Best of the Week
of May 13, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 13, 2001, 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 new database using the search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new 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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Question:

I understand that paraplegic men still have the ability to father children. Is this true, and if so, how?

POSTED 1/28/2000

Carrie, Strathmore, CA, United States, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Clerical, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 1262000103549

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Question:

Why is it that when a white kid listens to rap and talks 'ghetto,' they are accused of acting black, and when a black kid talks proper and dosen't listen to hip hop they are accused of acting white? Are people saying that only African Amercans can talk ghetto and only white kids can be well-mannered?

POSTED 5/14/2001

Julia, Pasadena, CA, United States, 17, Female, Christian, black/white/mexican, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Upper class, Mesg ID 513200135716

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Question:

A friend of mine, a fairly fat guy about 24, has lots of fat on his chest, and looks like he has breasts. He is starting to wear a bra because he doesn't want them to sag. It's a compression bra that holds them firmly; they don't point out. A woman we were talking to thought it was inappropriate, and that a guy should just let his breasts sag. What do others think?

POSTED 5/11/2001

Jason G., Newcastle, NA, Australia, 22, Male, Buddhist, Maori/Asian, Straight, Student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 510200143343


Responses:
Your friend should wear the bra. Who cares if he's a guy? If it'll solve the sagging problem, why not? It's better than having droopy breasts, which is a turn-off. Also, if he's embarrassed by it, no one needs to know; it's his own business.

POSTED 5/15/2001

Gloria, Clifton, NJ, United States, 18, Female, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 512200115950


This is a personal decision that your friend should make. Really, it's important for him to feel as comfortable as possible with his appearance. Besides, look at all the stuff women wear to enhance their appearance: push-up bras, stuffing their bras, girdles, control-top panty hose, etc. So I don't see how there's anything wrong with a guy wanting to wear something along the same line. Again, though, regardless of what I or this other woman you were talking to thinks, the bottom line is that it should be his decision.

POSTED 5/15/2001

Stacey, Boston, MA, United States, <stimply@bigfoot.com>, 28, Female, Middle class, Mesg ID 514200134148

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Question:

I have lived in Toronto all my life. I have traveled to some cities in the United States and once to Bueanos Aires. I find this city to be very cold, especially when it comes to meeting women. The people here are so immersed in their bubble that they think this is the way everywhere. I see fear in people's eyes. I have to say that this is the most dysfunctional city on the planet. Move here for six months and you will see. I used to think it was me, but I have talked to a lot of people (more than 100) and been vindicated many times. Toronto is a place where the women walk around like they are special, but when you talk to them, nothing is there. Even the ones who are not attractive compared to others walk around like they are queens. Give me a break. It is so hard to meet women here that you have to be an asshole to survive. I'm telling you, I am not making this up. The problem is that if you talk about it, you come across as some whiney loser. I've had three girlfriends, and I tell you I don't know how I met them. Blind luck. I would so dearly like to get my revenge on this bloody city and its dead-like inhabitants. My question is, are most North American women like this? Are you all cold, calculating, money-grubbing narcissists? I know what you are going to say. The usual. But this lonely existence has pushed me so far that I am forced to debase myself and come here for answers. I am an average/good-looking guy who is a substitute teacher. But the coldness here is so great, I defy anyone (especially male) to come here and tell me a colder place.

POSTED 5/11/2001

Taylor, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 30, Male, English/Spanish, Straight, Teacher, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 510200182045


Responses:
You are right ... women in Toronto (and the city in general) are as 'cold' as it gets. When you were out of the country, you missed the memo about Toronto being the center of the universe. Somehow people in Toronto have got it in their head that if you don't wake up at 4 a.m. to have a two-hour commute to work and stress yourself out at a job that lasts 18 hours a day with an impending heart attack, you are not as civilized as them. My answer? Come to Halifax. The people here (especially the women) are a lot more friendly than those in Toronto. The cost of living is way cheaper, and we have some of the best careers just east of Montreal (gas, oil, medical, bio-science, engineering). There are more universities in Halifax than any other city in Canada. Other parts of the country say that 'Halifax moves so slow.' My response is that we don't move slow, we are just more efficient, and therefore aren't scrambling to get things done. I'll tell you one thing, of all the people I've known/met who have moved to Toronto, eventually they move back to where they came from, but the people who have moved to Halifax are still here. Food for thought.

POSTED 5/14/2001

Murray C., Halifax, Nova Scotia, NA, Canada, 32, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Draftsman, Technical School, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 514200145253


Don't spend so much time on Bay/Bloor or the ghetto!

