Best of the Week
of June 3, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 3, 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 love black men, I really do, but so many trends that younger men embrace are unattractive to me. What's the reason for them? I miss the days of neat haircuts. I am tired of seeing grown men in corn rows. I am tired of sagging jeans/shorts. Please stop chewing on straws, and remove the wave cap before coming out in public. It is OK to be casual, but sloppy is another thing. Sure, some of you may retort 'expression' or 'individuality,' but if four out of 10 are doing the same thing, so much for being unique. Take off the sneakers and tuck in that shirt! Shine like the diamonds you are.

POSTED 6/4/2001

Shionedy, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 26, Female, Black/African American, Straight, freelance writer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 5312001100820

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Question:

To white females: which racial group's men do you find the next-most attractive after white males, and what is the reason?

POSTED 5/27/2001

James, Damico, CA, United States, 20, Male, Hispanic/Latino, Mesg ID 522200140056


Responses:
I'm Anglo (Australian for white British!) and the most attractive men to me are Eurasian guys - usually half white, half Chinese or Japanese. They have black hair, usually, and a beautiful face with fascinating eyes, and usually wonderfully gentle but strong ideas. And men of Anglo-Indian (from India) descent have a wonderful, pale brown skin tone that is irresistible. But I haven't visited the United States yet, so maybe there are lots of other combinations.

POSTED 6/4/2001

Tracey, Melbourne, NA, Australia, 19, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, short arm(not handicapped), Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 527200164147


I'd say Hispanics, and, honey, not AFTER white males - I find many Hispanics, particulatly Puerto Ricans, more attractive than white males. I don't know what it is. I like the darker skin tone, and dark hair and eyes. They're beautiful to look at.

POSTED 6/4/2001

Lily, New York, NY, United States, 18, Female, Catholic, Italian, Bisexual, actress, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 527200175548

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Question:

What are some factors/issues/beliefs that keep white women and black women from developing close relationships? To thosw who do have a close friendship with a woman of the opposite race, what, if any, were the obstacles you had to overcome? Do you discuss racism together? Do you consider this friend to be your ally? Does/would interracial dating affect your relationship or becoming friends with a white/black woman?

POSTED 5/27/2001

Barbara C., Portland, ME, United States, 24, Female, New Age/Metaphysical, White/Caucasian, Straight, Social Worker, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 522200152041


Responses:
I am African American (also Brazilian mixed), and one of my best friends before I left the states was white. It is possible for the two to become good close friends. We were co-workers, and the friendship grew from professional to personal (hanging out after work, etc.). The thing that made it honest was that neither one of us tried to be what we weren't. I didn't try to act white or assume I knew everything about their culture(s), and she did not try to act black or assume she knew all about black culture(s). Despite physical difference, women of different races can share the same types of experiences, joys and pains. I think fear and peer pressure keep both races from making more friendships with each other. Also, both of us were in interracial relationships, and we talked about them, too. It was great that I was able to really talk about black/white issues with someone who wouldn't be offended or touchy. We were real because our situations were real, and it was there that both of our educations began. I think it's always a good thing when you can learn and grow from sharing your experiences with other races/cultures. You may not end up being best buddies, but you will never regret putting your 'fear of the unknown' aside and taking a chance.

POSTED 6/4/2001

Angela, Washington, DC, Germany, 29, Female, Christian, Black/African American, teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 531200170137


It has been my experience that most white women are very phony. They smile to your face, then talk about you like a dog when you're not around. I think most white people are scared of black people. They see us as violent, out-of-control robbers, burglars and boogey men. As a result, I think most white women pretend to be our friends to feel like they're 'out of harm's way,' so to speak. I've tried to be friends with white women before, but each time have been very disappointed, to the point that I don't even try anymore. They always ask me stupid, stereotypical questions about ghetto life. I am not from the ghetto. I grew up in middle-class neighborhoods. My parents have been happily married for 30 years, and we've never struggled a day in our lives. But most whites assume that because my skin is black, I must be from the ghetto. I have also had some white women who I thought were my friends make it clear that because they were white they were more attractive than I was and were somehow better than me. They never used those exact words, but it was clear what they meant. They would sometimes make rude comments about the darkness of another black person's skin right in front of me. Then when I would confront them about it, they would tell me I was being hypersensitive. These are the same white girls who would make it a point to date black men. When I would ask them why they chose to date black men, 100 percent of the time the answer would be because black men had bigger penises and were better in bed. When I asked if that was the only reason, most would pause for a moment, then laugh and say yes. What a sad and shallow reason for dating someone. There are many other reasons I don't trust white women, but it would take the next three days to type them. I find most white women to be lying, two-faced, phony, manipulative, egotistical and patronizing. I could never completely trust and feel comfortable with white people in general because of my experiences with them. I don't write these things to be hurtful toward anyone, but this is how I feel, and I don't think I should have to sugarcoat my feelings for anyone. As long as white women walk around with their fake plastic smiles on their faces, there will always be someone like me who can see through it and recognize you for what most of you really are.

