Best of the Week
of July 2, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 2, 2000, 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

The book on Y? is here!
"Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"

Order it today!
Delivery in 2-3 days via Priority Mail
Read the Associated Press story on "Wet Dogs"

Order the book on Y? today!

 


Question:
I have a black friend who says he thinks the oddest "white folks" food is peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches. Are there any other odd foods black people find especially associated with white people?
POSTED 7/7/2000
George G., Los Angeles, CA, United States, 68, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, likes peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches, Writer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 76200044618

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I have a few gay friends who sometimes joke about "twinks." What does this term refer to?
POSTED 7/7/2000
Nina, Albany, NY, United States, 22, Female, Atheist, student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 76200091202

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
When white people start doing something black people have always been doing, why does it then become mainstream, the greatest phenomenon, etc.? Past example: Elvis. Present: N'Sync, Britany Spears, etc. Why do white people reward their people more when they do something black people do?
POSTED 7/7/2000
Dawn, Greenville, NC, United States, 22, Female, Black/African American, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 76200095523

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why do neighborhoods invariably deteriorate after blacks move in?
POSTED 6/27/2000
Stan, Bensalem, PA, United States, <stan192@aol.com>, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, postman, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 626200063133

Responses:
Neighborhoods do not necessarily deteriorate when black people move in. Any community will suffer a decline when people feel compelled to move out, which generally happens when a few black people move into a 'white' neighborhood. As black people replace those people, the place becomes generally stigmatized, even if the neighborhood is still aesthetically pleasing and a nice place to live. It becomes a 'black' neighborhood, where crime is expected to dwell (even if it doesn't). Eventually, the good, hard-working folks move out because they either don't like living a stigmatized area (some black people don't like living next to other black people) or they want to live somewhere else. Because property values have unduly plummeted, who's left to take up the slack but the ne'er-do-wellers who give all poor neighborhoods a bad name? Thus, it's not black people, but the flight of money and work ethic, that causes a community's downfall. But this scenerio doesn't always happen, especially when a neighborhood is a mixed income one. There are a lot of all-black and integrated neighborboods that are just as nice as lily-white ones. And there are plenty of white ones that are less than desirable.
POSTED 7/6/2000
Tish, Newark, NJ, United States, Female, Black/African American, Full time graduate student, Mesg ID 710082501

Greatly simplified, the typical pattern usually goes like this: 1) Middle-class blacks move into a formerly predominantly white neighborhood. For a short time (5-10 years), there is a period of integration. Whites leave because they are relocating or moving to larger houses, not because of the racial transition of the neighborhood. 2) Realtors usually don't practice blockbusting (the practice of scaring white homeowners into selling), but increasingly they don't show white homebuyers properties in the area. Black homebuyers are often steered toward the changing neighborhood because it's perceived as a place where they'll feel comfortable. 3) After so many blacks move in, there is a 'tipping point,' a percentage at which whites begin to move out because the neighborhood becomes 'too black' - the whites fear living in what may appear to be a future ghetto. Usually the tipping point is 30 percent to 35 percent black. 4) As many houses go on the market at once, prices drop (decreased demand, increased supply = low prices.) The middle-class exodus accelerates, with both whites and blacks leaving, trying to cut their losses and preserve as much equity as possible. 5) With lower home prices, low-income blacks can now afford to buy houses in the area. Many houses are also purchased by absentee landlords, who tend not to be very selective in screening their tenants. I've found that newer cities that are less ethnically insular tend to integrate much better than old Eastern and Midwestern cities. Denver has many once-black neighborhoods (Five Points, North Park Hill, Montbello) where whites are flocking to, because they have affordable housing prices or historic character. There are some exceptions where 'managed integration' was successful - the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago; Oak Park, Ill.; and Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
POSTED 7/6/2000
Dan, Denver, CO, United States, 34, Male, White/Caucasian, Urban planner, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 740021421
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
To everyone: What kind of person is a 'cat person'? It seems to me that most people I know who like me are white. Do people of color have cats, too? People from countries other than the United States? Do women like cats more than men?
POSTED 7/5/2000
Shadow, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 12, Female, Gray, furry Feline-American, Mesg ID 752000114442

