Best of the Week
of May 23, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 23, 1999, as selected by Y? These
postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our 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. 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.


Question:
Why are there services for men to search for wives in foreign countries, but none for women to search for husbands?
POSTED 5/27/99
Char L., Eugene, OR, United States, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Disability Evaluator, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 5269990434
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Question:
I had heard that hair is as important to African American women as body image is to white women. Is this true?
POSTED 2/22/99
Amy H., N/A, KS, United States, 22, Female, Mesg ID 2229940300

Responses:
I believe that in this culture of the commercials for shiny, swinging, witchcraft, 'Breck Girl' hair, the struggle most black women have gone through/are going through with hair 'problems' remains a subject both touchy and personal - our "dirty little secret."

On the professional front, natural, African-textured hair has traditionally not been acceptable (over the years, people have become a bit more enlightened about it). The sad thing is that on more personal levels, many black people do not accept African-textured hair. Sneers of 'nappy head,' 'bald-headed,' 'you need a perm' or worse have been directed toward black women who dared not wear other peoples' hair or dared not to perm or otherwise straighten their hair. Those are blatant examples of the lessons of self-hatred that have been reinforced in us for so long.

It's heartbreaking to see baby girls with piles of hair attached to their heads because their natural hair is not accepted. I am glad more and more black women are realizing their natural beauty and accepting and treating their 'unmanageable' hair as the crowing glory it is. We don't have to mimic the white look to be beautiful. For the black women with naturally straighter or looser-curled hair, it is indeed beautiful, and so is my tighter-curled, thick and course hair. I am happy in my decision to "go natural."
POSTED 5/27/99
Siobhan, Baltimore, MD, United States, <siobhan_101@hotmail.com> , Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 5279963521
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Question:
To Muslims: Do you generally view Christians as enemies?
POSTED 5/27/99
Matt S., San Diego, CA, United States, Male, Christian, Mesg ID 5279961610
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Question:
Should high school teachers have the right to punish students for merely demonstrating their right of free speech, including using "bad language"?
POSTED 5/27/99
Jack R., Sutter Creek, CA, United States, <dantone@cdepot.net> , 17, Male, High school student, Mesg ID 5279962454
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Question:
Why do joints occasionally pop and crack when they are flexed? What causes the noise?
POSTED 5/12/99
James J., Laguna Beach, CA, United States, <jgjlaw@earthlink.net> , 50, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 5129971441

Responses:
DIRECTOR'S NOTE: Y? contacted chiropractor Jerome F. McAndrews, national spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association in Arlington, VA. Here is his response:

When the surface of one joint is moved rather rapidly along the surface of the joint with which it is articulating, it theoretically breaks a vacuum that is present between the two surfaces, which are wet with a lubricating fluid (in normal joint tissues). This rapid change in the internal pressure in the joint causes the audible sound - or cavitation - to occur; a 'pop,' if you will. It is most often heard when a person 'cracks' his/her knuckles. The same principle is at work in a spinal joint. The sound is indicative of motion having been produced between the two surfaces of the articulation.
POSTED 5/26/99
Jerome F. McAndrews, Arlington, VA, United States, Male, Spokesman, American Chiropractic Association, Mesg ID 52699100739
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Question:
I'm an Asian girl living in Sweden. My parents emigrated from Vietnam but are Chinese. There is sort of an Asian community here in my city, but it's a bit ghetto-like. My family is better off financially, so we live in an all-Swede/white suburb. For that reason, and the fact that my father persisted in making sure his children learn Swedish properly, my Chinese is very poor. I understand it, but I can't speak Chinese. My self-confidence is greatly affected; I am very ashamed that I can't speak my mother tongue, and my parents' friends also say I should be. I was wondering if there is greater acceptance of this problem in the United States, or if Asians all over the world demand that their children be fluent in Chinese? Also, does anyone my age have the same problem? If so, please write to me.
POSTED 5/26/99
Mandy, N/A, NA, Sweden, <mandis_@hotmail.com> , 18, Female, Asian, Student, Mesg ID 5149921506
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Question:
I have heard single friends and acquaintances (basically white-collar, middle-class people) say they would prefer not to date blue-collar, working-class people; that numerous differences in values and goals are just too difficult to overcome to try to make such a relationship successful. Moreover, an invisible boundary line seems to separate union workers from salaried employees, even if earning similar incomes. How common and valid is this attitude? I would like to hear from others about their experiences - good or bad - with dating or maintaining romantic relationships with people from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
POSTED 1/11/99
DykeOnByke, Southfield, MI, United States, <DykeOnByke@aol.com> , Female, Engineer, Mesg ID 1119963645