POSTED 6/4/2001

Tracy, Absecon, NJ, United States, 22, Female, Black/African American, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 632001101554

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Question:

Why are Asian students (Chinese, Korean, etc) most often the highest achievers in school? Throughout my years in school from elementary school all the way to college, the highest GPAs belong to Asian students.

POSTED 5/27/2001

Kelly B., Hempstead, NY, United States, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 522200153359


Responses:
In my opinion, Asians and other people who place a high value on GPA will do well. Students who are involved with choir, baseball, football, chess club, frat club, etc. are spread too thin to say "my school marks are important." Everyone chooses what is most important to them.

POSTED 6/4/2001

Arnold U., Edmonton, Alberta, NA, Canada, 48, Male, Mesg ID 5282001112646


I think you can put Asian in two categories: those who immigrated here and those who were born here. For the first group, they came here with the cultural background of being encouraged to achieve academically more than anything else. Also, the school curriculum in Asia is generally much tougher than those in U.S. high schools. I remember that I started learning calculus when I was 14. So when the first group got here, they just excelled in school easily. However, for the second group, for those born here, unless they still have very strong cultural backgrounds tied to their family upbringing, they are not much different than non-Asians in terms of academic performance. In addition, many Asians are discriminated against or feel disadvantaged in other aspects in school, such as sports and social circles. The only thing, then, that Asians feel they can compete and win in fair and square is academics. So they spend more time studying and learning. Moreover, our society strongly rewards those who have high educations with good jobs. So there you go!

POSTED 6/4/2001

J.C., Boston, MA, United States, 30, Male, Asian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 530200145915


It's because Asian parents tend to have higher academic standards for their kids. I'm feeding into a stereotype here, but it's true. They keep a closer social rein on their kids, too. When you go out on a Saturday night, you don't often see a lot of Asian kids hanging out. Their parents either discourage or do not encourage behavior like this (luckily, I was spared). They're home doing homework.

POSTED 6/4/2001

Sarah C., San Francisco, CA, United States, Female, Agnostic, Asian, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 531200121934

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Question: Why are so many Hispanic males and females gay or bisexual?

POSTED 5/27/2001

Kelly B., Hempstead, NY, United States, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 522200153825


Responses:
I have seen the opposite. Although I know a fair number of gays and lesbians and a lot of Hispanics, I don't know many homosexual Hispanics. The Hispanics I know tend to be more homophobic than average - a result of the whole Machismo attitude. This difference in observation may have something to do with the fact that Hispanics are very diverse. Most of the Hispanics I know are from Mexico or Central America, or their families come from there. The cultures of Mexico and Central America are much different from the cultures of the Caribbean and South America.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 5292001100604

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Question:

Where did the use of the phrase 'Chinese Auction' originate? There is a common use of this term for fund-raisers, usually in non-profits. Can this be associated with some kind of Chinese game, perhaps?

POSTED 5/27/2001

Razor, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 48, Female, Catholic, Native American/American Indian, Straight, graduate student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 522200194801


Responses:
I doubt the term has anything to do with China. It's common in English to speak as if a variation on something or an odd version of something is foreign, specifically usually 'Chinese' or 'Dutch.' It can be a way af describing something as exotic or different, for example, 'Chinese checkers' or 'Chinese jumprope,' or, as inadequate or inferior, like 'Dutch treat' and 'Dutch courage.' 'French' has been used that way historically as well, but the only example I can recall is 'French toast.' I know that some other languages do the same thing, but with different countries. It's another manifestation of human tribalism - none of these things actually has anything to do with the countries they are named after; they are just being used as symbols of the exotic.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Dara, Berkeley, CA, United States, 32, Female, Linguist, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 530200165301

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Question:

