Best of the Week
of May 11, 2003

Best of Week ArchivesArchives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 11, 2003, 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.   

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"Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"


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Question:

Why is it that men seem to hate asking for directions even if it is very clear they are lost?
POSTED 5/11/2003
Krista H., Lapeer, MI, United States, 28, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 510200330409

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Question:

What are some common stereotypes about women?
POSTED 5/11/2003
Jennifer, New York, NY, United States, Female, Mesg ID 511200372219

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Question:

I'm amazed at how hypocritical white culture can be when it comes to animal rights and human rights, especially for minorities. Why will whites go through extraordinary lengths to ensure a domesticated animal is not abused, but don't even bat an eye at the thought of innocent Iraqi children getting bombed in the war? Of course not all are pro-war, but many still seem to have apathetic attitudes toward the plight of violence against other races, especially committed by the police against African Americans. It seems so easy for a large portion of white Americans to assume that the often barbaric beatings, killings and torture by the police are done in self-defense.

POSTED 5/4/2003

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, 22, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 427200343445


Responses:
Dogs are man's best friend. Black people aren't. That sounds meaner than I intend, but the simple fact is, some minorities in the United States are not the most endearing people to be around. Blacks are the most racist group in America right now. Would you keep offering olive branches to someone who attacks you every time you do, calls you 'cracka' and generally tries to intimidate you?
POSTED 5/12/2003
genome, New York, NY, United States, Mesg ID 56200312237

I am not sure if you really asked a question but I will try to answer. Let's start with animal cruelty. Animals do not have the ability to do anything about what is affecting them. Animals, just like children, cannot stand up for themselves, and many people, not just whites, will stand up for them. In the case Iraq, nobody wants to bomb children, but the alternative is far worse. Please do not tell me you would rather have the children of Iraq grow up under the regime of a murderous, torturing, rapist dictator. That is far crueler than sitting back and doing nothing. As for police beating African Americans, or any other race, there is a rule that one can follow that will ensure there will be no more beatings. The rule is do not break the law! And if an individual does choose to break the law, then the second rule is do not fight the police! If all people adhere to these two simple rules, police beatings will rapidly decline.
POSTED 5/12/2003
Joey, Troy, MI, United States, 34, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 56200321735

I think there are several reasons for whites turning a blind eye to the plight of minorities:
1). People want to believe there is justice in the world (and especially in the United States), so they don't want to admit that brutality against minorities is the fault of the people in power. It's easier to blame the victim.
2). In public schools, we are taught there is equal opportunity. Our history books lie to us and teach us that everyone has the same chances, regardless of race or sex, and students, because this is what they are taught, believe this. That's why, when they hear about police brutality against African Americans, for example, so many white people say things like, 'Oh yeah, playing the race card, when really he's just a lawbreaker.'
3). White people don't receive as many glimpses into the corruption and brutality of the power structure as minorities do, so they tend to regard stories about it with disbelief. By the same token, minorities, because they mistrust the system, may be less respectful and cooperative with the police, who are used to fawning, friendly and cooperative behavior from whites. When the police see that minorities distrust and disrespect them, it makes them even more brutal. As for the other part of your question, concerning why some whites go to extraordinary lengths to ensure a domesticated animal is not abused: My opinion is that it's because a dog or cat is more human to isolated white people than those 'scary minorities.' Also, perhaps it's because they think minorities have acheived equal opportunity and are not discriminated against anymore.
POSTED 5/12/2003
Amber, Somewhere, AK, United States, 30, Female, White/Caucasian, High School Diploma, Lower class, Mesg ID 56200361214

Most people who preach the same kind of animal rights you seem to be speaking about are generally leftist-oriented in their political outlook and would probably be among the first to be vocal at an anti-war or anti-cop protest. There are a lot more of them at protests for slain black victims than the number of blacks at protests for slain white victims. I assume you must know some people who do feel this way, however, and I think I know why they would react this way. Frankly, getting worked up about Iraqi or inner-city black victims goes against their social 'interests.' Iraq's former leader is a U.S. enemy, and blacks regularly rob, rape and kill whites at a rate that far exceeds the white-on-black street crime rate. A tough line against these populations is beneficial to white Americans for their own safety.
POSTED 5/12/2003
Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, 23, Male, Construction, High School Diploma, Lower class, Mesg ID 56200363537

I'm the perfect person to answer your question, because I am one of the hypocrites you refer to, although I am not necessarily the extreme 'pro-war' type. The main reason I am more concerned with the welfare of domesticated animals in this country than with children in other countries is that human beings of any age have more control over their own destiny than any domesticated animal. Second, there are many more people who care about the plight of children than the plight of animals - I feel like the animals need my support more. And finally, as a historian, I must concede that war, for whatever reason, does not discriminate according to age. It's the unfortunate reality.
POSTED 5/12/2003
Jessica, Huntsville, TX, United States, 23, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Graduate Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 562003110818

