Best of the Week
of June 20, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 20, 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:
My youngest daughter has told me she is bisexual. I have no problem with this because I love her very much and she is quite an intelligent young woman who knows her own power. But what exactly does "bisexual" mean? I know that may sound ignorant on my part, but I really want to know about her lifestyle.
POSTED 6/22/99
Charlette H., Mt. Washington, KY, United States, <charlettehines@eudoramail.com> , Female, Wiccan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Librarian, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 6219972505
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Question:
I lived in Washington, D.C., for 10 years. Is there such a thing as "Washington Nice"? I'm referring to overdone, almost unctuous politeness at a superficial level with nothing underneath it. For instance, I could be approaching a door and the person nearby, regardless of race or gender, would almost knock themselves out to hold it open for me. (And no, I don't resemble anyone highly placed in politics!) Yet if you would attempt to take the encounter one step further, such as striking up a conversation, they'd look at you like you were from another planet. I always kind of felt like "I can handle my own doors, but a little human warmth would be nice." Has anyone else noticed this about D.C.? And is this anything like "Minnesota Nice" or "Mormon Nice" - both of which I've heard of but not sure I've ever experienced?
POSTED 6/25/99
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 38, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6219930415
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Question:
Why does it seem that many black people smell so bad (to me) when they come out in the sun?
POSTED 6/21/99
Laney C., San Diego, CA, United States, 23, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, High School Diploma , Lower class, Mesg ID 6799114529

Responses:
I feel that what you say you smell has nothing to do with whether the people are black. I am sure you will find many other people from a variety of backgrounds with the same "smell." Perhaps you have not been exposed enough. Travel to a different town, city, state or even country, and perhaps your view of things such as the different smells people have due to chemical makeup may change. I believe human hormones called pheromones play a major part in human scent. The only major difference between blacks as opposed to whites is the amount of melanin in the skin. Despite that, some people of color have the same skin color as whites. Not even the white race is monotonous. Please reevalute your claim that black people have a certain smell when out in the sun, and try and think about the train of thought you went through to come to the question. I urge you to reply to me if you have questions or feedback about my response.
POSTED 6/25/99
Shannon C., Brooklyn, NY, United States, 19, Female, Catholic, Caribbean/West Indian, Straight, Student, High School Diploma , Lower class, Mesg ID 62499111908

I had never noticed that B.O. from the sun exposure was race-specific. Personally, I can stink up a room after a day in the sun as well, and I'm about as white as wonderbread. Of course, being white as wonderbread, I come inside a bit sooner because I burn. Take a good, long snort of the next white person you see who's being active; no deodorant in the world is going to cover an afternoon of activity in the sun. I don't think it's racial. I think you may just notice more becuase you are already noticing the person.
POSTED 6/25/99
Wanda, New York, NY, United States, 27, Female, White/Caucasian, Middle class, Mesg ID 6219942355
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Question:
What do people think are the worst movies in terms of promoting stereotypes against their particular group, or giving a false view of history? Please be specific about why. My own nominees for my backgrounds: The Alamo and Pocahontas, both for sanitizing history for an empty (and patently insincere) feel-good message.
POSTED 6/21/99
A.C.C., San Antonio, TX, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Grad student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 689972005

Responses:
Every made-for-TV "Save My Baby" movie shown in the last 10 years. Most males are portrayed as no-good, wife-beating, children-scaring, money-grubbing, good old boy rapists, or some combination thereof.
POSTED 6/23/99
Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 38, Male, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6219911910

I agree with you 100 percent that both The Alamo and Pocahontas are prime examples of Hollywood sanitizing history so Americans can feel good about it. This is one of my biggest pet-peeves. How The West Was Won (or "stolen" as I like to refer to the movie) is another example of Hollywood vs. Reality. Just about anything with John Wayne in it, for that matter. Still, one thing to remember is that they are movies, not documentaries. So if we expect historical accuracy, we will be disappointed. What really makes me upset are the historical inaccuracies promoted in the schools and history books. The version of The Alamo I learned in school was almost the same as the movie. And according to my fourth-grade California history teacher, California history started in 1849, when Sutter found gold.
POSTED 6/23/99
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, <Lucy357@aol.com> , 24, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Mechanical Engineer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6219974302

The John Wayne movie The Alamo was filmed 40 years ago. Back then, non-whites were not highly regarded. Based upon this, you could pretty much hate every western from that period. As for Pocahontas, it is a child's cartoon, not a documentary. Hercules did not exactly follow classic mythology. Nobody found that too offensive. Personally, my nominees would be the intellectually bankrupt Adam Sandler movies.
POSTED 6/24/99
J.D., Arlington, TX, United States, 30, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Data management, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 62399111939

