Best of the Week
of July 16, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 16, 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.

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Question:
Is it normal for a woman to have tiny bumps on the skin of her nipples?
POSTED 7/19/2000
John, Redmont, MA, United States, 21, Male, White/Caucasian, student, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class,Mesg ID 7192000122846

Responses:
The bumps are the ends of the mammary ducts. There are about 20 of these on each nipple, and they help drain milk from different segments of the breast. Some women's are more noticeable than others, but unless there's some unusual inflammation or redness around them, they're fine.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Becca S., St. Paul, MN, United States, <freudella@yahoo.com>, 34, Female, Unitarian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Writer/Technogeek, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7192000104222

Yes, they are normal. They are called Montgomery glands.
POSTED 7/21/2000
J.B.S., Corvallis, OR, United States, Mesg ID 719200070027

If you are talking about the skin surrounding the nipple, the areola, yes it is normal. The areola is the circular part around the nipple itself, generally the same color as the nipple. The skin is roughened, which is what you may be thinking are bumps. Depending on the person, the nipple may also be 'wrinkled.' This is more noticeable on a woman when her nipples aren't erect. Perhaps either one of these is what you are thinking of as bumps. Regardless, nipples are a lot like snowflakes: No two are the same. If a woman has breastfed a child, her nipple will, most likely, be different than it was a year before breastfeeding. If you're worried about something you've noticed on your partner, you might want to ask her about it. Only she can tell if it's normal, seeing as how none of us responding have seen this woman's nipples (most likely).
POSTED 7/21/2000
Stacey, Boston, MA, United States, <stimply@bigfoot.com>, 28, Female, Middle class, Mesg ID 719200054608

Yep, indeed it is - as long as you are talking tiny bumps...
POSTED 7/21/2000
Iteki, Stockholm, NA, Sweden, <iteki@chickmail.com>, 24, Female, Recovering Catholic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 719200035312
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Question:
Why are the vast majority of over-the-road truckers from the South? Is there anything in particular about this occupation that appeals to Southerners?
POSTED 7/19/2000
Dave, Las Cruces, NM, United States, Male, Mesg ID 718200013759

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Question:
I am utterly frustrated. I am a 31-year-old attractive, successful woman who happens to use a wheelchair. Like any human being, I am capable of love and intimacy and want very much to share my life with someone. However, I have found that, in general, men are either afraid of or intimidated by me. Some even give me looks like 'Yeah, right, I don't think so.' It is very hurtful to experience a barrage of rejection on a daily basis. I have many friends and am an actress and singer. Through all of my many exciting experiences, I have yet to meet someone to be with. Why is this a problem for men? Do you guys really think you would be looked at as pathetic if you dated a woman in a wheelchair? Do you honestly think a woman in a wheelchair is unable to have sex?
POSTED 1/31/2000
Maria J. C., Bridgewater, NJ, United States, 31, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, use wheelchair, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 817199925821

Responses:
I am dating a woman in a wheelchair, and we have a great and normal relationship. Other than the fact that she is in a wheelchair, there is nothing different about our relationship. We have a great sex life, and yes, she is very able to have great sex; in fact, I think she enjoys it more than I do. So to all those people in wheelchairs who are afraid they won't find anyone or that no one will want them, never fear. You will find someone. And to those who avoid people in chairs, shame on you. You might as well avoid people of different heights, or colors.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Michael, Denver, CO, United States, 27, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Technical School , Middle class, Mesg ID 717200011636

Personally, I am attracted to women in wheelchairs. There's a whole wide world out there, so don't be discouraged.I believe there is someone for everybody.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Stephen, Sydney, NA, Australia, Male, Mesg ID 77200015643
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Question:
Are Christians inherently masochistic? I was watching this documentary on S&M, and they drew a relationship between basic Christian doctrine and sado-masochism. Does anybody understand the correlation between the two?
POSTED 7/19/2000
Fionna, London, NA, United Kingdom, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 718200011554

