Best of the Week
Of May 17, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 17, 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:
GE30: My girlfriend always gets on my case for "checking out" other women. She told me recently that she thinks there are fewer good-looking guys than good-looking women. After paying closer attention, I almost agree. Does anyone else agree, or do males look more because we are hornier and/or just pay more attention?
POSTED MAY 17, 1998
Jeremy, 19, white male <
Jeremy@cac.net>, Detroit, MI

ANSWER 1:
I agree: There are more good-looking women than men. I noticed this when I was in grade school, and again in the work force. If you even look at male models, most are not "handsome" but would instead be considered "good looking." The only explanation I can think of is that more women are willing to work at being good looking than men are.
POSTED MAY 20, 1998
Apryl P., black <
apryl@mail-me.com>, Oak Park, MI
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THE QUESTION:
RE53: Is the "Year of Jubilee" intended just for Israel, or worldwide?
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Julie J., 39, Ypsilanti, MI

ANSWER 1:
The "Year of Jubliee" refers to the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel. However, "Year of Jubilee" is loaned from the Bible. There, it is referred to as a special year that occurs every 50 years. By that year, all slaves are freed, and all lands go back to their original owners, etc. The Jewish people long ago lost count of the Jubilee. They haven't ,though, lost count of the "Shmita," which occurs every seven years, at which time all land-work is forbidden (in Israel only).
POSTED MAY 20, 1998
Efrat N., Jerusalem, Israel

FURTHER NOTICE:
I would have to answer by saying yes and yes. Isreal is made up of 12 tribes. The state of Isreal is home to the tribe of Judah, only one of the twelve. The rest are worldwide.
POSTED MAY 20, 1998
Michael H., <
mlh63@hotmail.com>, Nashville, Tenn.
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THE QUESTION:
R158: I am an American teaching in Japan. My students sometimes ask me if it's true that Japanese women have the reputation (outside of Japan) of being "easy" sexually. I had never heard this before. Have others heard this?
POSTED APRIL 6, 1998
Joseph S., 35 <
shaules@rikkyo.ac.jp>, Tokyo

ANSWER 1:
I live and work in Japan. I have heard this stereotype about Japanese women before - quite a bit before I arrived and even more since then. I believe this image flourishes because of a misconception that sexual behavior in Japan is influenced by the fact that Christianity is a minority religion here. While I am willing to acknowledge that in my experience there is less of an "immoral" stigma in Japan to having many partners, I don't think this is any different from the United States. Many have the misconception that being Christian "equals" being sexually moral, while not being a Christian means having looser sexual values. I have come across many missionary personnel working in Japan, and they seem to have this opinion.
POSTED MAY 20, 1998
Tom <
tmjast@hotmail.com>, Japan
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THE QUESTION:
R47: Lately I have heard that some minority groups are upset with the Taco Bell commercial that features the little dog. What exactly is the problem, and is it worth pulling the comercial?
POSTED MARCH 19, 1998
M. Melville <
mark@high-eng.com>, Howell, MI
(Similar question posted April 15, 1998, by T. Mc., Irish, of Detroit)

ANSWER 1:
Some Hispanics, especially Mexican Americans, feel offended by the Taco Bell commercial because of its symbolism. The Chihuahua is Mexican, and many Hispanics feel the ad is making fun of this particular "culture or country" by using the dog for advertising purposes. It might look funny to most of us, but if you place yourself in their shoes, you might understand the offensiveness. A similar thing happened with one of the last Seinfeld episodes, in which Kramer burned a Puerto Rican flag by accident. This was very offensive to many Puerto Ricans. As a result, the Puerto Rican Association expressed its discontent with the scene, and NBC apologized. It might not be the same, but it shows that mocking and making fun of other people might not be funny for everybody - something we should respect as human beings.
M.T., Puerto Rican female <
cafe539@aol.com>, Lawton, OK