Responses:
I think cat lovers tend to be quieter, calmer and more introspective than dog lovers. I think book lovers are more likely to be cat lovers than dog lovers. Extroverts seem to prefer dogs.
POSTED 7/7/2000
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Mesg ID 76200093647

Shadow, to answer some of your questions: I am the 'stereotypical' cat person - white, female and artistically inclined. However, I have known Asians, Latinos and blacks who have had cats. I think there may be more white cat owners because more whites own their own homes - many renters are not allowed to have pets. It is true that more women than men like cats, but there seems to be a stigma attached to liking cats for men - cats are perceived to be 'women's pets' and not 'manly' like, say, large dogs. Finally, yes, people in other countries own cats. I have corresponded with people in Brazil and India, among other places, who have owned cats. Pet ownership in general, however, is a luxury that many people in less-developed countries cannot afford.
POSTED 7/7/2000
Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, 30's, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Office Manager, Middle class, Mesg ID 77200010451
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I had numerous sexual encounters when I was a kid. I thought nothing of it until the brouhaha over sexual abuse started in the late '70s. I was afraid to say that I had had sex as a kid and liked it after so many people said it was the most awful thing that could happen to a kid. Am I in a very small minority? Has anyone else experienced sex or sex play when fairly young and found it to be no big deal?
POSTED 7/5/2000
Paul K., Orlando, FL, United States, 51, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, corporate executive, 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 752000115526

Responses:
What type of sexual encounters are you talking about? Playing doctor with other kids, intercourse with an adult or something in between? And how young is fairly young?
POSTED 7/6/2000
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Middle class, Mesg ID 76200013628

There's something patently humiliating and terrifying about being an 11-year-old tomboy and having a trusted family friend wrap you up in a big bear hug. That bear hug then leads to a full, wet kiss, a wandering finger circling your not-even-there breasts, fondling and stroking you. This happens a few times over the course of months before you speak up and get him banished from the family. You're too scared and ashamed and embarrassed to prosecute, and your well-meaning parents let it go, as you wish. That's nothing compared to what happens to some children, but it's what happened to me. I had the great fortune of having my sexuality thrown in my lap at an age when I still thought boys were 'grody.' I was terrified of all men I wasn't related to for many years; then I decided I wasn't worth anything and slept around a while. Finally, I talked about it with friends and family, and quit being a victim. It's in my past now and doesn't affect my life or sexuality at all. Not anymore. If you enjoyed 'playing doctor' with other children, that's normal developmental behavior. If, however, you're talking about enjoying being molested by an adult, and enjoying it ... wow. If that's how you've chosen to deal with it, fine; just don't go thinking it'd be a great idea to share your 'joy' with another young person. That would make you a pedophile.
POSTED 7/7/2000
Christine, Nashville, TN, United States, 32, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 76200015605
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why do so many Hispanics display huge Nike logos on the back window of their cars and trucks? Many also display their last name spelled out in Gothic letters. I have never seen a car driven by an Anglo with a big Nike logo or their name on the back window.
POSTED 7/5/2000
Joshua, Albuquerque, NM, United States, Male, Mesg ID 75200035630
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I´m 19 and straight but feel really attracted to lesbians. I really like to watch them, but I don´t know why. Can someone explain this to me?
POSTED 7/4/00
Fachita, Cobija, NA, Bolivia, 19, Male, Latin, Straight, Student, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class,Mesg ID 7300122026