Responses:
I don't know what kind of documentary you were watching, and I don't see how anyone can make a correlation between Christianity and masochism. One has nothing to do with the other. A Christian is someone who believes and accepts the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as full payment for their sins and has asked to be forgiven. Period. Where does masochism enter in?
POSTED 7/21/2000
Redeemed1, Newport News, VA, United States, 52, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7202000104006

Is it inherent in Christianity? No. Influenced? Perhaps. I was raised Catholic and am drawn to S & M. I've read a lot of literature and testimonials about it, practiced it and met numerous people in the S & M community. Most of the S & M people I've met, as well as the insider-writers on the subject, come from a Christian or Jewish background, with a spectrum of indoctrination ranging from none to strict. All are atheistic and embrace a certain hedonism frowned upon by any religious upbringing. That said, Judaism and most sects of Christianity tend to value suffering. Think of the historical persecution of the Jews whose events are commemorated in Jewish holy days, and all the martyrs in the Catholic gallery of saints. In addition, most Christian religions teach that any sex outside of marital reproduction is a sin that deserves punishment. For me, the pleasure of sex combined with the indoctrination that it's a sin (and that suffering is good) took me to a place where sex with punishment and suffering is more exciting than 'vanilla' sex. But maybe my Catholic upbringing had nothing to do with it, and I just like S & M. I'm convinced that few or none of my fellow alumnae from convent school like S & M, and that the vast majority of ex-Christians, Christians and Jews I know do not practice S & M or fantasize about it. S & M is an expensive hobby requiring leisure time, toys and (for some) professional services. It's definitely more popular in Protestant cultures with mature economies, e.g. England, Germany, the Netherlands and United States. This skewed popularity may have more to do with money than religion. There's also a theory that abuse and incest survivors are drawn to S & M, but I think the sociologic statistics crunch out the same: Some are, most aren't.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Name withheld, San Francisco, CA, United States, 40, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Technician, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7202000125002
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Question:
A friend of mine has been arrested and is looking at some prison time. He's already in city jail and is not having an easy time. He is white, originally from Russia. I'm curious if white guys always have it hard in prison, and how they could get over it. Do they have to kill assaulters, or can they just fight them off?
POSTED 7/19/2000
Mickey, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY, United States, 18, Male, Mesg ID 718200025414

Responses:
First, I'd like to say I'm sorry for your friend's misfortune. Maybe he's guilty of the crime for which he's been convicted, but the prospect of prison is not something I'd wish on anyone. I've read some abstracts about how to survive in prison in the course of my human rights work. From what I've read, it seems that it depends on what kind of prison your friend is going to -Minimum, Medium or Maximum. The first two might indicate less-crowded conditions, and less stress among the population, so less potential for violence. In a less violent population, it's possible that your friend might have more of an opportunity to 'do his own time' and be left alone, as long as he doesn't bother anyone else. No matter what level of security the prison happens to be, however, it's possible that your friend will have to defend himself, anyway. In terms of his ethnicity, some will maintain that the only way to be safe is to split along ethnic lines, that you don't have a choice. Most white prisoners align themselves with the Aryan Brotherhood. This is in exchange for protection from others not of the Brotherhood. The blacks sometimes split among the gang affiliations to which they belonged on the streets, but if something happens between a white and a black, chances are that there will be a moratorium on gang separations. Hispanics also have a gang. If your friend prefers not to join with anyone, and even if he does, he may, indeed, have to fight. Even if he loses, it will show that he's not willing to simply let others take advantage of him - and people will be testing him right away. It can be something as minor as trying to take his food, or something as major as trying to make him a 'punk,' i.e. a surrogate woman. I can't offer more specific advice unless I know what he's going in for or how long he'll be there or what kind of prison he's going to. Some prisoners, i.e., pedophiles and child-murderers, are hated by everyone, and likely won't be helped by any other group, no matter what their ethnicity. I'll pray for your friend, and I hope he'll be OK.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Jennifer R., St. Paul, MN, United States, <DKFLWR@aol.com>, 29, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Straight, Writer/Student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 720200040931