POSTED 5/14/2001

Kate, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 22, Female, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 514200155950

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Question:

Why do black men look good in purple suits, but white men look like dorks?

POSTED 4/29/2001

P Ryan, Harrow, NA, Canada, Mesg ID 429200143709


Responses:
Someone will probably try and post some response about coloring of the skin being complimentary or not, so let me try and stop such nonsense before it starts. The best way to answer your question is to say that most men look good in suits. It may be that you have had more instance to notice a black man in a purple suit, a rare experience on the whole, because some black men will tend to wear colored suits to stand out in a crowd. Being originally from Louisiana, where purple is one of the official state colors, I've had a chance to see several men of both races in purple suits. The better-looking the man, the better-looking the suit.

POSTED 5/2/2001

Amanda, Boston, MA, United States, 21, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 51200151136


It's perfectly normal to use one's coloring as being complementary to what one wears. Fair people may not look as good in one as darker people in the same outfit. It's normal, Amanda. Please take your ultra-political correctness somewhere else.

POSTED 5/3/2001

C.C., Somewhere, NA, Canada, Female, Asian, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 53200133131


It's normal for people to have different opinions, even if that means they disagree with you, C.C. Please take your self-righteous attitude somewhere else and stop acting like your opinions are absolute truth.

POSTED 5/7/2001

D.D., San Francisco, CA, United States, Asian, Mesg ID 542001105142


I don't think it's nonesense to state that skin coloring does play a role in what colors look good. A white woman and a black woman are not always able to wear the same color of lipstick and look good in that shade. Therefore, it stands to reason that skin tone makes a difference. Darker skin can carry a brighter (for instance, orange) or deeper color (like purple) better without being overwhelmed by it. Perhaps that's why the colorful Kente cloth patterns were invented by Africans.

POSTED 5/7/2001

Cassandra, Chicago, IL, United States, 36, Female, Black/African American, Administrator, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 56200190500


Actually it's not silly to say the color of skin affects what colors look good, or perhaps I should say better on someone depending on the skin tone. I think also the shade of purple matters. I think darker shades of purple look best on darker skin tones. This may just be personal taste, but I see a parallel between your question and the fact that certain shades of makeup look better on certain skin tones; otherwise the fairest white skin and the darkest skin tones would or could wear the same shade of makeup and look just as good. I certainly think the winter/fall/spring/summer hues that makeup comes in justifies this opinion as to different skin tones looking best in certain shades of color. Certain colors complement certain skin tones better. I think with all the different shades of skin people have, it's not really a black/white issue with regard to wearing purple (or any other color) but more an issue of your skin tone. Deeper, richer colors seem to bring out the best in darker skin, and of course the opposite is true for lighter skin. I'm sure we all wear clothes in many different colors, but aren't there certain colors that seem to add a glow to or complement your complexion more so than others?

POSTED 5/7/2001

Sheryl, Warner Robins, GA, United States, 39, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, school social services, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 562001115639

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Question:

Why do most guys discriminate against gay guys but not lesbians?

POSTED 5/1/2001

Jennifer M., Central Square, NY, United States, 15, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 51200153929


Responses:
Generally, straight men, for some reason, feel the need to continually prove their masculinity and manlihood to other males. It's like they live their entire life trying to justify their heterosexuality. Call a straight man gay and just watch the reaction. On the other hand, most straight guys get off on even the idea of lesbians; this, in no way, questions their masculinity. They think it strengthens it. It's not fair, but it's the way it is.

POSTED 5/7/2001

A.N., London, NA, United Kingdom, <adam4peace.yahoo.ocm>, 23, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 54200141303


To A.N.: The male ego is a very sad, dangerous thing. That was written very well - straight to the point!

POSTED 5/11/2001

Lisa, Gaithersburg, MD, United States, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Mesg ID 510200194902


At its most basic, this question is resolved biologically, and I hope I'm not offending anyone. We live in a patriachal society. However, straight men have anuses. The anus is an erogenous zone, regardless of sexual orientation. Gay men have penises. There is always the implied threat of vulnerability. Another implied threat is the fear of some straight men that they may potentially be gay, whereas, they cannot, obviously, be lesbian.

POSTED 5/7/2001

Ben S., London, NA, United Kingdom, <bscaro@hotmail.com>, 32, Male, Rosicrucian, White/Caucasian, Gay, traveler, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 57200135529


Gay men are seen as a sexual threat, no matter how subconscious that thought may be. Lesbians, however, are 'safe.'