FURTHER NOTICE:
To M.T.: Advertisers have been using animals in general, and "talking dogs" in particular, to hawk products since forever. I seached my local paper and found two activists who claim the ads are offensive, but neither says exactly why. What is using the chihuahua supposed to symbolize?
POSTED MAY 21, 1998
Jay B., 38, black male <
jayboyd@ameritech.net>, Detroit, MI
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THE QUESTION:
R271: I plan to go through medical school within the next two to three years. I am without a mate and am afraid that if I meet and marry someone who is not African American, I will be looked upon as a typical "brotha" who made it and then shunned his "sistas," when that would not be the case at all. Should I make extra efforts to be with a woman of color, or should finding true love in any form be my No. 1 priority?
POSTED MAY 15, 1998
Traye O., 24, African American <
doctraye@aol.com>, Seattle, WA

ANSWER 1:
I think love is color-blind. Choosing someone because they are of a particular ethnic or religious background is detrimental to the pursuit of true happiness. I have found that not limiting my spousal selection to my racial backround has been the best decision of my life. I think it might be in your best interests to ask yourself if you are strong enough to deal with the prejudice that you need to face with someone outside of your ethnic background. But remember, if you are true to your heart, then dating someone of a different ethnic or religious background won't be selling out.
POSTED MAY 20, 1998
T. Jazz <
tmjast@hotmail.com>, Morioka, Iwate, Japan

FURTHER NOTICE:
Finding true love is your priority. However, it seems you already have it in your mind that you will not find a black woman. If you want a "sista" you will find one, but if you choose to date or marry outside of your race, there will be plenty of choices, especially as a black doctor. Statistics show that interracial dating and marriages are on the rise dramatically, especially among black men and white women.
POSTED MAY 21, 1998
T. Spen, black female <
auset2be@aol.com>, Largo, MD
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THE QUESTION:
C1: I was in a grocery store and noticed several people in the checkout lanes with thick gold jewelry and expensive Nike apparel. The thing that got me was that they were paying with food stamps. Even their small children were wearing expensive clothes. Why is this?
POSTED MARCH 23, 1998
Jessica G., Lake Orion , MI

ANSWER 1:
The food stamps could have come at any time. The expensive clothing and jewelry could have been theirs before they had the need for the food stamps. Or, they could have received these things as gifts. They may not have been as expensive as you think. Knock-offs, cheap imitations. If you believed the users of those Government-issued stamps were doing so under false pretenses, you should have reported them to the authorities. But what would you have reported? Remember: There is no way for you to know when, or how, they got their clothing or jewelry. Or under what grounds they were issued the coupons
POSTED MARCH 24, 1998
Apryl P., black <
apryl@mail-me.com>
Oak Park, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
While I understand Apryl's answer, I know that I too have made similiar judgments when I have seen people apparently misuse foodstamps. Most people making such judgments are not necessarily prejudiced and/or racist. It's probably the jealousy that exists in all human beings, some more than in others. For those inclined to pre-judge people, it enables them to add a little piece of truthful evidence to their existing paradigm of people.
POSTED APRIL 9, 1998
Tim, 53, white male <
timwise@dgs.net>
Arlington, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
It is a reflection of society's emphasis on the acquisition for material and designer items. People on welfare or receiving food stamps are no different from those of us who work for our paychecks. Their visions of the American dream are no different. They want the nice house, clothes, cars and money, too. The accumulation of jewelry and designer clothes is a way of trying to realize those goals.
POSTED APRIL 13, 1998
Suzie, 26 <
Ebonique@msn.com>
Queens, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Using food stamps does not mean you don't work - most of the time it means you are having hard times and need help. For example, I needed help for a while because my ex-husband does not pay child support, and I saw people looking at me negatively, even after a hard day's work. We seem to judge our fellow Americans so much by what they have. We need to pay attention to what we can do to help more.
POSTED MAY 20, 1998
White female, 39, Jacksonville, FL
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THE QUESTION:
SO35: Why don't Christians who use Leviticus 20:13 to justify their belief that homosexuality is a sin not advocate the death penalty for active gays, as that Bible passage commands?
POSTED MAY 17, 1998
David O., 31, gay, agnostic, Nashville, TN