It depends on several things: 1) Whether he is a lightweight or a heavyweight. If he's a (no disrespect intended) punk, then he'll be treated as such. But if he's a pretty tough guy with a sharp mind, he can build his reputation and gain respect. 2) How many other whites are in the pen he's going to. If it's 8 percent white and the rest black and Latino, he'd probably be in big trouble. But if whites are a sizeable population, he may be able to fit in. Also, there is a growing Russian criminal presence on the East Coast, and he would probably be able to find refuge without too much looking. 3) How young he is. Young guys who go in fresh and who committed minor crimes (burglary, stealing cars, etc.) usually get it the worst. But if he's a crusty, middle-aged guy who goes in for robbing a bank, he'd probably be left alone. 4) How well he is able to stay inconspicuous. One does have to hang with one's respective race and honor the respective heads (leaders), but it is best to retain a low profile and try to avoid as much trouble as possible. Hopefully the most he'd ever have to do to stay on their good side is back them up in a riot or go beat some guy up. What he'll want to do is keep his behavior record good, or else he'll be doing more time than it already looks like. All in all, prison is a terrible place. Take note, kids. Do whatever it takes to stay out of it.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 720200024457

Have your friend prepare himself for even harder times. Some of the friends I grew up with made the same dumb choices your friend did. They always said city jail is much easier than actual prison. The violence in prison is so extreme it's almost impossible to exaggerate. Being white has little to do with how hard or easy his time will be. Prisons try to keep the different groups as segregated as possible, and the inmates further choose to segregate themselves. Russians stick together, Italians stick together, Jamaicans, Black Muslims, etc. Most fights and rapes happen between men of the same ethnic background - unless he is dumb enough to try to get into one of the prison gangs. So the people he should fear most look just like him and will be the ones trying to fight him and f*** him. The prison gangs use racist fears (very successfully) to get recruits or get people to pay for protection. No, he should not kill his attacker, unless he has no choice. Think about it: That would just lengthen his stay and/or get him thrown in solitude and/or get other people trying to take revenge. But he shouldn't back down, either; that will just make things worse. Hopefully, the bad experiences will teach him the most important thing - to never do anything that would get him sent back there.
POSTED 7/21/2000
A.C.C., W Lafayette, IN, United States, Mexican and American Indian, Mesg ID 720200015708

When I worked as a corrections officer in a maximum security prison in California, it was not my perception that white guys had a harder time than anyone else. There are a few distinct groups among the whites, like the bikers and the skinhead/white supremacists, but not everybody belonged to these groups. Other races have gangs of their own, but like I said, not everyone belongs to a gang. Some of the inmates are intimidated into joining these gangs because they are told that bad things will happen to them if they don't. These gangs will offer the inmate 'protection' if they join the gang, but once they join they will be pressured to do things that they don't necessarily want to do and end up getting more time. As far as how to handle a situation where the inmate is being targeted, he should stand up for himself and possibly ask the staff to be relocated to another housing unit. It is definitely not necessary to kill the aggressor. It would be a very short-sighted solution, and in fact, would make your friend's situation a lot worse.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Michell, Dayton, OH, United States, 33, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 720200010953
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Question:
Why don't Chinese restaurants have windows?
POSTED 7/17/2000
Rackula, Windsor, MI, Canada, 30, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, chef apprentice, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 715200041358

Responses:
I love Asian cuisine. There are many Chinese restaurants in the Baltimore area, and every one I've been in has windows. In places like New York, some restaurants are located in the basements of old buildings with areaway entrances, but if they have no windows, it's due to architecture, not ethnicity.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Laura, Bel Air, MD, United States, 39, Female, White/Caucasian, writer/teacher/editor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7172000110409

According to Feng Shui as I understand it, a window is a passageway. While one is enjoying the bounty of a good meal, one would want a mirror to reflect bounty, rather than a window to let good energy pass through.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Beth, Buffalo, NY, United States, <bethipoo@yahoo.com>, 33, Female, Jewish, Mexican/EasternEuropean Ashkenazic, Straight, Advertising Agency Network Manager, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 7192000100731
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Question:
Why do they say male gynecologists have a dead sex life? Is it true, or is it just another myth?
POSTED 7/17/2000
Melinda, San Diego, CA, United States, <lonelygirl_007@yahoo.com>, 24, Female, Christian, Asian, Straight, student, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 715200042959