POSTED 5/11/2001

Sarah, San Francisco, CA, United States, 23, Female, Agnostic, Asian, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 58200113418


I don't hate gays, but the best thing I can come up with is that if you are straight and love women, wouldn't it be cool to have two women? Also, the man does not feel threatened. And third, it's just a man thing, you know, like drinkin' beer, watchin' sports, etc. Gay men are just a threat to straight men altogether, because women can relate to gay men more then straight men can - that's why they hate gay men.

POSTED 5/11/2001

Randall F., Purchas, NY, United States, <ask_weasal@yahoo.com>, 23, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 511200190445

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Question:

I am an African-American woman with naturally long hair, slightly above my waist. I wash my hair nearly every day, and shave. Why is it that other black women don't shave or wash their hair often? I've heard from other women that daily hair washing strips the scalp of natural oils, but that is untrue. Hair is hair and requires daily washing, just like every other part of the body. It seems like most black women have short hair, but maybe if they wash it it will grow.

POSTED 5/2/2001

Kimberly, Austin, TX, United States, 27, Female, Muslim, Black/African American, Straight, housewife, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 512001102154


Responses:
Black hair is quite fragile; in fact, it's more fragile than hair of other ethnicities. Most blacks have dry scalps, thus washing it DOES strip away what bit of oil we have. Perhaps you don't find this to be true because it's not the case with you. Personally, I find it best to wash, condition and hot-oil my hair and scalp twice a week.

POSTED 5/3/2001

K.C. Tate, Jacksonville, FL, United States, 28, Female, paralegal, Mesg ID 52200165320


We've been through this countless times on this site; not EVERYONE, regardless of race, washes their hair every day. It is a matter of need and personal hygiene, not race. If you need to wash your hair, wash it. If you have poor hygiene, then you don't wash it. Race is not an issue. And you do know genetics are a huge factor in hair growth, don't you? I, too, have longer hair and I wash it once a week. If I were to wash my hair more than once a week, it would be completely dried out and damaged. Not only that, but I would be dog sick and always running late, because my hair is very thick and takes forever to wash and air-dry, so not only is washing it once a week the best for MY hair, it is also convenient. Any hairstylist will tell you hair only needs to be washed when it is dirty. Excessive hair-washing leads to damage, breakage and oil buildup. I don't know if you get out much, but you will see many women of all races with short hair. My black grandmother used to sit on her hair and chooses to keep it cut short, as does my mother. As far as shaving goes, I shave. I don't pay attention to who shaves and who doesn't and what race they are, but again, it's a matter of choice and personal hygiene. Julia Roberts and Paula Cole have been known to sport underarm hair, and they're certainly not black. So, to get to the point, it is a matter of choice, personal hygiene, and need - not race. What works for you may not work for others.

POSTED 5/3/2001

Lisa, Gaithersburg, MD, United States, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Mesg ID 522001111141


I'm a little concerned with the self-satisfied tone of your post. Despite your contention to the contrary, most black hair does not benefit from daily washing. In fact, overexposure to water tends to have a drying effect, such that the hair becomes brittle and breaks much more easily. Women who maintain that daily washing depletes the natural oils of the scalp are telling it like it is. Really, who are you to assume that you know better about someone ELSE'S hair? If your hair grows the way you say, you likely have a different texutre, to which the standard rules of black hair care may not apply. Well, good for you. But that doesn't qualify you to give advice to everyone. I wouldn't be so proud, if I were you. Your hair is probably due to genetics, and not to any superior knowledge about haircare that you seem to percieve that you have. As far as shaving is concerned, there are a lot of women who don't, of all ethnicities. There could be a variety of reasons: lack of vanity, the idea that if it grows 'there', it belongs 'there', and a fact that may surprise you--some black men like a hairy woman.

