Best of the Week
of May 10, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 10, 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:
R272: I am an Israeli and have never had a chance to talk with Arabs. I would like to know from an Arab: What do you really think of Israelis?
POSTED MAY 15, 1998
Maya, 23, student, Tel Aviv, Israel
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
GE29: My question is for men and women: I had a conversation with another women stemming from a recent Sports Illustrated article titled "Where's My Daddy?" She felt that if a woman got pregnant out of wedlock, it was solely her responsibility that she let that happen. I was floored. Whose responsibility do you think it is?
POSTED MAY 15, 1998
Armcrae, 34, black <
armcrae@yahoo.com>, Washington, D.C.
To respond
BACK TO TOP


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 B., 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

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I'll cite two instances: 1) I was riding my bike along the road very near my house (I'm from Detroit) and a car full of African-American kids pulled alongside and threatened to beat me up because I was in the "wrong" neighborhood. At first, I was scared, I admit, but then I became indignant (only slightly) and I pointed to the hospital behind the car and said: "I was born there." From that point on, the confrontation was about how I should be careful, more on the lecturing side, telling me where I could or couldn't ride my bike in the city. 2) I was on the bus going home from work and kids from my old high school were riding (African-American kids). Well, I fell asleep, which I sometimes do on the bus. I awoke because some kid was thumping my head. The entire bus was laughing at me. The kid sat down and demanded I hold his books for the entire ride. I did so for a while and then said I couldn't do it any longer. Not everyone was cheering him on, in fact, some kids said to leave me alone. His response was: "Well, they did it to us for all these years." I don't know if these two examples are black-on-white prejudice, or sort of didactic lectures. Who knows. As far as any group having power to discriminate, that's certainly contextual, isn't it? I didn't have any power in those two episodes.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
Mike K. <
KROLL1@IX.NETCOM.COM>, Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
One of the most bigoted persons I know is an older black man whom I got to know well when he spent two months remodeling my house. He tries to bait you into conversations about "his people," then tries to turn every conversation around to how "whitey is a racist." Despite his attitudes, he turns out to still be likable - as long as you steer clear of the racial topics.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Dirtydog, 53, white male <
dirtydog@globalsite.net>, Richmond, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Bigotry and racism may be two different things. I have come to believe that bigotry/prejudice/stereotyping is not the exclusive property of any single group. We all do it to one degree or another. Racism,,on the other hand, to me is connected with "institutional racism" - in which the whole society is set up in ways that favor certain groups of people and handicap others. It's those who have power who can make this happen. Historically, in the United States, they has been white males.
POSTED MAY 15, 1998
Neil D., 55, white male <
deupreen@inwave.com>, Janesville, WI
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R263: Based on the fact that Indian tribes of the United States have treaties with the United States that are the Supreme Law of the Land per Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution, I ask the following question: Why do we see Americans listed as White, Black, Yellow or Red - also known as European, African, Asian and Native American - when the Constitution provides only for Indians and non-Indians in the United States?
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Jimmie D. Oyler, 67, Shawnee Indian, Principal Chief, United Tribe of Shawnee Indians, <
hdqrs@worldnet.att.net>, De Soto, KS
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R252: Why does it seem that Caucasians, moreso than other races, enjoy flirting with death by engaging in such activities as skydiving, bungie-jumping, mountain climbing and car and speedboat racing?
POSTED MAY 9, 1998
Charles W. <
cwatford@haleybp.com>, Arlington, VA

ANSWER 1:
Good question. One reason might be that they have the cash to pursue expensive hobbies. But I see what you are getting at.
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Joseph <
joseph.moosman@mailexcite.com>, Karlsborg, Sweden

FURTHER NOTICE:
Perhaps white people engage more often in high-risk entertainment because we feel less danger and conflict within our everyday environment. I do not mean simply within a home environment, but also at work and school. A number of my black friends have expressed dismay over constantly having to be conscious of how they are perceived in their respective offices, ranging from their appearance to speech. These are not concerns I worry about. This could be at the heart of your question. As a white person, however, I can assure you I have absolutely no interest in flinging myself out of a plane.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
J.C., white male <
dolemite_jr@hotmail.com>, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
One theory is that people have to have a certain level of risk in their lives to truly feel alive. When life gets too comfortable, people look for ways to add risk. That may explain why it can be so hard to regulate people's behaviors, even when it's "for their own good." If risk-taking is more prevalent in white society, it's probably only a matter of time, as blacks gain economic status, before you see it become more common. This has been a common theme in literature (i.e. Albert Camus) and music (i.e. Prince). It's fairly well-recognized but not necessarily scientifically quantified.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Peter P., white male <
PPROUT20@aol.com>, Redford, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Many scientists believe the predisposition of an individual to be a "risk-taker" is genetic. So being a so-called "daredevil" may be directly related to the same forces that have driven the white race to partake in acts of war and conquest, the acquisition of culture and many other risk-natured endeavors.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Steven T., 24, white <
genious@mindless.com>, St. Louis, MO
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
RE49: I keep seeing references to "secular Jews" in stories concerning developments in Israel. They seem to be in opposition to what are called "Ultra Orthodox" or "Orthodox" Jews. What is a "secular Jew"?
POSTED MAY 11, 1998
Chas. P., Christian <
capettee@aol.com>, Dayton, OH