Responses:
I read somewhere that they have the highest rate of infidelity.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Lili, San Francisco, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 717200092010

My OB/GYN has four kids. Go figure.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Laura, Bel Air, MD, United States, 39, Female, White/Caucasian, writer/teacher/editor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 7172000110517
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Question:
Why is it that there are, in my area, an above-average number of red-headed Causasian women involved in relationships with black men?
POSTED 7/17/2000
Oliver, Savannah, GA, United States, <oliver@rocketship.com>, 39, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Mesg ID 715200045116

Responses:
I don't know the answer, but thought as a redhead I should speak up. I've never seriously dated a black man. Although I would consider it, I've never met the right one. Also, I've always assumed that most black men weren't attracted to me.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Jennifer C., Arlington, VA, United States, Female, redhead, Mesg ID 719200042300
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Question:
I've noticed that black people in my predominantly black neighborhood tend to be very open about the use of marijuana. They will often sit outside in front of their door or out on the apartment steps and smoke blunts or joints. This seems to be socially acceptable, even to the point of smoking in front of young children. Now I don't have a problem with pot smoking (I smoke myself), and I find that pot-smokers tend to be mellower and more friendly (I'd take pot-smoking neighbors over drunk neighbors any day), but I'm wondering what the view of pot is among black communities. It seems to be so casual and open (whereas in white communities, you really have to hide it). What do black people feel about the fact that so many of their own people are going to prison for such a widespread activity?
POSTED 7/17/2000
Sarah I., Tampa, FL, United States, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, graphic designer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 715200095509

Responses:
First, I'd like to posit that black people who are incarcerated on drug charges are not going because they were smoking pot. That is, unless they're selling large quantities, or growing, which is the same reason whites are incarcerated with regard to weed. As far as usage, most blacks who smoke blunts, whether out on the stoop or not, are part of the rap/hip-hop subculture. These folks tend to have kind of a low-grade defiance underpinning whatever they choose to do. I guess the attitude might be, "Well, I have to fear the law anyway, and I just ain't gonna let 'em scare me all the time." Kind of a 'bring it on' type thing. Resignation, maybe. In terms of smoking in front of young children, in my ganja days, I noticed that white people also didn't bother to hide the fact that they were smoking in front of them. They just did it in the house, or in a crowd of people large enough that it would be more trouble than it was worth for any police presence to figure out where 'that smell' was coming from.
POSTED 7/18/2000
Jennifer R., St. Paul, MN, United States, <DKFLWR@aol.com>, 29, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Straight, Writer/Student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 717200071600

Where I'm from, it appears that pot smoking is not a particularly well-hidden habit among white people at all. During college and after, I have known a host of white people who openly, publicly embody the 'stoner' image complete with bong on the coffee table and joint in the purse. My white parents smoked pot in front of me, too. And they are mainstream, non-hippy people. Perhaps the reason black people are 'going to prison for such widespread activity (if that really is why they're going to prison)' lies in the law enforcement and judicial system (racial biases and whatnot), since, in my observations, I have not noticed any discrepancy of the type you're suggesting.
POSTED 7/18/2000
Lisa, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class,Mesg ID 717200073713
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Question:
How do other big women handle nasty comments made about their weight in public? I have had men (and it has always been men) call out 'fat bitch' to me on the street, and other nasty, crude comments. Most people's advice is 'just ignore it, just don't let it bother you.' That's easy to say when you're not the one who gets called a 'fat bitch' in public. And to men who do this sort of thing, do you have any understanding of how humiliating and hurtful being treated like this is?
POSTED 7/14/2000
Jenny, Wellington, NA, New Zealand, 35, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Librarian, Technical School, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7122000122057