While I disagree that animal rights people don't care about minorities' struggles or the peace struggle (at least where I live), I think it is simply ignorance and indoctrination. People are brought up with images of Latinos, Arabs and blacks, etc. as being thugs, not the norm or ignorant. We are also brought up to think that the government, despite its racist past, can do no wrong, and that our boys in blue are shining examples of America and will keep everything normal for normal Americans - that they couldn't possibly do wrong. People don't want to face up to the fact that the police might be more aggressive toward those who deviate from society (i.e. blacks or gays ). I think people can sympathize more with a cute little puppy or bunny rather than with someone who deviates from their own perceptions of what is considered normal.
POSTED 5/12/2003
Sierra, Austin, TX, United States, 17, Female, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Bisexual, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 57200341929

In the case of Iraqis, it is the same as in Kosovo or Afghanistan or Haiti or wherever. Few Americans seem to give a damn about foreigners. They all seem to say 'Ah well, Muslims are terrorists anyway' or 'They're just Commies.' I know many in the 'bomb-a-foreigner' crowd will write in about how 'justified' the Iraq war is, but even if it is, no one gives a rat's pa-toot about some 'other' who they quickly dismiss as 'collateral damage.' If Americans can agree about the tragedy of 9/11, why can't they when bombs fall elsewhere as well?
POSTED 5/12/2003
Tyler D., Chambersburg, PA, United States, 26, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Mesg ID 57200353210

I was not for the war and am against violence toward innocent people. What I have a hard time with is why so many black people condem the police for being rough with car thieves, rapists, drug dealers and other criminals. If you are breaking the law and threatening other people, your right to being treated nicely is voided. I have often wondered why the black community doesn't support the police more in ridding their communities of thugs, murderers, rapists and all forms of thieves. Instead, they rally around someone mistreated while commiting a crime. Why is this?
POSTED 5/12/2003
Matthew, New York City, NY, United States, 44, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Mesg ID 57200394155

Your premises (that whites don't care about Iraqi children or police torturing civilians) bespeak anger and prejudice on your part. None of the issues you raise are as simple as you make them out to be. Your distinction between the feelings of whites vs. those of African Americans is far from obvious (do you have evidence that most blacks are against the war?). Generally speaking, Americans feel compassion for helpless animals who are abused for no reason, but feel less compassion for criminals who don't obey the law or the police. Americans are outraged by police who act like criminals, but forgiving toward police who may cross a blurry line while enforcing the law. Pro-war Americans have no animosity toward children, black, white or Iraqi, but believe war sometimes to be necessary (for example, while some Iraqi children undoubtedly died from American bombs, millions of Iraqis, all of whom were at one time children, died under Saddam's regime). Finally, though it seems to you that many whites are too willing to believe police act in self-defense, it seems to me that many blacks are too willing to forgive black criminals.
POSTED 5/12/2003
James D., Summit, NJ, United States, <james_witted@hotmail.com>, 46, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 582003105947

Kristina, have you not noticed that two of Bush's Cabinet members backing this administration's folly in Iraq are African American? I have attended many anti-war (and anti-LAPD incidentally) rallies in my town. Unless the cause is specifically African American, I rarely see very many people of color in attendance. Perhaps the question should be, 'Why don't African Americans seem to feel compassion for any race other than their own?' Virtually every protester at my last rally was white, Asian or Arab. Don't African Americans care about Iraqi children?
POSTED 5/12/2003
Emma, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 58200342629
 
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Question:

I am a social worker and want to know what people think of people in the profession. I am a conservative white female. However, because I am a social worker, people tend to think I must be a 'bleeding heart liberal' because I work with people who are less fortunate or have mental health problems. Also, is there a stereotype of women in this profession as being 'dowdy' as compared to women in other professions, for example, in the business field? I am asking because I recently retired and am seeking a career change, and I do not know whether the employers I've sent resumes to are not considering me because of stereotypes about me or because of my qualifications.
POSTED 5/11/2003
Linda C., Ann Arbor, MI, United States, 55, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Social worker, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 59200315120

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Question:

Why do so many Hollywood films seem to feature villains played by British (more specifically English) actors? For example, in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, heroic Robin and his men are played by American actors (even though it's set in Medieval England), while the Sheriff of Nottingham, the evil guy, is played by a very English actor, Alan Rickman. There are many other examples. Is it acceptable for some reason for the English accent to represent evil, when other accents would be unacceptable?
POSTED 5/11/2003
Kathy B., London, NA, United Kingdom, 40s, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Middle class, Mesg ID 59200342753

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Question:

Why is it that so many of my black sisters would rather walk around with damaged relaxed hair than simply wearing their hair natural? Most relaxed heads of hair look terrible, and the weaves and ponytails look downright tacky. Why are some of us still so ashamed of what is ours - and beautiful?