Responses:
Throughout my high school years, I, too, was fascinated by women I thought might be lesbians. These included athletes at my school, as well as women in movies/TV or whom I'd happen to see in public. I was intimidated by and ashamed of these feelings, yet I could not stop wondering about these women. All the while, I had monogamous, long-term heterosexual relationships. In adulthood, I thought I'd found the man I would marry, and this inexplicable curiosity about lesbianism subsided. When that 5-year relationship ended, for the first time in my life a (bisexual) woman friend of mine confided in me that she found me attractive. After I got over the initial shock, and over the course of several months, our friendship transformed into a romantic relationship. That's when I understood what all the curiosity was about when I was younger. Dating men was fine, OK, good ... I always liked guys, still do. But being with a woman was... WOW! At last I feel that I know what has been missing all my life. It's been 5 years, and I have not thought about men romantically since.
POSTED 7/7/2000
Michelle, San Diego, CA, United States, <danko68@hotmail.com>, 32, Female, Unitarian, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, research associate, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 762000100217
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I have always wondered how a girl arrives at the point of displaying her private parts to strangers for money, and what the circumstances are. Little girls aspire to be doctors, actresses and lawyers, but surely not nude dancers, so how do they become dancers? Yet I find most nude dancers at strip clubs fascinating. Most I've talked to come from white, middle-class backgrounds and are bright and educated. One girl I got a lap dance from was born and raised in Beverly Hills and attends a reputable four-year university. Not quite a teenage runaway from a troubled home life. So how do these girls become nude dancers? Were they abused sexually in childhood, thus the 'different' view of sexuality? At what point does money become more important than maintaining one's sexual privacy?
POSTED 5/15/00
Noah, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Male, Straight, engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 14200093007

Responses:
We strip because we are smart enough to figure out how to get fast and legal money in this often crude and unfair society. I am well-educated and was raised in a great home. I'm intelligent enough to do whatever I want, but chose to dance for some quick, no-commitment cash. I danced for a while and then quit when I reached a financial goal. This was a few years ago, and I have had no problems with myself and my decisions. But please know two things:
1) We, the 'bright and educated,' are excellent liars to get some green. I could tell you I was from Compton or Beverly Hills, and honey, you wouldn't know the difference.
2) We do it because many 'bright and educated' fools like you waste your money there.
POSTED 7/4/00
Beth, Secaucus, NJ, United States, 25, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, self-employed, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6122000100123
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
To heterosexual men and women: In your relationships, who wants to have sex more often? Is it a myth that men want it more often than women - especially because men reach their sexual peak at 18, and women don't reach theirs until 35-40?
POSTED 7/3/00
Rhiannon, Eden Prairie, MN, United States, 29, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 62900114220

Responses:
First, let's talk about this 'sexual peak at 18' thing that is constantly thrown up at men. Sexual peak, in this context (male), is based on scientific studies that measured frequency of erections, refraction (elapsed time between orgasms), seminal fluid volume and the all-important sperm count and viability. In women, sexual peak is defined as ability to reach orgasm, which appears to be later in life. Notice the unfairness of this. The man's sexual peak is defined in terms of how the equipment runs for straight reproduction. To be fair, in women the comparable would be ability to get pregnant, which is demonstrably in the teenage years as well. Neither measure is sexual peak in my book. Sexual peak is having a satisfying experience for both my partner and I. Quality improves with age and experience in both sexes (and decreases markedly if there are young children in the house). As far as who wants it more, in my limited experience (my marriage), I make the 'moves' 90 percent of the time.
POSTED 7/4/00
Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Corporate Cubicle Guy, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7300112527

Wouldn't it be great if men and women had the same level of sexual desire at the same time? It's my experience, however, that they don't. I've always wanted it more, and that's still the case, even though my wife and I are 36, which should put her at her so-called sexual peak.
POSTED 7/4/00
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au>, 36, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Reporter, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 730080539
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
My friends and I were at the 'Cheesecake Factory,' and the restaurant was very crowded. We were standing in a very small space (there was nowhere else to stand) and many people had to get by us. Most blacks would say 'excuse me' in order to pass, but not one white person did the same. This isn't the first time I've encountered whites not saying those magic words, but on this night it was on a large scale. What's the deal?
POSTED 7/3/00
Sheena, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 29, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6300074736