Responses:
Kia Ora, Jenny. I haven't engaged in such behavior since grade school, but I've made it an odd habit of mine to study these sort of things. I believe it is one of the roots of human nature to treat differently those who are different from what the society considers 'normal.' I know that in New Zealand, there is quite a bit more of an emphasis on being thin or athletic than here (one of my best friends is a Kiwi). Anyone who doesn't fit the mold is taken note of, and much like the malformed chick who is pecked to death by the mother hen, society chews them up and spits them out. It's not just with weight problems: it can be facial features, hair, voice, mannerisms, intellect, socialization within pop culture or any number of things, regardless of whether it's within the person's control. I reckon the best path is to realize they are ignorant and know not what they do. Most people grow out of it by the time they leave grade school, but some just never learned.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 714200080557

I say take a lesson from your African-American sisters. A while back there was discussion on Y Forum about how white women have trouble with their self-esteem if they are not 'skinny,' but that black women seldom seem to. The consensus(and I would agree) was that black women in America like their bodies more and don't obsess as much about being the 'perfect size 6.' Personally, I think a few extra pounds are very attractive. More curves to appreciate
POSTED 7/17/2000
Alma, Kempner, TX, United States, 47, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, contract employee, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 716200043226

Jenny, I'm sorry you had to go through such unpleasantness. Those guys are a**holes. I never have understood such behavior. I remember in my college dorm when some of the guys thought it would be funny to put "No Fat Chicks" signs on everyone's door because female college students sometimes cut through our dorm to get out of the cold on their way to class. I thought, 'Why try to make people feel bad?' I went around and tore down all the signs and threw them away. This seemed to perplex the pigs who posted them. I think maybe such behavior makes the men feel macho or something. Blame society as well as them.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 719200012814

I'm in the same boat as you and it sucks! Why should we care what people we don't even know say and think about us? As if the people who are calling out names are so attractive themselves. Nine times out of 10 they are ugly (outside and in). If you find ignoring them difficult, or if it's not making you feel in control of the situation, then don't ignore them. Do what makes you feel good. Shout 'skinny wanker' or 'I'm not a bitch, I'm lovely' back with as much venom as you can. These people are so used to us fat people being the victim that I bet they fall over with shock when you don't behave like one. Also, if you stop acting like a victim, you'll stop feeling like one too.
POSTED 7/21/2000
B.B., Edinburgh, NA, United Kingdom, <Elizabeth.Baines@bbsrc.ac.uk>, 26, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, PhD Student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 719200080645

I have to tell you that this is a really hard topic for me. I have been overweight my entire life, but in the last few years I have managed to drop 170 pounds (I don't know how that translates to kilos, sorry) due to illness, and am now just chubby rather than obese. I went from a size 30 to a 12. I cannot get the idea that I am obese out of my head. I have been taunted, physically abused (an ex-boyfriend once grabbed my gut and twisted it, threatening me to lose weight), and embarrassed beyond belief. I am still uncomfortable with my body because I now have pouchy skin where the fat once lived. I find that meditating on my good qualities seems to help, but I will never, ever forget the sting of hatred against my body. I wish I could give you advice - remember that you are a good person and love yourself. I know that's hard, but just hold your head high and move on. PS - Been to Wellington - the restaurant portions are huge and delicious. That can't be easy, either!
POSTED 7/21/2000
Beth, Buffalo, NY, United States, <bethipoo@yahoo.com>, 32, Female, Jewish, Eastern European Ashkenazic/Mexican, Straight, Advertising Agency Manager, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 717200045809