POSTED 5/8/2003

Rhonda P. Outlaw, Laurelton, NY, United States, <Rhonda_Outlaw@ars.aon.com>, 41, Female,
Lutheran, Black/African American, Straight, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 58200354640


Responses:
I'm not ashamed of my hair. My hair is naturally wavy, so I relax it so I won't cry every time I comb through it. Not all of us would rather walk around with damaged hair. I really think it depends on the person's beautician. I will admit that some are out for the money and couldn't care less about over-processing their client's hair. For example, I used to go to one who would recommend that I get a relaxer every three weeks, which is ridiculous. Of course, she told me this because relaxers usually cost more than a shampoo. I think this is what happens with most women, and that's why their relaxers look so bad. Then, they are not taught how to care for their hair after they leave the shop. The person I go to now is wonderful, and my hair is at its healthiest - even with the relaxer. As far as the weaves and ponytails, I agree with you - especially if the colors and grade of hair doesn't match. You can't wear a silky-straight ponytail if your own hair looks like taco meat.
POSTED 5/11/2003
Trina K., Chicago, IL, United States, 23, Female, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 510200381425

American society tends to look down on more 'eccentric' hairstyles. If I were to walk into a job interview with my hair in its natural state (which would be an afro), and then a black woman with the same credentials walked in with a more tamed 'perm,' the company would most likely go for the professional look, seeing the former as 'unruly.' It's all a matter of what our black girls and women are socialized to believe is beautiful. How many Barbies have you seen with afros or cornrows? Our little black girls see all the little cartoon girls on TV with straight hair that moves when they walk (I know I did). It's not a matter of being ashamed, it's a matter of the want and need of being accepted as beautiful.
POSTED 5/11/2003
Wendy, Lansing, MI, United States, 17, Female, Black/African American, Student, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 5102003101309

For me, it's about manageability. Naturally, I have coarse, kinky hair. There is no way I could tolerate trying to wear it any other way than relaxed. I don't have time to mechanically straighten it. I would like to wear it natural, but not everyone has the texture to go natural in this fast-paced world. It hurts like hell if I try to comb it without it being relaxed. If I had a looser curl pattern, I would love to wear my hair natural. For me, it's not about trying to look like anybody, it's about manageability.
POSTED 5/11/2003
VirginQueen, Ft. Payne, AL, United States, 24, Female, Black/African American, Lower class, Mesg ID 511200391913

Sista I can see your question. However I believe that how a woman wears her hair is about choice. Isn't that a wonderful thing, to have the chance to wear your hair 15 different ways if you like? I don't feel there is anything wrong with a black woman wearing a perm, weave, pony tails, texturizers, locs or twists. Isn't that one of the things that is special about black women. It all comes down to choice. I know sistas who have been sporting perms for years, and they are the most conscious women around. I know sistas who wear natural styles and they are no credit to the race. And just in case you're wondering, I'm a sista who has been 'natural' 10 years and counting. Before we judge by hair, let us actually test and see what's on the brain.
POSTED 5/11/2003
Stephanie, Chicago, IL, United States, 29, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Technical Support Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 511200315800

You don't understand how hard it is to get a comb through extremely coiled hair. Our hair gets even harder to comb when wet. A relaxer helps smooth out the curl and helps us comb it out without pulling it out. Black people have very dry and brittle hair to begin with. That is why it stays short. When wearing a weave, we are protecting the hair and allowing it to grow underneath.
POSTED 5/11/2003
Denisia, Fairfax, VA, United States, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 511200324940

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Question:

I hear it is against the law in Canada to spank. Is it only excessive spanking, or anything, even a swat? Do people actually get arrested or fined for this? I only spank as a last resort and to prevent my kids from dangerous situations like running in the road, and I enjoy the freedom of choice. How do Canadians feel about your country telling you how you can raise your kids?

POSTED 5/8/2003

Tanya S, Flint, MI, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Photographer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 57200334519


Responses:
It is tragic that lawmakers have reacted to child abuse by invoking another kind of child abuse - no spanking. Until a child reaches the age of understanding, education applied to the seat of understanding is effective, if the purpose is to discpline the child. I live in Alberta. However, in Ontario, it is my understanding that parents can be disciplined for PUBLICLY spanking a child. In all fairness, even before the law was there, disciplining a child in public is humiliating. It is best done privately behind closed doors. The law is meant for the betterment of society, but sometimes lawmakers get carried away and make a bad situation worse by passing short-sighted laws.
POSTED 5/12/2003
John U., Edmonton, Alberta, NA, Canada, Male, Christian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 5122003121646

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Question:

How prevalent is homosexuality in the (Asian) Indian community?

POSTED 5/4/2003

Manny, n/a, NA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 428200394336


Responses:
It's as prevalent as it is in any other culture. Homosexuality is part of human sexuality and can be found where humans can be found. From what I've heard from my South Asian friends, Indian culture is particularly hard on homosexuals. For example, the movie 'Fire,' a love story between two Indian women, was banned in India, I believe. But that doesn't mean there are fewer gay people in India. It might make them less likely to come out publicly, though. I know from friends that it can be very difficult for second-generation South Asian-American gays and lesbians to come out to their families - but that can be true for people with parents from other cultures, too. If you're interested in learning more about being gay and Indian, you might want to rent 'Fire' or see if you can find a copy of Nisha Ganatra's 'Chutney Popcorn' - a movie about a lesbian who is South Asian-American and her family.
POSTED 5/12/2003
Amy, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 59200385320

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