Responses:
Call me elitist, but I would not date or marry someone outside my class. I divorced someone who was blue-collar and had only some college, while I'm white-collar, upper-middle class and have a master's degree plus. For me it's the issue of sensibility: I really disliked my working-class ex-husband's sense of fatalism, his poor-mouthing, martyr stance of being exploited by the haves while he was a have-not. I disliked his complacency and lack of taking advantage of opportuniities for advancement (he was a college police officer; every year he was given three free credits and never took a class). I met my current husband online, on an e-mail discussion list for literature. What I like about him is his literary temperament and sensibility, and his creativeness. His education and his being extremely well-read make him more open to other options in life, as well as a better creative thinker. Also, my ex-husband was incredibly insecure and basically asexual. (I think he was clinically depressed and possibly latently gay but couldn't deal with it.) I've found for myself, having grown up in the South, that blue-collar, lower-middle class and below people are extremely rigid about gender roles and sexuality. For example, the more education one has, the more one is open to and willing to experiment with sex. As always, there are exceptions; people can't be classified. But in summary, for me it's a matter of temperament, sensibility and cultural programming ... and let's not forget money: The more you have, the more options in life you have. The less you have, the fewer options. And poverty or wealth tends to colors one's perception of the world.
POSTED 5/24/99
Katie, Los Angeles, CA, United States, <pusskat1@yahoo.com> , 31, Female, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight but not narrow, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 5229970409

I resent the stereotypes made about the working class. If you spent more time with those lower than you (as you seem to see them), you'd find that many blue-collar workers are fully able to converse about subjects other than fast cars and beer, and that most of them have a better grasp on the reality of daily life than you educated folk do. As a temp worker, I am consistently amazed at how little the "educated," upper class, white collar people I work with know about anything other than how to keep their picket fences white and their lawns perfectly green. These are people who make more a year than I do in five, yet wouldn't know the difference between Bukowski and Berkowitz and believe that Turkey is nothing more than something you have on Thanksgiving. I refuse to limit myself to one class when I make decisions about who to spend time with. You can learn so much just by expanding your horizons just a little bit. As far as money is concerned, if that is your criteria in choosing another person, then I feel sorry for you. There is so much more to life than overpriced theater tickets, expensive restaurants and trips to the South of France.
POSTED 5/26/99
Brian, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 33, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Temp Slave, 4 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 5269930331
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Question:
Earlier this month, the Makah Indians participated in a traditional hunt of the gray whale. There was a great deal of protest during the hunt, and also a great deal of criticism after the fact. Do you think the Makah had the right to hunt the whale? Or do you think the criticism was valid?
POSTED 5/24/99
John K., Cranford, NJ, United States, <the-macs@geocities.com> , 25, Male, Chemical Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 5219984021

Responses:
On the surface it would seem that the Makah did have the right to hunt the whales. After all, it was tradition. The problem lies in the fact that they voluntarily stopped the tradition 70 years ago, before there were any "Save the Whale"-type movements. I am a firm believer in tradition, but since the Makah stopped it themselves, I do not think they should have been allowed to hunt the whales. The fact that they are endangered is another reason they should not have. The whale is no longer necessary for their survival.
POSTED 5/24/99
Jeni B., Boston, MA, United States, 33, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Technician, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5249940411
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Question:
As a black homeowner in a racially mixed subdivision, I've noticed that my Caucasian neighbors spend much more time on lawn care. Do Caucasians see lawn care as basic home maintenance, or is it more of a hobby?
POSTED 5/20/99
Carolyn L., Indianapolis, IN, United States, 36, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Manager, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 52099112237

Responses:
I too live in a racially mixed neighborhood. Actually, it's mixed in other ways too, which is what makes it fun for me. And I don't understand why different people become so obsessed with lawns. In my neighborhood, I think that the difference has more to do with whether people have a "suburban lawn" or an "urban, ivy, flowers and other ground covers" mentality. Yesterday, one of my colleagues, who's black, told me that when house-hunting with her husband (also black), she was appalled when he said any house with a big yard would mean he'd have to buy a tractor and riding mower. And a big yard meant one as small as a quarter-acre. So maybe it's a guy thing.
POSTED 5/22/99
Tom L., Washington, DC, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 52199112542

I am Caucasian, and I have noticed the inordinate amount of time, money, and chemical products that people use to maintain lawns. I live in an area that is 98 percent Caucasian. However, I rebelled against what I see as a ridiculous pursuit to have a perfect yard. We built a house in a rural area after leaving a suburban subdivision where a perfect lawn was expected by the neighbors. Because our lawn had weeds, and we hated the idea of chemicals, our white next-door neighbor yelled and screamed until we finally sold the house because of her. Ironically, the best-looking yard belonged to the only black family in the area. Their yard actually won an award from the town for "best-looking lawn." They even had beautiful bonsais growing in their yard. Although I've given this subject plenty of thought, I never associated it as a racial phenomenon.
POSTED 5/22/99
Helen S., Corvallis, OR, United States, 43, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Upper class, Mesg ID 5219995612

