Best of the Week
of May 31, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 31, 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:
R283: With few opportunities over the years to experiment, I often wonder: Do black people who have thick lips kiss better, or more enjoyably, than people with thin lips? In other words, is it more fun to have more lip?
POSTED MAY 23, 1998
H.B.G., 55, white male <
hbgrant@netins.net>, Ames, IA

ANSWER 1:
No, more lip is not more fun than less lip. I have kissed men with thick lips and thin lips. The chemistry between the people involved determines how enjoyable a kiss is, not the size of the lips.
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
Sunshine, black female, Alexis5692@aol.com, Miami, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
As a matter of fact, it is. I have fairly narrow lips for a black person, but I've kissed my share of large-lipped women. I don't think I ever consciously thought about lip size. However, there is more movement and manipulation with women whose lips are larger. A lot of fun.
POSTED JUNE 4, 1998
Elliott, black, franrod@wavenet.com, Los Angeles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am a 35-year-old black man with nice, full lips. I have always been told I was a great kisser, by both black and white women. Most told me it was because my lips were so full.
POSTED JUNE 5, 1998
Paul, black male, pb63@bellsouth.net, Memphis, TN

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THE QUESTION:
G9: I live in the Northwest, grew up in the Southwest and was born in Washington, D.C. My question: Why does it seem that many Easterners, mostly New Yorkers, are so rude and do not respect another's personal space?
POSTED JUNE 4, 1998
Bickelb, 51, male, Clinton, WA
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THE QUESTION:
C5: Do people who live in expensive houses on hills that overlook a city feel superior to those who live below? I often wonder when I look up at these houses whether people buy them because they like the view or because they feel superior to everyone else, or a combination of the two. Or are there other reasons?
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
Tom, Fremont, CA
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THE QUESTION:
SO41: Why does it seem that gay people think about sex so much?
POSTED JUNE 4, 1998
Danny, Hollywood, CA

ANSWER 1:
Gay men and lesbian women think about sex about as much as heterosexuals do. Without knowing why you beleive what you do about gay people, it is impossible to answer the question. Heterosexual people may believe gay people think about sex more than they do because they simply overlook the images of mixed-gender sex that saturate everyday life. You may perceive that gay people think about sex because it is probably the one thing about our lives that is different from yours, so it appears obvious to you and you think that is all we think about. That is hardly the case. To be honest, I think heterosexual people think about our sex lives far more than we do.
POSTED JUNE 5, 1998
Rex T., 34, gay white male, <
rex_tremende@hotmail.com>, Cincinnati, OH

FURTHER NOTICE:
Danny, as a gay man I doubt that I think about sex any more than you do. I too worry about how I will pay the bills this month and have a few bucks left over. I worry about the emotional state of our youth. I wonder if my religious beliefs will hold up when I die. I wonder if people like me for the right reasons. I worry about my parents' health. I wonder if my lover and I will survive all of the above issues. I wonder if straights really think that my whole life is really wrapped up in aspects of sex. Yes, I believe sex is an important issue for couples to deal with. Yes, for gays and lesbians there are some unique issues of sex to work out, but sex is only a small percentage of my life's concerns. Life is much more complex than "who does who and how."
Steve N., 40, <
blaster7@hotmail.com>, Dallas, Texas

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I think the question should be, "Why do straight people think that gay people think about sex so much?" I don't believe anyone really knows how much anyone else thinks about sex. Gay or straight, any person might think about sex either more or less than someone else. I would guess that because gay people aren't held to the same "rules" as straight people (keep your virginity, get married, have a baby, etc.), straight people may believe we're much more sexually active. However, not having the same rules doesn't mean we don't have morals, ethics or a belief in monagamy. Also, the only gay people that most of America is exposed to are the extreme examples on daytime talk shows, and that probably leads people to think we're all very loose and flamboyant. The truth is, we're just like you.
POSTED JUNE 5, 1998
Allison, female, 34, Costa Mesa, CA

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THE QUESTION:
O6: How do defense attorneys who help clients they knew were guilty live with that? Especially in cases in which they knew, for example, that the person had molested a child?
POSTED MAY 9, 1998
John S., Sterling Heights, MI