ANSWER 1:
A secular Jew is simply a non-religious Jew, as Judaism refers not only to the religion but to the nationality as well.
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Efrat N., Israel

FURTHER NOTICE:
In general, secularization of a nation means that state and religion are separated. In Israel, this is not always so. Rabbis, for instance, are the judges in many important civil law cases. For an Orthodox or Ultra Orthodox Jew, there is no way state and religion can be separated. For secular Jews, however, it can. There are also many secular Jews who do not or hardly practice Jewish religion, just as many people who live in "Christian" countries do. For instance, they work or drive cars during the Sabbath, etc., which sometimes causes friction between the secular and Orthodox Jews.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Mario, The Netherlands <
mariotam@wxs.nl>

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
"Jew" can denote overlapping personal identities. You can be culturally Jewish, ethnically Jewish or religiously Jewish or (as most Jews are) a combination of the above. The term "secular Jew" refers to a hodge-podge of Israeli Jewish groups that do not identify themselves in purely or exclusively religious terms. Religious practices vary from non-existent to fairly observant within this group.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
David de G., 31, Dutch Jew who lived in Israel <
degraaf@iname.com>
Brookline, MA

To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R253: Why is it that most African Americans don't appear to recognize the late Jimi Hendrix as one of their own? He was a great guitarist.
POSTED MAY 9, 1998
Jroc, Pontiac, MI

ANSWER 1:
Even when Jimi Hendrix was alive, he was not very popular with most African Americans because the music he played was not what we were listening to. That is not to say that none of us listened to him. My husband is quite a fan.
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Rain, Dallas, TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
Rock n' roll is strongly rooted in black American music (the blues), and by the time Jimi Hendrix came onto the scene in the late 60s, there was a racial schism in popular music. The bulk of black pop music fans were listening to "rhythm & blues," where the emphasis is placed on vocalists rather than instrumentalists. By that time, rock n' roll was considered "white" music, and radio stations that catered to black audiences didn't play much of it during peak listening hours. So the short answer is that most blacks just aren't regular listeners to rock n' roll; so they aren't as familiar with Jimi Hendrix as a white person who listens to rock would be.
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Jay B., black male <
jayboyd@ameritech.net>, Detroit, MI
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION: 
GE6: I would like to know why men find that a "thin" woman is more attractive than a "bigger" lady.
POSTED MARCH 25, 1998
KimSaks <
KimSaks@ivillage.com>
South Lyon , MI

ANSWER 1:
I know it seems unfair, but most men want a woman with curves, sexy, long, lean legs and a chest that juts out and is set off by a thin waistline. I am no different. I would rather be with a women who fits the beauty queen stereotype. I do not get excited by overweight women.
POSTED MARCH 29, 1998
David H., 30, Royal Oak, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
Many men find "thin" women attractive because of what they (the men) are capable of handling. Many of these men have fantasies of things in the bedroom, and a woman who weighs a certain amount may be more difficult for him to try his acrobatics with. In addition, women who are thinner are less likely to spend a lot of time complaining about their appearance. Many clothing styles are not made to flatter a fuller figure. If you are larger than "thin," don't let it bother you, please. There are plenty of men who like women who are not "thin," and many of them are desirable men!
POSTED MARCH 31, 1998
Apryl P., black <
apryl@mail-me.com>
Oak Park, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Personally, I don't like skinny women. The models you see on the catwalk look sickly and ill to me. However, on the other hand, a very overweight woman also looks unhealthy. My perfect woman isn't skinny, but rather has meat on her. The kind that could help me with the tight jar lid. So not all men think that skinny is attractive.
POSTED APRIL 6, 1998
R.B., Niagara Falls, ONT, CAN

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I'm a male in a relationship with a rather overweight woman. I consider myself rather thin (5' 7", 165 lbs). It isn't all that bad, and I don't think every male desires only "thin" women. First, you have to define what you mean by thin. Do you mean a model's body in a fashion magazine? Not all men prefer that. Second, before questioning the preferences of men for thinner women, an honest assessment needs to be made about what the overweight woman wants, too. Many overweight women like only thin, physically fit men. So it's a two-way street. Men do it; women do it. There are many women who won't even strike up a conversation with a fatter man. For myself, I know that I simply want her activities and attitudes to match mine. I exercise and do not like junk-food. She shouldn't either. I like to go skiing. She doesn't have to know how to ski but she has to be able to try it without having trouble (same goes with other activities like sunbathing, jogging, etc). Some fun activities she cannot do with me if she can't breathe after 5 minutes or simply has a low self-esteem.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
David L., 25,Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Over a period of years, I noticed that I began to find larger women whose bodies maintained some proportion to be extremely attractive. I was embarrassed to admit that I found "Big Beautiful Women" attractive until only recently. Now that I express admiration for larger figures, I notice that more of my friends are admitting that they, too, find some larger women alluring. So take heart, please. My sense is that men have always liked larger women and are, like me, only lately feeling confident enough to admit it to others.
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Mark, 40, male, MS