Responses:
I hate to sound prejudiced, but I've always wondered about this, too. Many white people seem oblivious to the people around them, whether they stand in your way and ignore you as you say 'excuse me,' forcing you to shove your way between or around them, or whether they are doing the shoving, without saying a word.
POSTED 7/4/00
Jennifer R., St. Paul, MN, United States, 29, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Straight, Writer/Student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 730045721

I do say 'excuse me,' 'thank you,' 'you're welcome,' etc. Having said that, let me say that I lived in Mexico and was horrified at the way 'American tourists' interacted with natives. It seemed they always expected to be served and were extremely rude, making me ashamed to be 'American.' I believe it to be a 'mainstream' cultural trait.
POSTED 7/5/2000
Laurene, San Juan Capistrano, CA, United States, 49, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Secretary, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 75200030814

I can only speak for myself. I am a white educated female who way overuses the phrase 'excuse me,' because, well, I don't want to be rude to anyone. People of any color who don't say 'excuse me,' 'please' and 'thank-you' are just plain rude.
POSTED 7/5/2000
Jennifer C., Arlington, VA, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, government employee, Mesg ID 75200021917

I often wondered the same thing, noticing white folks would rather squeeze past me or go out of their way to avoid saying excuse me. I believed it was because they felt it unnecessary to be polite to African Americans. Then I noticed they don't say excuse me to each other often, either. At one point in my career, I worked in retail and was often the first person many of the white salespeople encountered in the morning, and many would not say a simple 'Good morning,' even if I did first. Was it because I was black? Was it because I held a management position? Was it both? I came to the conclusion that they just were not trained to be polite as a matter of course. Being polite for African Americans was not only a sign of good upbringing, but in some instances a matter of life or death. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one witnessing this behavior.
POSTED 7/5/2000
Maggie F., Detroit, MI, United States, 38, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 742000114044

Here's an interesting reversal of your situation: Last year and the year before, when I was in year 11 and 12 at school, I noticed that white kids in year 7 and 8 would always scurry right out of my way if I tried to walk past or through a group of them before I had a chance to say 'excuse me' - but if I were trying to get past Aboriginal kids of the same age, even after excusing myself, I would have to dodge and weave around the kids, because they usually just stood their ground. (By the way, I am 5'2" and extremely slight.) Even if I was (accidentally) obviously on a collision course with another Aboriginal (younger or my age), they would never appear to see me. It doesn't really worry me, but I wonder what it's all about.
POSTED 7/5/2000
Netta, Armidale, NA, Australia, 18, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 74200084646
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why do clergy (particularly black Protestants) often drive luxury cars? I've heard them refer to the car as 'a gift from God.'
POSTED 7/3/00
Beverly P., Lawrence, KS, United States, 40, Female, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6300085646

Responses:
Such a thing usually depends on the denomination and community. Certain churches located in affluent communities may try to project an image of prestige, and the appearance of a well-living senior pastor would greatly contribute to such an image (supported by the hefty tithes and offerings of the affluent parishioners). With certain black churches, some congregations can run pretty large, numbering in the several thousands or even the five-digit range. Pastors there would be able to live well without taking a huge dent out of the coffers. But the majority of pastors I have known are not like this. The senior pastor at my church is in his mid-40s, has four kids (two in college), has a master's degree and makes $25,000 a year. Our blue-collar congregation does what it can to support him and his family. He works 60 hours a week and is under enormous stress. Our old associate pastor worked part-time as a local trucker. The majority of ministers I have known either live modestly or in borderline poverty. This is especially true in most Pentecostal denominations, which are often associated with inner cities and rural areas.
POSTED 7/4/00
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Student, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7300105138
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why are the British so racist and xenophobic? Why do they stereotype and degrade (as part of their 'humor')? What are British children taught about accepting other cultures? How can they say 'all these people are stupid' with good conscience?
POSTED 6/30/00
Regina, New York City, NY, United States, Female, Mesg ID 6300031518

