Best of the Week
of July 15, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 15, 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 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:

How do hundreds of young black males afford $60,000, tricked-out Escalades but live in the hood? Why would anyone want to live in a shack if you can afford to have expensive clothing/jewelry/car? I don't understand the logic. It seems like it is a sort of peacock syndrome. I would like to find one of these jobs that could afford me these luxuries. But it seems I see these guys cruisin' around while I am at work, so it must be nightshift work of some kind. I don't get it. Everything is for show, it seems, like walking around in a suit made of $100 bills, - and if someone actually made a suit like that, you would see blacks wearing it. Please explain!

POSTED 7/16/2001

Bill, Detroit, MI, United States, Male, Mesg ID 7132001102739


Responses:
You might be making a common, irrational assumption. Often when people notice a few instances of something (in your case, young black guys with fancy cars, jewelry, etc.), we think it is the norm. In fact, you're not noticing the many young black guys with mundane, economical cars and modest clothing. But let's say you are correct, that poor young black men indeed prefer to live in inadequate housing while driving expensive cars. It does seem impractical. It's quite common for poor people to have weak money-handling skills, and many are unable to delay gratification (i.e. save money to improve their lives). Such people (whatever their ethnicity) may have a hard time feeling good about themselves. Fancy clothes and cars might make them feel better for a while. But why do you care what other people choose to spend their money on?

POSTED 7/18/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 7162001115937


I've noticed the same thing among young, mostly urban, black guys, but if you go into some rural, primarily white areas, you will see the same thing with the young guys there. My guess is that young guys like fancy cars, whether poor or rich. But if you don't have much and want to create the illusion that you do, you divert all your finances to highly visible luxury items, like clothes and 'tricked out' cars. Saving money (like for a house) would keep you from hiding your poverty, and this is unpleasant for many. It seems stupid, but well-to-do people don't have to face this dilemma.

POSTED 7/18/2001

T.R., Newark, NJ, United States, 24, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 716200130329


I doubt seriously that 100 Escalades are owned in the entire city of Detroit, let alone hundreds among blacks in the 'hood,' as you say, all presumably cruising by where you work. And where would you have them live? I also doubt that Detroit's pristine vanilla suburbs would welcome them, or that you would welcome them next door to you, wherever that may be. They are no less deserving to dabble with those feel-good things of life than the suburbanite, and they are in all likelihood no less honest in securing their Escalades than the white surubanites are in securing their BMWs. That aside, your priorities and value systems are yours and cannot realistically be expected to be embraced by everyone else just because they are your values and priorities. They are not necessarily universally preferable. Different strokes for different folks. If driving an Escalade makes you feel good, then drive on, for such moments are not often enough in our brief lives. And a person living in the hood is no less deserving of these moments than the greedy, slick cats in the suburbs with their mansions and Rolls, Mercedes, Jaguars or Bently's and yachts on the lake. The guy in the hood has the right to live his life as he sees fit, as long as what he does brings harm to no one else. Cruising by in an Escalade is as harmless as doing so in a Mercedes, Dodge Ram or Ford Taurus. No difference, Bill, unless you want to make it so. The guy in the hood has as much a right to go cruising as the guy in the suburb. Let's not envy him when he exercises that right. So lighten up, get a life, then live and let live.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Floyd L., Memphis, TN, United States, Male, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 717200161738


There is truth to what Bill said above. I spent two years working in retail for a major wireless carrier in the Washington, D.C. area. We had an expectedly large urban black customer base, and yes, they tended toward the more expensive phone equipment. Even if they had a high security deposit due to credit issues, they had no problem paying up to $800 for this deposit, plus $300-$500, all in cash, for a phone like a Motorola StarTac. From conversations with some of these customers, they were definitely trying to impress friends and others by not only having a cell phone, but an expensive one. And yes, I, too have been puzzled by fancier cars (Cadillacs, BMWs, Lexus, etc) parked in front of rundown houses in both Washington and New York. This is not as much of a race issue as a class one, as it seems like the nice car is a source of pride for them. They may not own the house, as many of these properties are leased. But who am I to say how they should spend their money? They just have different priorities than I do.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Pete, New York, NY, United States, Male, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 717200162304


Nowadays it is easier for anybody, including young black males, to qualify credit-wise for a car, especially with many lenders using sub-lenders to finance the buyers. If you could sell a $60,000-car to someone at 15-20 percent interest over a short period of time, with them trading it in for a newer (more expensive) model every couple of years, wouldn't you? It is much more difficult to get approved for a mortgage, especially if you are young and broke, have bad credit, a so-so paying job, etc. Chances are, at that age, they're still living with Mom, anyway, and a $500 car payment won't break the bank.