I grew up in a predominantly black area, which afforded me a chance to observe another culture. There is one thing I never understood: I see the black community trying hard to get equality (I feel they had it years ago and that the tide is turning, but that's another post). With the leaders of the black community trying so hard, why on earth is Ebonics accepted? Does this not make those who use it seem uneducated and lazy? I don't buy the line that Ebonics is leveling the playing field for African Americans. Is there a reason, besides laziness, that hinders black youths from learning proper grammar? Using Ebonics as a guide, I should have passed Trig with an A; after all, I had a hard time learning trig, so I should have been given an A. The largest thing holding the black community back is the black community, and Ebonics is a perfect example. I grew up in the same surroundings as my friends, went to the same school and had the same breaks. But while they deal crack, I'm making a good living and taking care of my wife and house.

POSTED 5/27/2001

Tracy, Farmington, MI, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Technical Writer, Technical School, Mesg ID 524200145249


Responses:
When you accept a culture, you accept their language. No language is 'better' than another - all are used equally well within their own cultures for communication, to express solidarity, and so on. So black youths are not lazy, they're just communicating with each other in a familiar way. Also, the perception of what is 'lazy' changes over time. Italian and French used to be considered slang, because if you spoke 'properly,' you spoke Latin.

As for your crack-dealing friends, maybe they just fell in with the wrong people, maybe they made the bad choice and you made the right choice. It happens. Not everything is determined by race, you know.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Netta, Armidale, NA, Australia, 19, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 528200133443


In college I did some research on Ebonics and learned some very interesting things. According to what I read, slaves developed the language in order to have private conversations that could not be understood by the slaveholders. As for why black children today still speak in Ebonics, we all learn our speech patterns from our parents, starting at birth. That's why people from Wisconsin, for instance, have a distinctive accent that can be discerned by people from other states. Once a person has established those patterns, it is very difficult to overcome them. Black children speak like their parents, who speak like their parents, and so on. To go to school and be told that the speech they hear at home every day is 'wrong' or 'inferior' is something I can't even imagine. As a former English teacher, I think children do need to learn standard English, precisely because they will be judged by the majority on the way they speak. But I think it can be done in a culturally sensitive manner that does not place a judgment on their parents, their home or them.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Mary A., Traverse City, MI, United States, 45, Female, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 529200151904


Since the term Ebonics was coined, there has been a lot of distortion of its original meaning and purpose. The original meaning of the term Ebonics was a distinct dialect spoken by many blacks in the United States. The original purpose of integrating Ebonics into the classroom was not to teach children Ebonics as an alternative to standard English, but for teachers and other educators to understand the structure of Ebonics so they could better teach standard English to children who speak the dialect. It's similar to ESL teachers being familiar with their students' primary language so they can better teach them English. Another consideration regarding ESL classes is that schools with a lot of ESL students get extra money for teaching ESL classes. Extra money is quite attractive to impoverished districts like those in Oakland. This led to the movement to declare Ebonics a separate language, so schools with a lot of students speaking the dialect could qualify for more funding.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 5292001103058


Blacks are not lazy. You don't say a word about slang and phonetic words used by white people (fuggedaboutit, youse, gnarly, tubular, hooch, as if, you are so dead, etc.), but when black people use deviations from the English language, the country gets up in arms. Apparently, there is a double standard in this country that says blacks cannot afford to do silly, care-free things that help define their culture, but white folks can act as silly as they want. After reading what you wrote, I'm starting to believe that is true. Where I'm from, ignorance is ignorance, and broken English is broken English. If you have a problem with the way some (not all) black folks speak, then you should also have a problem with the way some white folks speak when they break the laws of grammar and punctuation. Sounds like you want total assimilation with the dominant culture and view your way of communicating as the only one worth using. Some people find Seinfeld funny because his New York accent and Jewish mannerisms (oye, aaah), but people like Cedric the Entertainer or the Wayans Brothers are looked down upon. I'm not saying I like their particular brand of humor or dialect, but I don't understand how you can find limitless fault with one dialect but not another. How can you begin to over-generalize your findings all the way across black America when you have maybe encountered 1 percent of all blacks in this country? That's a pretty small sample size for reaching the conclusion you've supposedly reached. My point is that you can log some serious hours watching African Americans and hanging around them, but you don't go home to an African-American home and spend the night. You are not immersed into a culture of inferiority day and night where you are told that you won't amount to anything by both blacks and whites. Your cultural identity isn't questioned when you make strides toward success and achievement. No matter how close you are situated to blacks, you're not black. How can you suggest that we made it and somehow lost it? You're really not in a credible position to make the statements you are trying to make. I agree Ebonics should not be formally taught to black children in an educational system, but I do not see it as bringing down the race. The factors that led to Ebonics should be looked at more closely than the dialect itself - it is a symptom of shoddy education, poverty, inequality and rejection from mainstream society.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Michael F., Chicago, IL, United States, 23, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, law student/educational administrator, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 529200125830