POSTED 5/3/2001

Jennifer, St. Paul, MN, United States, 30, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 53200195230


To Jennifer: I agree with your contention that this is thinly disguised biasing. This is an attempt to use personal vanity to lord it over the heads of those who do not possess that same quality. I despise the undertone of this originator's commentary because, to me, this dates back to the slavemaster's theory of 400 years ago. The contention was that blacks will perpetuate their own slave mentality if you 1) Pit blacks on the hill against blacks down in the valley; 2) Pit blacks in the valley against blacks up the hill; 3) Pit Mulatto against the French-born blacks; 4) Pit African-speaking against English-speaking; 5) Pit freed slave against 'House Niggahs'; 6) Pit 'field niggahs' against 'House Niggahs'; and 7) Pit every slave with a feature different than any other slave against any and every other slave to upset them about their feature(s). In doing so, it was projected that the institution of slavery would last nearly 200 years. It lasted well over 400 years and, after reading this originator's commentary, it seems the principle is still alive and functioning today. There was no need for this post. This person is 'color' vain and should have kept her vanity in silence, because it added nothing to the noble purpose of this site. Now, if you want to talk race and ethnicity with any frankness, Y Forum should get a staff willing to take on the BS entries BEFORE they post them. In a great number of the more interesting posts, people have made sincere statements toward understanding what contributes to many downfalls in communication that halt our open discussions about race and ethnicity. Basically, BS is more interesting to read than substance. People are just people; and we go through so much BS just to be ourselves that it hinders progress. BS, in whatever form, is designed to slow...delay progress, and constipate the truth.

POSTED 5/7/2001

G.W. Pettiford, Lake Ridge, VA, United States, 45, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Opinionated, Executive Administrator, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 57200125831


How you can say 'hair is hair' is beyond me. Take a look around you - hair comes in many different textures and lengths. Some hair is naturally oily, other hair is naturally dry. Maintenance is not the same for all hair types. Nor does the frequency of washing hair have anything to do with hair growth. Many African-American women have naturally dry, course, thick hair. Also, many African-American women relax or process their hair, making it even drier. Daily washing could make dry, processed hair brittle and cause breakage. For me, washing my shoulder-length hair twice per week is plenty. By the way, I have no interest in having waist-length hair, and I'd be willing to bet that many of my African-American sisters feel the same way.

POSTED 5/7/2001

Alicia, Pensacola, FL, United States, 32, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 542001104629


Most black women do not wear their hair in its natural state. They don't want it to be coarse and hard to comb - commonly called 'nappy.' Instead, they relax it with chemicals, or even press it with a hot comb, to make it straight. Then it must be blow-dried, and curled with a curling iron. These procedures are very time-consuming to do or have done, and can be expensive if performed in a beauty shop. So in order to maintain them as long as possible, they don't want to wet the hair. (Wetting it makes it 'go back' to its natural state.) Therefore, washing the hair daily is impractical. I wear my hair in a short natural, and so I can wash it daily, but generally do it every other day.

POSTED 5/7/2001

Cassandra, Chicago, IL, United States, 36, Female, Black/African American, Administrator, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 56200185552


Washing your hair every day does strip the scalp of natural oils, no matter what your ethnicity is. Many black women have perms, weaves or extensions that can be kept clean and tidy with daily maintenance and a scarf to sleep in at night. I know many white women with long, thick curls who don't wash their hair every day because it is too much to deal with, also. As a black woman, I know that most black women (particularly with thick, tight curls) do not wash their hair every day for the same reasons. I wash my locs once a week. Your hair shouldn't get 'dirty' unless you are rolling around in dirt on a regular basis.

POSTED 5/7/2001

Samm, Boston, MA, United States, 36, Female, New Age/Metaphysical, Black/African American, Straight, office manager/artist, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 52200164700


The implication behind your comments about hairwashing and shaving is that black women do not have good hygiene. Since you are a black woman, I am disappointed that you show such contempt for your own people. Most black women cannot just wash our hair, shake it dry and go one about our business. Since slavery, caring for our hair has been a serious challenge because of cultural expectations about what our hair is supposed to look like. As a result, 90 percent of black women in this country have some sort of relaxer. The relaxer seriously weakens the hair shaft, so the hair cannot be manipulated the same as virgin hair. The hair is so fragile that it's difficult for many women to grow relaxed hair past their shoulders without significant breakage. When relaxed hair is washed, it must be roller-set and dried, or blow-dried and curled with a curling iron. Either way, if your hair is medium to long, you're talking about spending up to 90 minutes of your time on hair. Since most black women are working outside the home and/or raising children, carving out 90 minutes of time every day just for washing and styling hair is unrealistic. In addition, even when hair is relaxed, the texture does not permit hair oils to coat the entire hair shaft. For someone with fine, straight hair, daily washing is a must, because the hair can appear greasy sooner because the oil travels faster down the hair shaft. Most relaxed hair is VERY dry, because several layers of cuticle are stripped from the hair shaft during the relaxing process. Because the hair is so weak, it means that washing once or twice a week is not only appropriate, but recommended by hair care professionals. As for the shaving, some black women don't shave their underarms or legs for the same reason some black men don't shave their faces: They are prone to painful razor bumps where the hair curls back into the skin. It's not worth that sort of pain just for cosmetic reasons, so they don't bother.