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
A number of men love full-figured women, my husband being one of them. It all has to do with a man's preference. Some will date only the super-model lookalikes and others would prefer a women with meat on her. A women who is overweight can be just as sexy as a model-type woman. It is all in how you carry yourself.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Michelle L. <
yngmom18@aol.com>, Jacksonville, FL
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
A9: Why do seniors demand respect from the younger generation when it seems they don't respect us?
POSTED MAY 11, 1998
Rob, 27, <
innvertigo@aol.com>, Southfield , MI

ANSWER 1:
I'm part of that same younger generation but feel compelled to respond. Respect has to start somewhere. Our elders have earned respect by working their whole lives and fighting to gain the freedom and privileges we enjoy every day without thinking about it. We should expect to have to earn respect, too. I don't think I've done enough to earn the unconditional respect of the elderly in my community, but I hope to. Also, don't expect something in return when you show older people the kind of respect they deserve - or even before you show it. Just expect that if you treat people well, they will treat you well in return. It just takes time, and you have to believe it's worth it.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Jennifer, 29, Saline, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
The reason any person should respect their elders is that older people have lived longer and therefore experienced more. (The assumption being that because they are more experienced, they are more knowledgeable.) Think of the child who doesn't want to wear a seat belt. They haven't seen many, if any, accidents. Probably never been involved in one, either - meaning they don't have any idea how badly the human body fares in one. The parents, even if they have never been directly involved in an accident, have the knowledge, and can so direct their children correctly - even if the children don't realize this. The ability, in general, of the older person to see the big picture in a clearer fashion demands that the younger person respect this knowledge or experience - and in turn demand this same respect from those younger yet.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
K.F.G., 43, white male, <
sfg-7@msn.com>, Garden City, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
People who "demand" respect probably feel they deserve it because they have managed to be around longer. Of course, many people focused on their own experience, knowledge and wisdom are not open to the possibilities of learning from anyone else, especially someone younger. If they were, they would be respectful to everyone. You allude to another of the sterotypes we tend to carry with us, in this case sterotypes the older carry of the younger, and vice-versa. A better form of respect would come from who you are, rather than what you are.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Bob N., 58, Baton Rouge, LA

To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R233: We are often told to be colorblind, but we are also often shown the achievements of people from various minority races. Both are important, yet seem contradictory. I'm curious to hear comments on this.

POSTED MAY 2, 1998
Tim G., 24 <
gilmoret@bellsouth.net>, Jacksonville, FL

ANSWER 1:
Reality is that the colorblind theory will take many years to take hold. Further, the only way this theory will come to pass is if those who see purely in color begin to see a level of equality of accomplishement. When one looks at the issue of racial difference, one must realize that there are a number of stereotypical behaviors attached to it. It is only through the recognition of equal accomplishments that society can correct this grave problem. Unfortunately, this issue is fueled by ignorance, but through the media's exposure of the accomplishments of all people, the correction has begun and will continue with the generations to come. It is so very difficult to change attitudes, but through education and exposure, the day may come when we are truly a colorblind society.
POSTED MAY 4, 1998
K. Taylor <
kdm05@bellsouth.net>, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
We could be colorblind if textbooks had always shown people of all races making achievements. When I was in public school, there was only one black person pictured in any of my school textbooks: George Washington Carver. I believe it is very important that we continue to show achievements of minorities. It may be hard for you to realize that because today, great efforts are being made to illustrate achievements made by minorities, but it wasn't always like that. From my history books in grade school, no black people existed except for the slaves. My education about American history was so unbalanced that we cannot become colorblind in achievements until the scales have been balanced.
POSTED MAY 4, 1998
Jas, black, 42 <
themoas@aol.com>, Pensacola, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
The idea that we should be colorblind is losing credibility. Why would we want to be oblivious to the reality of genuine variation and diversity? These are the very things that make life interesting. No one fails to notice another's color unless that person is literally blind. The issue is to see all of the reality that exists, thus seeing it without preconceived notions (a.k.a. prejudice). In that light, it's important to highlight the accomplishments of our many forebears, especially those who have been slighted by Euro-centric history. The apparent contradiction disappears.
POSTED MAY 11, 1998
Will H., Euro-American, 48, gay, Dallas, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
"Colorblind" has been referred to as "the myth of sameness." Maybe it is a myth espoused by people uncomfortable acknowledging difference. In general, human beings are not colorblind. We see the radiance of the orange and red sunset, the cool purples of an iris and the everchanging blues and grays of the sky. We see different colors. People also have distinct and beautiful hues: Creamy, dusty brown, deep black, ad infinitum. Likewise, we have different histories, different accomplishments, different cultures and traditions. I can't imagine a monochromatic natural world, so why would I strive to see people without the glory of all their colors and histories? To fully experience life, I respect and honor differences as much as the colors that infuse our visual experience of nature.
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Selma Y. <
selmay@tenet.edu>, San Antonio, TX
To respond
BACK TO TOP

 


CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE TOP 1000!

Copyright and disclaimer