Such comments must really hurt. And though I'm ashamed to admit it, I'll be honest: There are times I find myself reacting negatively to those I see who are severly overweight, though I don't ever say anything to anyone. It makes me pause, and realize the problem, and look at the situation differently. So I have to ask myself: 'Why? Why do people react negatively to those who are overweight?' All I can come up with are two possible answers:
1. It's culturally coded: somehow, somewhere, society tells us it not desirable to be overweight - although, with the exception of health reasons - it shouldn't matter as long as you're happy. Right? Yet, anyone who 'falls out of the norm' is seen as different: hence, undesirable. This is a terrible knee-jerk reaction and very wrong. Those who can't reign in their reactions are just plain ignorant. They can't see the human first. Until a person can truly understand and look at himself/herself, he/she will always be a slave to kneejerk reactions.
2. Those who make hurtful comments about others are afraid. Either afraid of becoming what they see, or, more than than likely, afraid of their own worst self being exposed. So they divert the attention to someone else to enhance their own self-worth. They are reacting out of their hurt/insecurity.
Either way, these people are slaves to their own hurt and ignorance. Really sad, huh? Take this information as consolation that people who act/react to people for no good reason other than the other person is overweight are slaves to their own unenlightenment. Also, I've heard of other people handling those who've been mean to them with a little dose of honesty mixed with sympathy. For example, a person who had a roommate who was always harsh to everyone countered her sarcastic barbs with, 'Was someone really mean to you as child?' or 'You must be having a really bad week to react/act the way you've been acting.' Whether you say something or not is not the point. Just know it's not you, it's them. If you're happy with who you are, that should be all that matters.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Dawn, Boston, MA, United States, 31, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Admin Asst/Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 717200042124
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Question:
Why does it seem that many white people don't understand that blacks in America are the only race of people who were stripped of religion, culture and heritage? Or that we were forced into adopting their way of living? Or how frustrating it is to not know our ancestory and where in Africa we come from? White people can trace their geneology, but when blacks try, the furthest we ever get back to is the slaveship. Can a white person explain to me why he or she may never have thought, "Maybe this is why blacks in America have so much hate inside"?
POSTED 7/14/2000
MIke A., Brooklyn, NY, United States, 25, Male, Black/African American, Straight, college student, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7122000115632

Responses:
I hate to tell you, but black Americans are NOT the only group of people that was oppressed. History is filled with examples of one group oppressing another for no better reason than that they could get away with it. Blacks are not much different from any of a hundred other races or ethnic groups. It does not serve any purpose to bring attention to your past problems by pretending to be unique; it would be better to spend your energy bettering yourself. Moreover, not all blacks in America are angry. I know quite a few who can recognize the futility in trying to punish the present generation for the sins of 100 years ago. They've learned to get a life; you should do the same, too.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 41, Male, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 717200030232

I agree that many white people don't understand the reason black people have so much hate. I believe many have the attitude that 'slavery is over, it's not our fault, it happened and it would never happen today so get over it...' I have NO tolerance for racism of any kind, and feel for any victims of it, black or white. It's got to be frustrating not to be able to track your geneology, and all of the issues surrounding that. Slavery was the most horriffic period in our country for black people, and I think most white people agree on that. I don't, however, think that those white people who are blind to what happened back then mean to be; it just doesn't pop into our minds every day. I don't look at someone and immediately decipher whether they're black or white and then whether to feel sorry for them. I don't look at any ethnicity and think about what their ancestors went through. It doesn't mean I don't care. I love all people.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Jodie S., Detroit, MI, United States, 27, Female, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Support Executive, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 715200085524

Genealogy is my hobby, and I have often thought it must be especially hard to be a black genealogist in America, because the records would only go back so far. I think we have a need to know where we came from (look at the years of searching that adopted children go through to find their birth parents), and I can see that it would be very frustrating to not even know what country your ancestors came from. I don't understand the hate thing, though. The slave owners are long dead, and living white Americans may have their genetic material, but you can't inherit sin. Who exactly do you hate, and why? In my family tree, there is at least one guy who owned slaves, several men who fought on the Union side of the Civil War and a couple who fought on the Confederate side. I don't regard them as evil or good. I think they were a product of what they were taught by their parents and pastors and leaders of that time. Are you hating all white Americans because of what their ancestors might have done? Do you hate me? Do you hate my two-year-old daughter? Will all of your descendants hate all of my descendants?
POSTED 7/17/2000
Amy, Charleston, WV, United States, 28, Female, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Lab Tech, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 714200080547

I'm not trying to say this makes your feelings any less important, but Australian Aboriginals have to deal with many of these same problems, as far as I can tell. But I don't know about Aboriginals having so much hate inside. Again, as far as I can tell, being a white person, they just want to be treated fairly and have people recognize that life in Australia didn't start 200 years ago {with the arrival of the Brits}. Reconciliation, in other words. I don't think I have the capacity to understand your problems at all, because I'm a 'privileged white middle-class girl.' It's not that I've never thought about them - I have - but in the end all I feel I can do without going over the top is to say I'm so sorry for what my ancestors did.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Netta, Armidale, NA, Australia, 18, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 714200080230