Today's society is all about image and keeping up with the Joneses, and if THEY'RE out riding in that new car, then you'd better be, too. And it isn't just the black folks. When you hear about $30-40-50,000-plus credit card debt, you better believe Jack and Melissa down the street have been keeping up, too.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Senetra, Anderson, IN, United States, 27, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 717200181518

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Question:

To white men: What do you think of white women who date black men? As you may well know, generally speaking, black women will not hesitate to answer this question, but there seems to be little or no feedback from white men. From the days of slavery, the white man has placed the white woman on a pedestal for the world to see and said, 'You may look, but don't you DARE touch, OR ELSE!' He has deemed her as the 'so-called' standard of beauty. How then do white men - the societal 'top of the totem pole' - feel knowing that growing numbers of white women are dating black men?

POSTED 7/11/2001

K.C. Tate, Jacksonville, FL, United States, Female, Black/African American, Paralegal, Mesg ID 711200175838


Responses:
I've never known any white women who dated black men. I am, though, friends with a couple comprised of a white man and black woman. I say good for him. I hear black women are extraordinarily virile in bed and shut their mouths at the sight of the back of your hand, or so he tells me. As for white women dating black men, it seems to me that the only white women who go in for that sort of thing are fat, white-trash cows and not the sort of women I consider to be in my dating pool, anyway. I've never seen an interracial couple that looks like the ones in McDonalds ads. Usually it's an unholy pair representing the dregs of their respective races, the black guy thinking he's 'sticking it to the man' by sleeping with a white woman who no white man would touch with a 10-foot pole, and the white woman thinking about how pissed her uncle Jesse'll be when he finds out. If they want to get knocked up and spend the rest of their lives raising a child alone, it's a free country and frankly doesn't concern or involve me.

POSTED 7/12/2001

J. Krate, New York, NY, United States, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Middle class, Mesg ID 7122001112910


It's obvious from J.'s response that we have some extremely uneducated people logging in. First of all, J, I know it's perfectly fine to have your opinions. But at least have some decent reasons to back them up. Instead of exhibiting the same ignorance you displayed, I'll stick to the facts because I'm simply better than ignorance. First, I despise the disrespect you seem to have toward black women (actually, toward all black people, as you also indicate later about black males). You have no firsthand knowledge about how a black woman is in bed, or how she acts in the presence of a coward. Thankfully, I'm confident that you never will. How many black male/white female couples do you personally associate with (not 'know of,' but associate with)? The answer is obvious. I'm sure that if you saw me with my woman, you'd think we were 'an unholy pair representing the dregs of their respective races,' as you stereotypically put it. Your profiling mind would be so confused if you actually got to know us. These 'dregs' are educated with 3.75 and 4.1 GPAs. Who's unholy? I know it's not holy to stereotype, so you certainly fit the description. The next time you see a black man with a white woman, think of me and my wife: Christians (yeah, we're holy), madly in lov, and ready to raise our children together. P.S. My woman's size is 34-26-34. That's far from being a fat cow. Don't worry, I'm not hoping you're jealous. I'm just further pointing out how twisted your thinking is.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Tha Real Deal, P-town, IL, United States, Male, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 712200182906


To J: If you consider a 5'3, 115-pound white woman with a bachelor's degree and currently working in her field who is married to a black man with a master's degree who is an officer in the Armed Forces a 'fat white-trash cow,' so be it. You can call me that. That's your opinion. I met my husband 12 years ago at his company. This fine man is the father of our two children and is an outstanding member of the community. I chose to date and then marry my husband because of his religious beliefs and strong character. He is trustworthy, caring and a wonderful provider. As far as the interracial couples you've seen, there are millions of us in the United States. You've got a long way to go before you can comment on all of us as a group. There are people in every walk of life who are married outside of their race and proud of it. I'm so relieved I'm not in your dating pool. Your opinion of women and general lack of respect is obvious by your statement about the back of a man's hand. I guarantee you I speak for every woman in America when I say that any man who would lay a hand on me is not only not worth my time but would be telling how he did it from traction in a hospital bed.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Beth, Jacksonville, FL, United States, 33, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Journalist, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 713200114332


To J: Your response is virulently hateful and matches the negative tone of the woman who posted the question. For someone who is 'unconcerned' and 'uninvolved,' your message screams, 'I'm jealous' or 'I hate them both.' And the fact that you responded at all shows that, contrary to your statement, you were concerned enough to respond. Go and read your Bible. You have a long way to go be Christ-like.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Alicia, Atlanta, GA, United States, Female, Black/African American, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 713200150627