One of the worst films that alleges to portray a gay lifestyle is La Cage Aux Folles, remade even more awfully as The Birdcage. The dated, twittering insincerity and effeminacy of the characters alone should have relegated this hackneyed vehicle to the dustbin. Perhaps it's a more offensive film for the things it doesn't say, with Hollywood choosing a trite and sentimental remake in preference to a film that faced up to real gay issues. I know Robin Williams says he likes gay people and gets involved in their issues, but this? It would have been better not to bother.
POSTED 6/24/99
Ben S., Hobart, Tasmania, NA, Australia, <bscaro@hotmail.com> , 30, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Public servant, Mesg ID 6239971255

It frustrates me very much that many Americans believe movies are "just entertainment" with no political or ideological implications. (In fact, the "it's just entertainment" phenomenon is the subject of my dissertation). Look at how people freaked out when Latino groups criticized the Taco Bell dog, or when critics have discussed racial implications of films like The Seige and Star Wars. I hope Y? Forum will print more questions about the media.
POSTED 6/24/99
Rhiannon, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <rock0048@tc.umn.edu> , 28, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Mass communications grad student, Mesg ID 6239972308

I'm actually a Spike Lee fan, but look at his portrayal of Jews, Italians and other non-black groups: Loud, obnoxious Italians in Do the Right Thing; violent, racist Italians in Jungle Fever; greedy, money-hungry Jews in Mo Better Blues. I could go on, but you get the picture. I agree with you on The Alamo, but as for Pocahontas, I feel it was a children's movie, and reality isn't that huge an issue. You want they should show vicious white troops scalping Injuns or passing them pox-ridden blankets? How about a forced death march or two? That's great family fun.
POSTED 6/25/99
James, Allentown, PA, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Mesg ID 6239930049
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Question:
An old friend of mine says that since she is Jewish and has a tattoo, she may not be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Does that include the tattoos given in concentration camps? I never thought to ask, and I have always wanted to know.
POSTED 6/20/99
Norma W., Norfolk, VA, United States, 32, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Homemaker, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 61099125930

Responses:
I don't claim to be an authority, but I don't think that's true. I say that because I know of several concentration camp survivors who were properly buried in Jewish cemeteries and surely had the usual Nazi tattoo. It is true that Judaism regards tattoos as a mutilation of the body, which is forbidden. Perhaps tattooed people are banned from some cemeteries, but an exception is made for involuntary tattoos like this. I really don't know.
POSTED 6/21/99
Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 40, Male, Jewish, Mesg ID 6219974709

The Old Testament does indeed have a prohibition against making any "markings" or "cuttings" in one's flesh - which is basically what a tattoo is. However, only an ultra-orthodox rabbi or funeral home would raise any objection. As for the blue markings on one's arm, etc., as made by the Nazis, these are involuntary, not sought or desired by the bearer, and are therefore exempt from this ruling. Please remember that most orthodox and reform rabbis would be happy to help organize a dignified Jewish burial - tattoos or not.
POSTED 6/23/99
Allan, Ottawa, Ontario, NA, Canada, 49, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Audio engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6219954212

To Jesse: If Jews do not believe in mutilation of one's body, then why do they get circumcised?
POSTED 6/22/99
Michell, Panama City, FL, United States, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Middle class, Mesg ID 62199100204
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Question:
As I was driving the other day, I came across a "Know Jesus, Know Peace" bumper sticker, and it dawned on me that, despite 12 years of Catholic education, I don't understand the whole "Love Jesus" thing. My relationship is with God, and I don't even think I've thought a whole lot about Jesus, other than that he was regarded as the Son of God. When I pray, I talk to God, not Jesus. What am I missing about the Jesus phenomenon? Perhaps this isn't something that can be answered, but it is something I am wondering about.
POSTED 6/20/99
Lisa, Richmond, VA, United States, 38, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Financial Services, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 61799102538

Responses:
Jesus is the doorway into God's Kingdom, and once you're there, all aspects and fruits of the Kingdom of God will be yours, including peace. If you are walking with God, I believe you should be a reflection of Christ, doing all He did (John 10:10). He is our teacher, and we should follow in his footsteps, not just the 12. If we live up to this, our blessings will be abundant. Hence: "Know Jesus, know peace."
POSTED 6/21/99
Matt, Beaumont, CA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 62199124103

