, United States, 19, Female, Black/African American, Student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 127200413140

I think it comes from media stereotypes of the 'Barbie doll' look being presented as the model of attractiveness for a white woman and the way many '50s Hollywood stars with artificially blond hair were hailed as beautiful. However, I'm not sure blond is always considered beautiful - as a teen I had a skinny blond friend with acne and men would give her wolf whistles when they saw her from behind, then grimace when she turned round.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Louise, London, NA, United Kingdom, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Asperger syndrome, Mesg ID 212200494808

I am white and have always been more attracted to darker-haired and darker-skinned women. I remember in college a Korean friend told me he didn't like Indian women because he perceived them as being dirty. This of course sounds ridiculous. I think it comes from inexperience in the relationships between different races. I find that the more time I spend around a certain individual of a particular race, the more I am attracted to that race as a whole.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Anon, Boston, MA, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2102004104407

My hair is blond, and I can assure you no guy ever described me to his friends as a 'hot chick.' The only thing I can think of is that a guy would only remember a woman's hair was blond if it was highlighted. And if she's highlighting her hair, she's probably doing other things to her appearance -- wearing heels, wearing makeup, dressing sexy. So maybe in that case 'blond' is shorthand for overall grooming. I read a study once that said men prefer brown hair overall. I believe it, because blond hair either looks lank from not doing enough to it or dry and brittle from doing too much.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Victoria, Durham, NC, United States, 25, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2102004110419

I'm white, but blond hair doesn't really do anything for me. However, I think in the case you describe, the man is talking about the stereotypical blond 'cheerleader' type. Cameron Diaz is a pretty good example. The man is mentioning her blond hair, but it sounds like he's trying to conjure up other aspects of her figure (and possibly personality) with that statement.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Matt C., Oxford, GA, United States, 25, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2142004102009

Apparently preference for blondes goes back as far as the Romans and Celts, probably further. But I think a lot of it today has to do with media stereotyping of girls who look like Barbie as the image of beauty.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Elena, Valencia, NA, Spain, Female, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Lesbian, Student, Mesg ID 2202004114524

I guess a lot of white males just go for the typical blonde look, although they may appreciate other looks. I don't really know any black guys who say white chicks are hot; they usually like black girls. I guess it's a matter of taste.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Shenandoah, Winchester, VA, United States, Mesg ID 36200483206

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

I am Italian-American. I find it weird how everybody I have ever met who is Irish has a problem with me. I also know many Italians who have a problem with Irish people. Does anyone know how this hatred came to be? I have heard a lot of stories, but many of them are just blaming the problem on the other culture.
POSTED 2/15/2004
Franchesca, Philadelphia, PA, United States, 18, Female, Catholic, Italian-American, Straight, Student, Less than High School Diploma, Lower middle class, MesgID 25200455857


Responses:

I think this might be because first-generation Italian and Irish immigrants to the United States were commonly hated by the rest of the population during the 1800s and early 1900s. During this time, members of one group picked up the nasty stories of the other and passed them to their children, children's children, and so on. You live in a part of the United States where a lot of this sort of thing went on. At least this makes sense for this country. I haven't heard of this sort of thing happening outside the United States. If it does, the following theory might work: The Irish and Italians are still bitter over the conquest of Gaul. According to the stories, Julius Caesar sent an emmisary to a Gaelic (Celtic) chieftain. For whatever reason, the chieftain killed the emmisary. In a rage, Julius ordered that all Gaelic men be slaughtered and the women and children be sold into slavery. This action decimated the Celtic people and only the ones in Ireland and tiny isolated parts of mainland Europe remained. So the Irish are still upset over the genocide and the Italians are upset over the barbaric actions of some chief. Please note, I have absolutely no evidence of this. I came up with it after reading some 'Asterix and Obelix' comics. Me, I have both Irish and Italian blood. Nobody around here seems to care, except when I express a fondness for pickled tongue.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Ed, Bakersfield, CA, United States, 25, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, computers, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 216200411333