To J: First, you CLAIM to be from New York City... Please, I can't believe someone so ignorant could be living in such a diverse area. I'm sure you've offended not only an entire race of black women, but as a white woman I can only assume I'm not the only white person offended by your nonsensical rantings. Crawl out from under your rock and start living in the real world.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Danielle, Southern, NJ, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Computer Scientist, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 716200153856


To J: Please rethink your opinion that 'the only white women who go in for that sort of thing are fat, white-trash cows.' My closest white girlfriend is married to a black man. I would not classify her in that manner, as she is beautiful, generous and loving, and has a well-kept house along with a full-time job and their new baby. He is a wonderful man who supports and loves his wife and child, and their marriage is a positive example for ANY couple. My husband and I met this couple through church. It has been a blessing to know them as people, not as an 'interracial couple.' I would hope that you get to meet some exceptional people like my friends who open your eyes to the fact that your opinions are not always reality.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Heather, Cincinnati, OH, United States, 26, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 7162001121912


To J: Your friend is wrong. Any man, of whatever skin color, who shows me the back of his hand is going to see the toe of my cowboy boot rapidly approaching his ass. Also, please do not call yourself a Christian. Jesus would not call some of his children 'fat, white-trash cows.'

POSTED 7/18/2001

E.D., Kansas City, MO, United States, 45, Female, Black/African American, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 716200183239


To K.C.: I think you esteem the white world too much. I couldn't care less who dates whom. I actually have a lot of respect for interracial couples because it is not easy on them. I actually find your question to reflect that you are quite a racist, meaning you have these beliefs you level across the entire white race that don't exist. As long as the two people like each other and they have accepting and supportive families/friends, what would it matter to an outsider? I speculate as to what your real intended question/perception is. I mean, do you really care what I think of whom you are dating?

POSTED 7/16/2001

Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 43, Male, White/Caucasian, actor, Middle class, Mesg ID 713200145725


It doesn�t bother me in the slightest. Why should it? Maybe it�s the lack of pedestals around to pop white women on (with "Don�t Touch" signs around their necks), but among my generation of Londoners, relationships between people of different ethnic origins aren�t viewed as remarkable. Within five years, the largest ethnic minority in the United Kingdom will be people of mixed race.

POSTED 7/16/2001

Paul, London, NA, United Kingdom, Male, Mesg ID 713200145915


As a white man, the idea of black men dating or marrying white women doesn't bother me one bit. In fact, I think interracial coupling should be encouraged. It can only lead to greater understanding and diminished friction between such ethnic groups. Only one time in my life, about 15 years ago, did I ever hear a white guy complain about black men dating white women. He thought they (the black men) were after sex. I said, 'What do you think white guys are after?' He had to think about that one.

POSTED 7/16/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 713200162127

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Question:

Is there a term for women (for instance, Camille Paglia, Ayn Rand and so on) who disdain other women and prefer to kiss up to the patriarchal/male establishment, analogous to the black expression 'Uncle Tom' for sellouts and self-loathers?

POSTED 7/16/2001

Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, 30's, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Office manager/writer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 713200155246


Responses:
Good question! I haven't heard of one. Why don't you invent a name for this? While we are at it, I have a candidate term for the reverse - men who sell out and suck up to women - 'Phil Donahueism.'

POSTED 7/18/2001

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 44, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Cubicle Guy, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 717200163614

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Question:

I am writing my thesis on body image issues in adolescent males and am basing my study on the fact that it seems the vast majority of people who wear a shirt while swimming are chubby young boys. This is one of the last groups you would expect to have body image issues. Could anyone who wore a shirt when they swam when they were young explain why they did so?

POSTED 7/16/2001

Ben, Seattle, WA, United States, <chknnabskt@hotmail.com>, 21, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 713200170049


Responses:
I had gynecomastia (male breasts), and they looked just like a young girl's: Very puffy behind the nipples. I was embarrassed, so I wore a shirt. I had a fat friend who was also teased, because his fat breasts stuck straight out, particularly in cold water. So he wore a shirt, too.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Greg, Adelaide, NA, Australia, 34, Male, Catholic, Chinese/Australian Aboriginal, Gay, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 716200152847


Although I am not a chubby young boy, when I was a child and teen, I always wore a tee-shirt when I went swimming. Even though having been raised in a neighborhood where everybody had private pools in their yard and never having had to swim in a public area, I had such a poor image of myself that the thought of anyone seeing me in a bathing suit horrified me. Looking back, I realize I was just slightly overweight, but at the time I thought of myself as a beached whale. As well, I had no breasts, which as any female will tell you is the kiss of death when you are in your teens. I tried to hide what I saw as a horrid figure under the shirt.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Sue, London, Ontario, NA, Canada, 29, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, unemployeed, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 716200154653