I will start by saying "Know God, Know Peace." As a Muslim, I do not think you need anyone to take you to God, and as you said yourself, you talk to God and not to Jesus. So I do not think you are missing a lot about what you called the "Jesus phenomenon," except that all you need to know is that Jesus was a human being who was chosen by God to be his messenger, not his son.
POSTED 6/23/99
Mohammad, Kalamazoo, MI, United States, <alibaba1969@yahoo.com> , 30, Male, Muslim, Middle Eastern, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 62299102049

Your question is a good one, and posed seriously, and I will not undermine your intentions by giving you a trite, cliched response. If you will study the four Gospels, you will find what Jesus told His followers and disciples. Jesus Himself taught that we need to approach the Father through Him; and that if one had looked on Jesus, that one had seen the Father as well. The peace spoken of is spirital peace - the assuredness of salvation and redemption from sin and death, through Jesus. I bid you God's blessing as you study to understand. Perhaps a chat with a knowledgable evangelical believer would give you more insight.
POSTED 6/23/99
Al, Ottawa, Ontario, NA, Canada, 49, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Audio engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6219955312

No offense, but the Richmond diocese is one of the most liberal in the country, and I'm assuming your religious training was a bit spotty as a result of that. I am puzzled, though, that Jesus Christ as the center of our faith has left you with such questions. In Catholic theology, Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and is God just as are the Father and the Holy Ghost. Indeed, Catholics believe that the Holy Eucharist (Communion) is the real Body and Blood of Christ, not just a symbol. There are two very traditional churches in Richmond (Latin Mass, etc.); I encourage you to look them up in your phone book and ask the priest the same question you asked in this forum.
POSTED 6/23/99
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 38, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6219931545

Jesus is the "earthly" form of God, one of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). If you believe Jesus is the son of God, in human form, then you would pray to and know him. It was Jesus who walked this Earth; Jesus who was the teacher of the disciples; and Jesus, in human form, who suffered and died for us all. To know Jesus is to read the written words of Bible. To love Jesus is to accept the fact that God, the Father, sent him to us because he loved us. He took him because He loved us and would take on all our sins if we but believe. To pray to Jesus is to pray to God. They are one and the same. God the Father, through his son Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the best teaching can come from reading and believing.
POSTED 6/23/99
Caddy, Lexington, KY, United States, 40, Female, Christian, College Administrator, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 6219944912
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Question:
I teach a college level "cultural awarness" course. I am wondering: What is the prefered term to use in class when referring to the Hispanic/Latino/Mexican-American population? As an Anglo, I tend to go in and out of these terms depending on the context of the discussion, but I would really like to know which term people within these cultural groups would choose, and more importantly for me, why.
POSTED 6/20/99
Sandra B., Tuscon, AZ, United States, 40, Female, undecided, White/Caucasian, Straight, College instructor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 61999115812

Responses:
Hispanic and Latin (or "Latino" in Spanish) to us mean the same (except to Brazilians; they are Latin but not truly Hispanic). Hispanic means "of the former Spanish colonies" (Spain equals Hispania). Latino (in Spanish) means "de Latinoamerica" (in English "from Latinamerica"). Chicano is a term used solely for Mexican-Americans, originated in the Mexican communities of Chicago. My advice is to use "Latin" (in English, without the "o"), which includes all people born in or of ascendants from México to Argentina, and avoid separating Mexicans from the rest of Latin America by using a term just for them. And above all, remember that Latin/Hispanic is a culture, not a race or skin color.
POSTED 6/23/99
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 29, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian (but very Hispanic/Latino), Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 62199112657

There are many people who are very sensitive about how their ethnic group is labeled, esspecially by someone not of the same ethnic group. And to make things more complicated, everyone seems to have his or her own opinion as to how their ethnic group should be labeled. I identify myself as Chicana because I am of Mexican descent, but my family has been in California for generations. But if someone refers to me as Mexican, Latina, Hispanic or Mexican-American, I don't mind. Still, that said, here is the break-down of terms, as far as I know:

1) Chicano: Born in the United States, usually of Mexican descent, but other Latin American countries are also included.
2) Mexican: Born in Mexico.
3) Latino or Hispanic: Born anywhere, currently residing anywhere, but of Latin American descent.
4) Mexican-American: Born in the United States, family originally from Mexico.

Hopefully this helps. Thank you for being sensitive to the feelings and needs of other people. I wish more people were like that.
POSTED 6/23/99
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, <Lucy357@aol.com> , 24, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Mechanical Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6219975705
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