It's hard to believe that you've supposedly lived in a black environment all of your life and you don't get Ebonics. It kind of makes me doubt that people of other races could ever understand something that one race goes through, if you've been around us all of your life and still can't understand. But I'm gonna keep hope alive!To give a summary, I'm a black woman who has grown up in a black environment all my life. Except that my mother went to white schools growing up and therefore never spoke Ebonics, and neither did I. I also went to white private schools growing up. However, I try to learn Ebonics as much as I can. This is because Ebonics is black. It shows others that you are black and not afraid of being black. It's something that is culturally our own. Every race needs something, some ritual, some way of speaking that is their own. That is why every race alters the English language just a bit: to make it identifiably theirs. And that is not limited to races. East Coast white people speak differently from West Coasters. Southern white people speak real different, as well as Southern black people. Asian people and Hispanic and Indian and Native American people all have their own versions. Ebonics shows that you are down with your race, because only people of your race actually know the meaning of your slang vocabulary. I also have to disagree that we are equal, but as you have, I'll save it for another post. However, as for it holding black people back: to an extent, it has. We all need to speak 'proper' English because it is universally understood. It's used in business, taught as a foreign language, etc. But some black people aren't taught well enough in schools how to speak 'proper' English. I've been to private and public schools and can attest to that. Some of the public schools weren't challenging at all, and the teachers did not care if someone failed or skipped a class or whatever. My mom made sure I did well in school. I think parents should have more of a stake in their kids' education. But it's like a cycle. The parent is not educated well, so the kid doesn't become well-educated. It's very complicated. Ebonics is not the culprit. We should, need and deserve to have our unique slang. The education system is the culprit for not teaching some black kids the proper way well enough.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Yuna, Queens, NY, United States, 17, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 530200122154


I'm not an English major, but I think I've got a pretty good grasp on the language, and I also speak in Ebonics. In fact, whenever my friends and I converse in public, others have no earthly idea of what we're saying. Please understand that Ebonics is the closest thing we have to a native tongue. Keep in mind that many blacks do not (and will never) know their native tongues. It was forbidden for our ancestors to speak their native language when they reached this country; hence, our Mother tongue was lost.

POSTED 6/5/2001

K.C. Tate, Jacksonville, FL, United States, 28, Female, Black/African American, paralegal, Mesg ID 531200190846


I don't not like your generalizations. There are lazy Ebonic-speaking people, but they do not represent the entire black community. I am black, and I have never done/dealt drugs, I speak perfect English and I have a great job. I don't fit into your little stereotypical box, so please don't generalize.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Ife, Houston, TX, United States, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 61200135918


As an undergraduate I majored in English and wrote a pretty hefty paper on the origins and use of Ebonics by African Americans. I think it is accepted because it is a part of African-American culture and is a means of expression. I think many people are misinformed about the political aspects of the debate surrounding Ebonics. The primary misconception is that African Americans want Ebonics accepted as a primary language in school, or even to be taught. In reality, I believe most advocates of Ebonics want African-American children to not be punished or castigated for using it. That doesn't mean standard English should be forsaken. It simply means that if a child answers a question using Ebonics, that child should not be embarrassed or punished for speaking non-standard English. Similarly, a student who speaks French as their native tongue is not called stupid by their teacher when they slip in a French phrase during class. Critics of this approach argue that Ebonics is nothing more than 'broken English,' but that is untrue. Ebonics has a uniform structure, and it is easy to tell when someone is speaking incorrect Ebonics. A white person imitating Ebonics might say, 'I ain't be got nothin'.' Any person familiar with Ebonics would know this is 'incorrect' ('I ain't got nothin'' is correct). The long and short of it is that advocates want this language acknowledged - not taught - for the larger purpose of making black students feel that our culture is legitimate and worthwhile.