First of all, it's not that Italians and Irish people dislike each other. It's that Americans of those heritages dislike each other. I have several Irish buddies who regularly make fun of Americans who identify themselves as 'Irish' because someone four generations back came over from Kerry. Of course, I moved to Holland and do the same thing, even though my ancestors went to the New World in the 17th century! I guess in a nation of immigrants, we're all looking for roots. Anyway, I think a lot of it has to do with the various waves of immigration, especially around the turn of the last century (i.e. 1900) - you'd get a lot of immigrants competing for the same jobs, and a lot of pretty horrific racism. 'No Irish need apply' was a fairly standard addendum to help wanted ads back then, and I can only assume it came out of competition. This could also explain why we Americans ended up with 'Polack' jokes (here in Holland, they tell the same jokes about the Belgians; in the UK, it's the Irish).
POSTED 5/2/2004
Dersk, Amsterdam, NA, The Netherlands, 34, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 219200440016

I think part of it stems from the fact that both the Irish and Italians (as well as many other immigrants since) tended to live in close-knit neighborhoods, which created pockets for 'their own kind.' As you know from living in Philly, these neighborhood identities still remain in many places. Stereotypes and feelings about other people can last just as long, whether they are warranted or even understood.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Arc, Bloomington, IL, United States, 40, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 2272004123545

I think a lot of the animosity arose in New York ghettos during perods of intense emigration of and, subsequently, intense competition between these and other ethnic groups. Asian, Puerto Rican and now Vietnamese all face similar conflicts and prejudice. The movie 'Gangs of New York' provides some interesting insight, especially in the DVD extras. Keep in mind that most competition is survival-oriented and, as such, expressed sexually for purposes of perpetuating one's tribe. Moving beyond tribal/ethnic mores requires great courage, which most of us lack. As we get older, this sometimes gets stronger; other times it has less hold on us.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Kevin B., Toledo, OH, United Kingdom, <kbtoledo@buckeye-express.com>, 50, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, slight muscular dystrophy, some heart problems, social worker, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 4242004114017

I was blown away by this question. I happen to be an Irish/Italian in the New York area. My parents immigrated to the United States (coincidentally, they met in Philly and then moved to NY). When I was a child of maybe 8 or 9, when kids would ask each other 'What are you?' no one ever answered 'American.' Many kids said ' half Irish and half Italian'. So because we identify with those who are like us, I have been noticing that combination my entire life. And there are a lot of us. In the past 10 years or so, I've noticed at both Irish and Italian festivals, the increasing presence of upbeat T-shirts that bear sayings like: 'Pasta and Potatoes' or 'Pesto and Potatoes,' or my favorite; 'Gaelic and Garlic,' among a few others. These shirts suggest that the union of the two is pretty common, at least in the New York area. In fact, to directly counter the suggestion that the two cultures are at odds with one another, I would submit to you this: both the Irish and the Italians came to this country with the same stigma. They were the 'dirty lower class,' looking for work, either couldn't speak English, or not American English, and therefore not understood. The general populous of naturalized Americans frowned on them much the same way Americans treat the Hispanic and Asian immigrants today. The Italians (WOPS) and the Irish (MICKS or MCs) were the Wetbacks of their time, relegated to the menial jobs that were made available to them, if at all (i.e.. 'Irish need not apply'). So in dealing with the prejudices of their time, in some cases they banded together and started families. This is not say there is some sort of coalition of the Italians and Irish, and they are dancing together in the street. However, I haven't seen any stone throwing either, at least not in New York.
POSTED 5/2/2004
Dave, New york, NY, United States, 35, Male, Pre Outsourced Techie, Technical School, Mesg ID 428200481554

To respond
BACK TO TOP


This site and all its content,©Copyright Phillip J. Milano 1997-2004
Legal Disclaimer and User Agreement