ANSWER 1:
I am a Christian heterosexual male who has a "live and let live" attitude, i.e., I'm not a pulpit pounder and don't get in other peoples' faces about my religion. Some people who call themselves Christians use ambiguities in the Bible to alienate people they don't like. I recently saw a group of protestors on the local news with "God hates fags" signs. What ever happened to "love thy neighbor"?
POSTED MAY 21, 1998
Mark, 23, Christian heterosexual male, Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
A lot of Christians lack a real understanding of the Bible and enjoy quoting scriptures that back up what they already believe. Lots of people say they follow the 10 Commandments, but I bet no one in America can say they "observe the Sabbath day (Saturday) by keeping it holy" and not working (Commandment 4, Deuteronomy 5:12). I don't think anyone can reasonably argue that Christians must follow the laws of the Old Testament but can decide which ones we think we should follow. Christians attack gays so much because most of us aren't tempted by that sin, and therefore it's easy to criticize others who are. I think this needs to change, but I also think that Biblically, practicing homosexuality is a sin and should be looked at in the same light as any other sin - as something God wants to help us stop doing.
POSTED MAY 21, 1998
Scott H., Christian, 19, Irving, TX

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THE QUESTION:
R60: I would like to know why black people refer to themselves as African American. I am of Canadian descent but I don't refer to myself as a French American or Canadian American.
POSTED MARCH 20, 1998
R. Dandeneau, 52, white male, Georgia.

ANSWER 1:
Africans in America have been searching for their own identity since their history has been negated and they realized they were never going home again. We have gone from Negro to black to Afro-American to African American and back to black. I am offended by being called African American, particularly when others of non-American descent find no need to attach "American" to their heritage.
POSTED MARCH 24, 1998
Myra, African, 42, Milwaukee, WI

FURTHER NOTICE:
Good point. I�ve been Negro (on my birth certificate), Colored, black and now African American. Do you think they put this to a vote? I may wake up tomorrow and be a man of color. Why not a man of kindness. I kind�ve like the term black. And that�s the term I will use. So feel free to call me a black man and I will acknowledge you. Call me African American and I will probably ignore you. Call me an American and I will be your good friend. Most blacks know very little about the real Africans. I know a few Africans, and many Africans don�t even like black Americans. The word "black" does causes a few minor problems to whites not exposed to blacks, but it�s not a big problem. When my son was in pre-school, one of the counselors insisted to my son that his skin color was black. He said it was brown. I had explained to her that his race is black, but his skin color was indeed brown.
Jeffrey S., 42, black <
starkej@aol.com>, Pensacola, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Jeffrey makes a good point. I realize all of us should be proud of our heritage, but I think terms like African-American or European-American or Asian-American tend to be divisive. If you were born in America or became a citizen, you're American. We should not have to state the obvious for fear of not being politically correct. If I see you're black, I know you have African heritage. If you'd see me, you'd know I have European heritage, etc. I would love to see the day when we are all comfortable enough with each other and our differences to not have to worry about these types of classifications.
POSTED MAY 17, 1998
S.M., 31, white male, Detroit, MI
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THE QUESTION:
R268: My wife says blacks at her work have confided to her that blacks envy blacks who are lighter-skinned than themselves. They told her the lighter you are, the more desirable you are, and the darker you are, the less desirable. Has anyone else encountered this belief?
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Dirtydog 53, white male <
dirtydog@globalsite.net>, Richmond, IN

ANSWER 1:
Your wife heard correctly: There was/is a prejudice in the black community that favors those with lighter skin. I'm trying to remember an old rhyme, if I'm off I hope someone will correct me: "If you're white/light(?), you're all right. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black, get back!"

This dates back to the slavery era. My guess is that after constantly being bombarded with the notion that black equals inferior, the notion eventually took hold in the minds of the slaves. Therefore, those blacks who inherited physical features more typical of their masters came to be seen as more attractive.

Among the free black population, prior to and after the Civil War, those who inhabited the black upper-classes tended to be lighter-skinned. And fortunes were made on cosmetics that would lighten skin and straighten hair. Even today, if one takes the time to watch a few black music videos, one will notice that very few "sisterlyl-sisters" are cast to shake their moneymakers in front of the camera.
POSTED MAY 17, 1998
Jay B., black male <
jayboyd@ameritech.net>, Detroit, MI
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