Historically, white Americans have obsessed on their lawns and home exteriors. This is also a generational thing, as the 1950s "Keeping up with the Joneses" mentality is now that of the retirement generation. In our situation, we are thirty-something and live in a largely retirement-age community (we like our house and like the location). There are scads of homeowners association regulations, and we do just what we have to for compliance. We have other priorities. Left to our own devices, we'd probably just let weeds flourish and not force grass to grow where it doesn't want to. We use a simple manual lawn mower. To sum up, it's not so much a racial thing as it is generational and also based on how much you care what other people think when they drive by. We'd prefer people judge us by the content of the character we aspire to, rather than what we have or what our house looks like.
POSTED 5/22/99
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 38, Male, Traditional (Pre-Vatican II) Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 52299123424

As a white person, I believe lawn care is basic home maintenance. Gardening is a hobby. Lawn care is not. If one does not have a nice looking yard, it does not look good. I was in a black neighborhood. I assume it was black because the person I visited was black, plus the look of some of the houses and yards. There was a car on the front lawn! Some houses looked run-down. Grass on some lawns was a foot high. As wrong as it is to think this, I was uneasy about leaving my brand new car out on the street in that neighborhood. Now, I live walking distance from a black neighborhood. It's a nice area. Most of the houses and yards look great and immaculate.
POSTED 5/22/99
Beth G., Selden, NY, United States, <bethina@myworldmail.com> , 25, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Production assistant, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5229915834
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Question:
I know of a teacher who is deliberately providing historically inaccurate information about the role of minority groups in building this nation. How does one handle this within the school systems?
POSTED 5/20/99
Sarah, Athens, AL, United States, <ss464296@oak.cats.ohiou.edu> , Female, Mesg ID 5209980025

I think it depends on whether you know that the teacher's information is false or not. Many teachers (particularly in the humanities) in recent years have revised their "traditional" lessons in light of new/objective information. Teachers have done this to help academia become more inclusive of students from various backgrounds, as well as to correct historical inaccuracies spawned, in many cases, by prejudice. For example, I believe it was once common practice to teach that America was "discovered" by Europeans. Today that lesson is debated and in many cases refuted. So, can you document in a number of reputable sources that the teacher's "minority history" is false? If so, I agree that action should be taken with the local school board and parents association.
POSTED 5/21/99
Randy H., Silver Spring, MD, United States, <rh141n@nih.gov> , 25, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5219912736
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Question:
Why is it that a well-dressed person walking in a department store or mall gets asked to try things out, like perfume or makeovers? I cannot afford the luxury of always looking like I'm on my way to a wedding, but I do like to be asked once in a while. Yet I get overlooked most of the time. Why?
POSTED 5/24/99
Rebecca W., Evansville, IN, United States, <bekej@webtv.net> , 27, Female, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Housewife, High School Diploma , Mesg ID 52199100419
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Question:
I have a question about the rebel flag. Why does it seem to make black people angry? I have a tattoo of one with purple wings. I thought it was pretty. I see it on many different things, but I get bad looks or nasty comments.
POSTED 5/24/99
Rebecca W., Evansville, IN, United States, <bekej@webtv.net> , 27, Female, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Homemaker, High School Diploma , Lower class, Mesg ID 5219995311

Responses:
I'm kind of surprised you don't know the answer to the question you asked. It would be the same as asking why a Jewish person would be offended if you had a tattoo of a Nazi flag. The rebel flag was symbolic of the slavery system created and maintained by Southerners before the Civil War. The rebels fought to maintain that system of slavery. They lost. Flying and honoring and tattooing that flag could be and is interpreted to mean that you still believe in the things represented by the South, including slavery. Most people who still feel that way are members of the Aryan brotherhood or other right-wing violent organizations. So that would make you scary to black folks, right?
POSTED 5/24/99
Sara, Oakland, CA, United States, Female, Pentecostal, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class , Mesg ID 5249914240

How can you not recognize that the rebel flag is synonymous with the KKK, hate, slavery and various other unsavory memories of America? Some people argue it's a "white thing" or a "Southern thing," but as a white Southerner, let me assure you it's a racist thing, pure and simple. It is a revolting symbol for many people, just as the swastika will likely always be associated with Nazi Germany and the holocaust. If you wanted something pretty, a butterfly would have sufficed. Some people would argue that the rebel flag should be remembered and is emblematic of a proud old South, but for me the south is better remembered for its sweet tea and magnolias. Ya'll can have the rebel flag, for all I care.
POSTED 5/26/99
Kat, Birmingham, AL, United States, 28, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Consultant, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 52499101830
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