ANSWER 1:
Not being a lawyer, but one who is studying law, I know that the Bill of Rights says that anyone accused of a crime has the right to an attorney. That includes everyone - even rapists, thieves and murderers. There is no crime you can commit for which you will be denied right of counsel. The person who is charged decides whether to plead guilty, not the attorney. It may be hard for the attorney to defend someone who is guilty of a heinous crime, but it is also hard for a doctor to tell a family that a loved one has died. It's just something someone must do.
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
Jenifer N.,19, white female, Nifle@aol.com, Panama City, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
I am a police officer and asked a defense attorney the same question. Here is what he said: An attorney takes an oath to defend his client to the highest degree he can, no matter if his client is guilty or not guilty. If an attorney does not defend his client to the highest degree, he may lose his license. Remember, the attorney is there to make sure his client's "rights" have not or will not be violated.
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
Jeff S., Inglewood, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
A defense attorney has the responsibility to provide the best defense possible for his client, regardless of how he feels about that client. If a defense attorney does the best job of defending his client that can be done and the client is found guilty, then society is enriched and justice is served. If a defense attorney does a hack job and does not provide a good defense, a client could then use the attorney's incompetence for a retrial, mistrial or dismissal on appeal. If you were an attorney, how could you live with yourself if you purposely did a poor job to get your client convicted, only to have the conviction overturned on appeal and watch the criminal walk out of the justice system a free person? You gotta take the bad to get the best our system can offer.
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
William, 40, Charleston, SC

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THE QUESTION:
R300: Why are black women more comfortable being big women, whereas white women feel they must be "Cindy Crawford" thin?
POSTED JUNE 2, 1998
Jenifer N., 19, white, Panama City, FL
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THE QUESTION:
RE51: What exactly is Voodoo? What beliefs is it based on? And is it still extensively practiced in the United States?
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Colette <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

ANSWER 1:
Centuries ago, before Europeans began colonizing Africa, most black Africans were pagans and practiced various spirit religions. They worshiped many gods, and believed there were hundreds of spirits, both good and evil, at work in nature and the world. When Europeans began colonizing Africa, they bought or captured many Africans and sold them into slavery in the Americas. When the Africans were brought to the Americas, white slave owners tried to impose Christianity on the slaves. Sometimes these attempts to Christianize African slaves worked, but often, the slaves paid lip-service to Christianity while continuing to hold on to their old spirit religions and practicing their ancient pagan rituals in secret. Sometimes the slaves accepted parts of Christianity while continuing their pagan traditions. Voodoo, most commonly practiced in Haiti, is a strange mixture of the Catholicism that the French tried to impose on their slaves and the ancient African pagan religions. Voodoo worshipers accept Jesus as a god, along with hundreds of other gods and spirits.
POSTED JUNE 4, 1998
Astorian, Astorian@aol.com, Austin, TX
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THE QUESTION:
R305: Some of my closest friends are German, and experience has shown me time and again that they seem to have few qualms about being overly critical of those around them. Why is this? Is it something fundamental to the German personality?
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
Don G., 27, American of European descent, Salinas, CA
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THE QUESTION:
R236: I was recently talking to a friend who had spent some time in Mexico. He speaks fluent Spanish, and I mentioned that I would like to travel to Havana to see the changes going on in that city. Although I obviously knew that Mexico and Cuba have different and individual cultures, I was surprised by his response of actually being afraid of inevitably using Mexican dialect or habits in Cuba. He informed me that Mexicans and Cubans typically do not like each other. Does anyone know why this might be?
POSTED MAY 3, 1998
Tim G., 24, white male <
gilmoret@bellsouth.net>, Jacksonville, FL

ANSWER 1:
I am not Hispanic but was married to a Hispanic woman for 10 years. She was Puerto Rican and never had a problem being associated with Spanish, Cuban or Puerto Rican people. If anyone mistook her for Mexican, however, she would become quite angry. She told me she did not like Mexicans and thought of them as not really being Hispanic.
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
D.W., 43, black male <
dmwomega1@compuserve.com>, New Orleans, LA

FURTHER NOTICE:
Maybe I should respond, as I'm a native Cuban. We don't hate or dislike Mexicans in any way. Our cultures differ in many ways, but it does not mean we hate each other. As in any country or culture, you will find people you like and people you totally dislike. Many Mexicans are visiting Cuba today. You should go and enjoy!
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
C. Marticorena, 39, Cuban, cdammit1@gte.net, Panorama City, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
It is not that Cubans and Mexicans or Puerto Ricans do not get along. It is that our heritage and customs are very different. The accents and dialects are different as well. It's the same as the difference between people of England and the United States. The language is the same, but the cultures are unique.
POSTED JUNE 4, 1998
Connie A., Mexican-American, Elk Grove, CA

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THE QUESTION:
R288: Why is it considered "divisive" when Americans who are Asian, black or Hispanic refer to themselves as ____-American, while whites who do the same - i.e. Irish-American, Polish-American, Italian-American, Arab-American, etc. - are rarely questioned?
POSTED MAY 26, 1998
Jay B., black male <
jayboyd@ameritech.net>, Detroit, MI