POSTED 5/7/2001

Cindy, Topeka, KS, United States, 35, Female, African Methodist Episcopalian, Black/African American, Straight, Manager, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 53200154450


I wash my shoulder-length hair a couple of times a week, and the reason I don't wash it every day is that it's too time-consuming. Between washing, conditioning, drying and styling, it takes more than an hour to do my hair, and I don't want to spend that much time on it. Furthermore, most African-American women's hair is NOT wash-and-go. Wearing my hair the way I want requires heat styling (blowdryer, curling iron, flatiron, etc.), which is damaging to the hair, and shouldn't be done every day. Very few people's hair, of any race, needs to be washed every day (barring frequent workouts, work in a dusty environment, etc.). Scalps and hair washed every day get greasy because they are 'trained' to recondition with oil after being washed. If the hair is washed less frequently, it will adjust its own level of oil to the frequency of washing.

POSTED 5/7/2001

Jennifer, Washington, DC, United States, 25, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 53200162847


Underlying your comment is an assumption that all black or African-American woman have the same grade of hair. As you should know, the term African American applies to several shades of color, several racial mixes, etc. The difference is as simple as straight vs. kinky, thick vs. fine: genetics. Caucoid hair produces more oil than Africoid hair. This is a function of environment and necessity. In Europe, a colder climate, oily hair provided insulation. In Africa, a warmer climate, this insulation was not needed. Therefore, the need to wash one's hair every day is necessitated by the increased oil production and the increased dirt that oil can trap. On the other hand, women with more Africoid hair would strip their hair of essential oils if they washed it every day. This is especially true if a woman relaxes her hair, a process that is particularly damaging. Is it possible that your hair is more Caucoid than Africoid? Do you relax your hair, flat comb your hair or wear it natural? The answers to these questions make a difference in how much oil your hair produces. I have to relax my hair every three to four weeks, whereas other African-American female friends relax their hair every four to six months. That is a difference in the grade of hair. You also assume that all women want long hair. Is it so inconceivable that some people like the shorter-cropped style? I think it would behoove you to look at the world from different standpoints than your own. Just because you can wash your hair every day does not mean everyone else could - or should. It is obvious to me from your question that your exposure to other African Americans, other than your family, must be quite limited. I am quite used to explaining this difference to my Caucasian friends, but I never expected to explain this to a 'sister.' I bet you grew up in all-white neighborhoods, like I did, but never had the chance to branch out and meet others of the same race, the same socioeconomic background and with the same goals and aspirations as yourself. How sad.

POSTED 5/11/2001

Christie, New Orleans, LA, United States, 25, Female, African Methodist Episcopalian, Black/African American, Straight, Medical Student, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 510200190747

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Question:

New York City is undoubtedly one of the most diverse places in the world. Every race, religion, ethnicity and culture imaginable calls the Big Apple home, so I don't understand why it seems to be so racially segregated and has so much racial tension. I find it more perplexing being that NYC has ALWAYS been this way. How long ago was the Southern black migration? How long ago was the great Irish and Jewish immigration? I'd think with this being nothing new, people would have learned by now to tolerate and accept each other. POSTED 4/29/2001

Lisa, Gaithersburg, MD, United States, Female, Mesg ID 429200132650


Responses:
It's called tribalism. People have a natural tendency to stick to their own. I live in L.A., which is as diverse (if not moreso) as New York, and racial tension can get pretty crazy here. Basically, when you're an immigrant from Russia fresh off the boat, you can't exactly go live in Little India because you'll stand out like a sore thumb, and you need people to latch on to for support. This will most readily come from people similar to the individual, namely other Russians. Same deal if a refugee from El Salvador attempts to homeshop in Encino (upscale white/Jewish neighborhood) or a Nigerian newcomer tries to settle in the middle of Thai Town. This need for solidarity is understandable, because it means the difference between sinking and swimming. However, competition for jobs and space causes conflict, as well as culture clashes. As for the case of long-established groups in L.A. (Mexican Americans, blacks, whites, Jews) there is much interaction, and the younger the generation, the less walls there are for the most part (save geographic ones). Yet there is still a long way to go, as 150 years of ongoing Los Angeles racial conflict can't be undone in a short amount of time.

POSTED 5/14/2001

Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 22, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 52200151949

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