I was kind of opposite - I was a skinny kid, and I sunburned easily. I kept a shirt on a lot so I could stay out longer, and because I was self-conscious about not being as built as the other boys.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Mark B., Dallas, TX, United States, <civic-si@swbell.net>, 40, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Financial Analyst, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 716200163404


I wasn't a young boy, but I grew up in South Florida, and I'm a redhead. I wore t-shirts all the time, especially on the beach. In fact, I was one of the few lifeguards who never tanned. I would suspect that those kids have smart mothers who want to stop skin cancer.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Beth, Wamego, KS, United States, Female, Mesg ID 716200183909


I sometimes had to wear a shirt when I was swimming outside because I have very fair skin and would get a sunburn very easily. If I didn't wear one and just wore sunscreen and kept applying it, I would usually look like a lobster if I stayed out for any length of time. I had to wear one. I don't know about other people's cases, but I am thin and never tried to 'hide' my body with a shirt. Of course, when I went swimming indoors, I never wore a shirt.

POSTED 7/18/2001

David, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 717200164746


During a certain time period of my teenage years, I had a bit of a weight problem. I would wear a t-shirt swimming because 1) I didn't want my flab flopping around for all to see, and 2) I was already trying my darnedest to hide it the entire rest of my life at the time. Even the most obviously chubby kid will try to at least conceal the amount of chubbiness they possess, and to say that they don't have body issues is preposterous. Quite the opposite, in fact. Even today I have trouble with this. I'm covered with solid muscle and can probably outlift most any jock, but I've still got the remnants of a tummy and lovehandles, so I'm not exactly anxious to take my shirt off when it's warm or when I'm in the water.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 22, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, Student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 717200185316


Even though I am not a male, you must understand that it is not only young adolescent males who have this problem. When I was in primary school and even through my high school years, I used to do the same thing. I guess for females it is more of a body image issue, though I believe it is the same for males. Can you imagine what it is like for a young boy who is ridiculed about how 'fat' he is what it would be like to show his body in public? By concealing his negative body image, he may begin to think that all the ridiculing will stop.

POSTED 7/18/2001

Penny, Melbourne, NA, Australia, 20, Female, Orthodox Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, university student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 7172001101730

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Question:

Why is it that a lot of men can't handle a woman who is emotionally and financially secure? Although most are initially intrigued by my ability to take care of myself, they soon try to regain the 'upper hand' or control. Is this a male trait? Also, because I speak my mind without hesitation (without using ignorance or profanity, mind you), I am referred to as 'bitchy.' Why is this?

POSTED 7/12/2001

Susan, Jacksonville, FL, United States, 41, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Real Estate, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 711200154238

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Question:

Is the movie Baby Boy an accurate portrayal of growing up as an African American?

POSTED 7/16/2001

Rikki A., Gainesville, FL, United States, <trikki1@bellsouth.net>, 24, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, student/server, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 7142001122709

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Question:

Why is that most erotic/porn pictures show women with nipples that point upward and not nipples that point downward (i.e. 'pointy')? White women sometimes do have 'pointy' breasts, but it seems like there is a negative attitude about showing them or thinking of them as attractive.

POSTED 7/9/2001

H.C., Jerusalem, NA, Israel, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 79200161403


Responses:
It seems to me that Western notions of what a female body should look like in order to be considered beautiful correspond largely to a norm of Caucasian body shape, plus youth, plus possible breeding and nurturing abilities. Thus, women with full breasts, healthy skin, glossy hair, good teeth, shapely hips and bottom, etc. are considered attractive. Pointy breasts are, as you noticed, not that common, and may be additionally reminiscent of breasts sagging after repeated births and breast-feeding, as far as the shape goes. Depending on a cultural definition, this might be seen as testifying to a woman's (established) fertility, thus desirable, or testifying to a woman's age (post several births) thus less desirable. I reckon in a Western cultural context, the definition tends toward the latter, while many African cultures tend toward the former and thus find pointy breasts particularly desirable.

POSTED 7/16/2001

T.C., Stuttgart, NA, Germany, 32, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7132001125708

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Question:

In Jewish dietary laws, I understand meat and milk-based products cannot be mixed. Can fish and milk be mixed, i.e. cod in cheese sauce?

POSTED 7/6/2001

Paul W., Liverpool, NA, United Kingdom, <pwildman@classicfm.net>, 46, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Analyst/Programmer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 76200115728


Responses:
Yes, fish and milk can be mixed and it's still considered kosher. I have no idea why.

POSTED 7/16/2001

Keren, Miami, FL, United States, 17, Female, Jewish, Gay, student, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 7132001120228

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