ANSWER 1:
Two-part answer: 1) Tradition - when most new immigrants were Euros, they used the national division to differentiate among themselves and lay claim to certain privilege or national tradition. That's why you don't get people saying "European-Americans." 2) Psychological need for pigeon-holing: Minorities have been sufficiently pigeon-holed with "xxx-American," but Euros as the majority need to be subdivided. It is the mind's need to categorize.
POSTED MAY 26, 1998
thsmith, 28, Euro, Los Angeles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
The terms "African-American" or "Hispanic-American" are usually applied by the mass media (print and video) to label participants in political events. I've never heard of an Italian-, Irish-, Polish-, etc. American group trying to accomplish anything other than a bar-b-que, dance or car wash. They are not groups intended to accomplish political change, so they generate no resentment from other groups..
POSTED MAY 27, 1998
James F., 31 <
fairfiej@mail.ci.tlh.fl.us>, Tallahassee, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
First, it's divisive because groups such as Hispanics and Africans tend to use it to set themselves apart, emphasizing the hyphen and not the American. Second, Arab-Americans I know not only do not consider themselves white, they often make bigoted statements about white and black Americans (blacks especially seem to be getting the worst of all worlds; in my experience, immigrants hate blacks more than native-born European Americans). I hope this somewhat answers your question.
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
M.D., Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I haven't encountered too many of these people that you (original questioner) reference. Furthermore, I can't recall the last time I read a news article that referred to someone as Irish-, Polish- or Italian-American. I have read many articles, though, that use African-American. I would guess some of these people who have been referenced as African-American were possibly of Jamaican descent. Also, what if we began referring to whites as Anglo-Americans? Would this be acceptable?
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
Jim J., 32, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Because many white Americans are a mixture of many backgrounds, I feel they simply consider themselves "white" and "American." For example I am Irish, German, French and Dutch. I don't necessarily identify myself as an Irish-American, because I'm a mixture. Therefore, I don't feel I can claim to be anything but an American. I think some white-Americans feel people claiming to be anything other than plain "American" are segregationists trying to separate themselves from "white" America.
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
A.V. Aguilar, Sballwench@aol.com, San Diego, CA
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THE QUESTION:
A12: Does anyone know why kids are killing kids and teachers in our schools nowadays? What is happening and why? Is anyone out there afraid for their school-age kids?
POSTED MAY 23, 1998
Cheryl G., 44, black <
blackcherrie@yahoo.com>, Jacksonville, FL

ANSWER 1:
I heard an answer the other day that made sense to me: Teens today are products of our video culture, which portrays violence as cool and attention-getting. Violence is also depicted as a direct solution to correcting a perceived wrong or a sure way to getting your minute of fame. Teens and others, especially those who think they have to pay back others for real or imagined wrongs, find all kinds of encouragement to take matters into their own hands. The media will give them all the attention they think they deserve, so they convince themselves they must act violently against their peers, in many cases their worst tormentors.

These teens are acting out in their school environments the acts of Tim McVeigh and Ted Kasczinski and the America First-ers. The media doesn't describe these acts as cowardly and demeaning to the perpetrators; instead, it finds all kinds of "human interest" aspects of these cowards and their anti-human acts. The media plays to our prurient interests, and we read this stuff and give our teens the impression there is something of value there. The teens are acting out our least generous and most anti-social ways of thinking and talking. All the stuff vented on talk shows like Jerry Springer, et. al., gives teens the impression that life is like that - a mess. So why shouldn' t they act to "clean it up"?
POSTED MAY 26, 1998
Robert, 62, white male <
robertgagnon@hotmail.com>, Ottawa, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE:
Many young people do not have the stability to know what is right and wrong to meet the challenges of today. They have the TV image of life: Overpower or kill to make things right. Lack of parental guidance has left them with nothing to determine whether their actions are right or wrong.We must remember that guns and weapons that kill come from a source, and many belong to parents. It is a parent's responsibility to teach these things, but unfortunately many parents are ignorant as to the way to do right themselves, being victims of their childhood teachings. I don't think kids want to be bad, they are just not thinking right or have the right direction. Let's also remember that these kids are in the minority, as I believe the majority of kids show a very high level of behavior and intelligence when it comes to making the right decision.
POSTED MAY 27, 1998
Charlie D. <
CTD28@aol>, Ocala, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I would like to add that the ability to discipline our children is greatly hampered in this day and age. Look at the track records of some of these kids: They seemed to have a very loose leash. I read in a newspaper that the boy in Oregon was angry his parents took his guns away from him as a form of restriction for his pulling stunts like throwing rocks at cars from overpasses and toilet-papering houses. Then he was caught trying to buy a stolen gun in school, after which he sought retribution. Most "problem kids" know that if they are disciplined too harshly, they can call someone and it will be stopped. What else could happen with things working this way?
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
David B., 21, DHBrantner@worldnet.att.net, St. Petersburg, FL
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