POSTED 6/5/2001

R.H., Syracuse, NY, United States, 27, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Straight, Law student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 62200185023

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Question:

I have been told that Italians have some black blood in them, hence the dark, curly hair and darker skin on some of them ... but not all. I am fully aware that all human beings trace their ancestry to Africa, but I'm not talking about the beginning of mankind. I am just curious about Italians' anthropological history, moreover that they once had blonde hair and blue eyes. Does the Carthaginian general Hannibal (247?-183? B.C.) conquering Italy have something to do with their ties to black blood? Furthermore, does it have something to do with the fact that some Italians don't consider themselves white?

POSTED 5/25/2001

Jarrett, Oxford, OH, United States, 19, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 525200112843


Responses:
I think you may be misinformed: after all, there are plenty of curly headed blonds, and most people from lands bordering the Mediterranean are swarthy to various degrees. One of the darkest-skinned white people I ever knew was Greek; her family had been living in the hills near Sparta since Hector was a pup. Another was Jewish. None of that requires sub-Saharan ancestry. I doubt it has much to do with Hannibal; he, after all, was Carthaginian and they were Phoenicians, not blacks. There's a good chance that his army included Berbers and similar people from North Africa, but again, those people are not black. Also, Hannibal didn't occupy Italian soil for long. Sicily is very diverse, ethnically, having been colonized by the Greeks, invaded by the Vandals (a Germanic tribe that occupied North Africa), and held at various times by armies from Western Europe. Again, however, there was no widespread migration or invasion by blacks. Italy was a major commercial hub for a couple of thousand years, so undoubtedly there were traders (and slaves) from all over passing through; that would have included Moors (viz. Othello), again non-Negro Africans, and probably a few folks from sub-Saharan Africa, Nubia and Ethiopia. I doubt there were enough to change the complexion of Italy. Finally, let me comment that the ancient Greeks and Romans knew what blacks looked like, and they never mentioned that there was any population of them in Italy.

POSTED 6/4/2001

Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 612001122341


Italians tend to be darker than other Europeans because they have Semitic (Middle Eastern) ancestry in them. There's probably a little black mixed in there as well, but that's true of just about all races.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Jessica B., Jackson, MS, United States, 16, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 527200174701


I believe Italians have their physical appearance due to their history. You cited Hannibal's invasion of the peninsula, but that would have been diluted in time. Instead, look at the long history of the Roman Empire, which extended through Northern Africa and the Middle East. Keep in mind Renaissance Italy's flourishing trade with the Middle East and China. I believe Italy's long trade history with the Middle East gave the peninsula a strong trace of Arab blood; most dark-skinned Italians more closely resemble Arabs than blacks.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Alex, Elkins Park, PA, United States, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 528200183445


I am Italian-American and have some cousins who look African American. These cousins are Sicilian. Sicily was once conquered by the Moors; if you look at a map, Sicily is a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Africa. Of course, there may be some African-American ancestry closer than that in the family that isn't talked about! Anyway, I have brown, curly hair, green eyes and a sallow complexion (a lovely shade of yellow). I have blond, blue-eyed aunts with fair skin. My dad has blue eyes. My brother looks more Puerto Rican than Italian. I consider myself white and don't know anyone who's Italian-American who doesn't consider himself or herself white.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Roxanne, Boston, MA, United States, 33, Female, Catholic, Italian-American, Straight, Systems Analyst, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 530200172636


According to some historians, African tribes invaded Italy prior to Hannibal and intermingled with the natives, producing the dark-eyed, dark-haired individuals we think of being in this group. Whether this is true is up to one's interpretation. Greeks, after all, are dark-complected and dark-haired, as are most Slavic groups. The theory of African interbreeding hasn't, to my knowledge, extended to them. Interestingly enough, the native Britons were dark-haired and dark-eyed, as were the native Irish. The waves of Nordic (Viking) pirates which came into their area were the cause of any lightening in their complexion. Most Europeans are dark-haired and dark-eyed. Blue eyes are a recessive trait, and therefore less common than brown anywhere on Earth.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Brian, Peru, IN, United States, 25, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, writer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 530200193650


Italians have darker skin because they live in a harsher climate than Northern Europeans. Over time, people 'evolve' to protect their skin from exposure to the sun. What we look at as skin color is largely due to the melanin content in the skin. This is also why a lot of Spaniards have darker skin. Also, Hannibal never conquered the Italian peninsula. He razed several towns and then would move on, until he was ultimately defeated when attempting a siege of Rome.

POSTED 6/5/2001

Kevin, Chicago, IL, United States, Male, Mesg ID 642001101349

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