Best of the Week
of May 2, 2004
Best of Week Archives
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
(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
Do white people's pubic hairs have the same color as their other hair?
Regal, Beijing, NA, China, Mesg ID 429200435941
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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?
Martin L., Berlin, NA, Germany, 27, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight,
student, Middle class, Mesg ID 422200464238
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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?
Sam B., Sacramento, CA, United States, Female, Christian, Mesg ID 422200482837
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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.
Tor, Naestved, NA, Denmark, 25, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, anxiety attacks,
unemployed, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 4272004112027
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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?
Gu Li, Changchun, NA, China, <email@example.com>, Asian, Mesg ID 4272004114257
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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?
Bella, Washington, DC, United States, 32, Female, Christian, Afro-Caribbean,
Immigrant, Straight, Administrative Assistant, Technical School, Middle class,
Mesg ID 415200414231
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.
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.
Rachel, Sydney, NA, Australia, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 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.
Mathew, New York, NY, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID
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.
Regina, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Female, ex-Episcopalian, White/Caucasian,
Straight, government worker, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg
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.
Tara, Raleigh, NC, United States, 22, Female, Pagan, Mixed white/Mexican,
Bisexual, Bartender, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 429200475542
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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?
Will M., Pine Grove, CA, United States, 17, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian,
Straight, student, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 4282004104521
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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?
Julie, Rochester, NY, United States, Female, Mesg ID 429200480359
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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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shenandoah, Winchester, VA, United States, Mesg ID 36200483206
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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
Franchesca, Philadelphia, PA, United States, 18, Female, Catholic, Italian-American,
Straight, Student, Less than High School Diploma, Lower middle class, MesgID
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.
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).
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.
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.
Kevin B., Toledo, OH, United Kingdom, <email@example.com>,
50, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, slight muscular dystrophy, some heart
problems, social worker, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID
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.
Dave, New york, NY, United States, 35, Male, Pre Outsourced Techie, Technical
School, Mesg ID 428200481554
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