Mike, I'm glad that more than one person brought up the fact that African Americans are indeed not the only ones who have been stripped of language, culture, religion, etc. We black people really need to check ourselves on this issue, at least with regard to the indigenous people of this country. To everyone: I don't know whether or not when black people 'complain' that it has only to do with slavery. When I have a hard time, it's because I get the sense that I don't really belong anywhere. I'm not an African, and although I might visit Africa some day, I would much rather live here than in many places there. At the same time, I don't feel fully American, either. My ancestors have likely been here longer than many of the ancestors of white Americans, and despite the fact that every immigrant group has had to suffer greatly to fit into the fabric, they have steadily passed us by. Why? When you're white, and from Italy, for example, you can learn English with a flawless accent, change your name and blend in. But with dark skin, there is no way to do so. One of the first ways to scrape off your 'otherness' as an immigrant was to find someone else to be 'other' after you. That was always us. You might be Irish/Italian/Slavic, but at least you weren't a nigger. Something else I'd like some white people to understand is that 'keeping black people down' extends *way* beyond slavery. Please stop reducing all of our feelings down to that. Please stop saying, 'Slavery ended 200 years ago!' without understanding that after a brief period, it was simply replaced with sharecropping and Jim Crow, which didn't end until 1965, not to mention all the small ways we've been consistently fucked over almost every time we've tried to attain something for ourselves. I think white people have the right to say, 'Don't try to make me feel guilty for something I had no part in', but please learn to tell the difference between someone expecting you to feel guilty and needing to understand that it's your history, too. No one needs your guilt. I just want people to aknowledge the truth of history. Screw all those who say you're evil just because you're white. Don't fall for that shit. But for goddsake, you can't tell us to get over it when it's not over. You can't tell us to try to change our circumstances instead of complaining, and then accuse us of complaining when we agitate!
POSTED 7/17/2000
Jennifer R., St. Paul, MN, United States, <DKFLWR@aol.com>, 29, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Straight, Writer/Student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 714200070443

The majority of slaves were not captured by whites, but purchased from black Africans. Do you extend your hate to black Africans as well as white people? If you did, that would be irrational. Black Africans alive today are not responsible for events that occurred 100 years before they were born - just as white people are not.
POSTED 7/17/2000
Dave, San Francisco, CA, United States, <matsdad@sirius.com>, 36, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Manager, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 714200044255

I agree with Jennifer that whites need to make more of an effort to understand our situation as African-Americans - and I call myself that because I don't feel like an American, either. This is why there are Chinese-Americans, Mexican- Americans and other 'Hyphen-Americans.' Whites seem to want to sweep all the wrongs they do under the historical rug, from the theft of the New World by the Portuguese, Spanish, British and others to the theft and 'colonization' of major portions of Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. 'Let it go,' they say. 'That was in the past,' they whine. How conveniently they forget that it has been only within my lifetime that blacks in the United States have even been able to freely vote, or that there has been only one generation after mine in which 1) we have not had to endure the fear of not being able to love who we wanted because of miscegenation laws, 2) we can buy a house wherever we can afford to, 3) we can eat anywhere we choose, or 4) shop anywhere we like. It really hasn't been that long. And to answer Dave about the slave trade: while it seems true that there were blacks sold by other blacks into slavery, who were the ones doing the buying? Even the best salesman cannot sell if there are no customers. Bringing up this fact is nice historically, but I have found that whites who do this act like the little boy who points at his dog when his mother confronts him about the lamp he just broke. There is no absolution or lessening of guilt here. One more thing: I think that the road to healing and forgiveness can be traveled by all races much more smoothly if those doing the wrong to others simply stopped. People would have no reason to bring up the past if it were also not the present. When I can look my children in the eye and tell them truthfully that the color of their skin means nothing in this society, and that only the color of their souls does, then I will 'Let it go.' Not before.
POSTED 7/19/2000
Ron, El Cajon, CA, United States, 38, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Straight, Artist, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 717200022053