Responses:
I don't accept the implicit assumption of the question: That the United States is less racist and xenophobic. But then, I am Australian and grew up with residual British values here in the middle of the last century. Britain has an established class system, and changes in attitudes tend to work from the middle classes up and down. There's lot of racism and xenophobia in the lowest socio-economic groups, particularly older people. From my point of view, the United States is the most xenophobic country - not because it has negative views toward other countries - more because of its massive general ignorance of most countries. News programs carry little international news unless Americans are involved. Most people in the United States have little idea of government structures in other countries being fundamentally different, and so on. Would other non-United States residents care to comment?
POSTED 7/3/00
Kent, Melbourne, NA, Australia, 58, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, manager, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 63000113650

I'm Irish but live and work in London. My job has taken me all over the world, and I find Londoners probably the least xenophobic people on earth. That's not to say they can't be small-minded, but you find that everywhere. I'd be interested to know why you feel the British are xenophobic. London is now the most ethnically diverse city in the world, although New York has more minorities. The 'black' dance music scene dominates youth culture, the national dish is curry, and on the way to work in the morning you can buy a newspaper from anywhere in the world. It has a thriving, well-integrated gay scene - this weekend saw the largest gay festival in Europe -and at the end of August the Notting Hill carnival will see millions of people from all over the world gather to party to Caribbean music in the streets. Unlike U.S. cities, it is not ghettoized. There are no single-race neighborhoods. Yes, you could give examples of racial tension, but it's the exception. People live side by side with little trouble. Children here don't need to be taught about accepting other cultures, as they live and are educated in a multicultural society. Busing is not necessary. And as for 'taking the piss' out of other nations, just as much of the British humor is self-defacing. I'm not trying to claim it's Nirvana, but on the whole London provides a pretty good example of how people from all over the world can live together if they are willing to tolerate one another. We've got a long way to go here, but we're getting there.
POSTED 7/4/00
Oisin, London, NA, United Kingdom, 25, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Banking, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 730060526

As an American who has lived in London, I have to agree with Kent that we are far more xenophobic than the British. The Brits do have it over us in the class discrimination department. Americans are brought up to believe that we can overcome humble upbringings to be accepted in 'high class' society. In Britain, more specifically in England, a lower-class accent can make one a pariah for life. As to the British sense of humor, it's just drier and more pointed than ours.
POSTED 7/4/00
Emma, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 730030848
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why are most 7-11's and gas stations run by (Asian) Indians?
POSTED 7/3/00
Ginna, Hazlet, NJ, United States, Female, Mesg ID 7100104554

Responses:
Most aren't. Most convenience stores are run by white people. In places where there is a significant Indian/Southeast Asian population, convenience stores are staffed by Indians who need to put food on their table. If you come to this country without established connections or an advanced college degree, you work where you can until you can do better. It may seem particularly so where you live because a lot of immigrants settle in and around New York, but if you drove into an area where the inhabitants were largely of some other group, you'd find the convenience store workers ironically also belong that group; unless there's an established higher and lower class.
POSTED 7/4/00
Amanda, Boston, MA, United States, 21, Female, Black/African American, student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7300102023

About two years ago I was hosting a representative from a large manufacturer in India. We got to be pretty close friends, and I felt comfortable enough to ask him this same basic question - only, I asked why so many 'Patels' seem to own and operate small hotels(Motel 6, Super 8 etc) in the United States. He acknowledged that this was indeed more than a coincidence and had to do with the Indian Caste System. The Patel Caste (if I am calling that by the wrong name, no disrespect intended) are small hotel and shop owners (and presumably other small businesses). When they come to the United States, they do what they know. According to my Indian friend, the older generations can sometimes tend to live within their Caste System, even when living abroad, in presumed freedom. Their children, however, quite often adapt to the freedoms in the United States and take advantage of the opportunities afforded them outside their traditional caste 'definition,' going on to be doctors, lawyers, managers, teachers, etc.
POSTED 7/4/00
David S., Columbia, SC, United States, 30, Male, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7400120645
To respond
BACK TO TOP


    Copyright and disclaimer