It isn't that we don't know these things. For me, it is rather the fact that the shipping of slaves from African occurred almost 200 years ago. I am sure it was terrible, but I notice that instead of moving forward, there seems to be this desire to relish in the misery. Being a gay person, I too know something about bigotry and being denied God, relationships and a fulfilling life. But I try my best to keep my head high and live my life. Don't get me wrong, I speak about the injustices my people experience. I believe the Jewish people have done a good job of moving forward after the Holocaust, yet never letting us forget what can happen. That only occurred 60 years ago. They have since started Israel, where many have relocated to make it a powerful country. With respect to researching one's roots, isn't that more of a reflection on the cultures in Africa than the current state of affairs in America? In Europe, they have been recording births, deaths and families for century upon century. Why African cultures didn't is a question you will have to ask of them. If I may, there is one question I have always wanted to ask. If so many Americans of African descent are so unhappy here, have they ever thought of relocating to Africa? And if they have, why haven't they? I know the cultures would be very differnt, but over there, there would be like people, and the good could be taken from here (i.e. education, business skills, arts)while leaving the racist bad behind.
POSTED 7/19/2000
Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 42, Male, White/Caucasian, actor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 717200090248

The answer is no. Knowing one's heritage is a fact that most white Americans can and do take for granted. Is it our televisions? Our families? Our schools? Russell Banks lamented recently (Harpers Magazine, June 2000, p. 83) that Americans as a whole know little about what he calls the African Diaspora, the phenomenon of the African migration and assimilation into post-Civil War America. This 'Creole-American' story is 'the one we all share, regardless of how we label ourselves on the left side of the hyphen.' We live in a country dominated by European ideals: free markets and gold medals and prescription drugs and Hollywood, and maybe that's why I spent most of my formative years learning about the War of the Roses and not any time at all on Timbuktu. I feel schools should teach about our collective origin, as Americans, in Africa. I don't want to feel that because I am white I cannot be proud of this heritage, which affects me every day. Just as whites like to think minorities should know what the House of Tudors was, because descendants of that people wrote our Declaration of Independence, so too, do I wish I could have learned about my shared culture in Africa. The history of blacks is not African-American history, it's American History. With knowledge, we beget ignorance and hatred.
POSTED 7/19/2000
Scott M., Humacao, Puerto Rico, NA, United States, 25, Male, Unitarian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7182000100941

I think the real question you should be asking, Mike, is whether white people can empathize with the plight of black people in this country. It is one thing to understand (or to say you understand); it's a whole other issue to feel what another might feel. Especially if that other person has had experiences in this society that are different from yours. As a young black female in this country, I know that I see the world in a different way than say, an 80-year-old white man sees it. This is something I have come to accept. The only way to get empathy from someone is if they go through what you go through. It's possible for a white person to understand what has happened to black people. But he or she could never feel the same degree of anger that you and others like you feel, because as a people, they haven't lived your life or seen the world through your eyes. That is why it is hard for different cultures to agree on things sometimes. You always have to combat over-defensiveness.
POSTED 7/19/2000
K.R., Atlanta, GA, United States, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 718200024327

Jennifer's answer is the only logical reply I have ever seen on this issue. She acknowledges that holding all whites responsible doesn't cut it, but she also identifies how racism has changed only its manner, not its intent or outcome in this country. Every day, black Americans are discriminated against in this country. The problem is still very prevalent. But the answer is not to copy that behavior or use a 'blanket blame' policy. The answer is to teach by example and hold irresponsible behavior accountable as it happens.
POSTED 7/19/2000
Alma, Kempner, TX, United States, <pridewks@seacove.net>, 47, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 718200054932

Africans in America need to start a national web site, so that we can find our relatives. I'm 58 and have never met my father. I was three when my parents divorced. All my life I've been aware there's another side to my family that we'll never know. Black men should never raise a gun at another black because of the way we were forcibly separated from our slave ancestors. We have relatives spread all over this Native land. White people never understand, nor should we expect them to. We don't understand, either. Also, why are we always asking if whites understand? They don't and they won't, and they don't have to. Slavery ended 135 years ago. If you read Forced Into Glory by Lerone Bennett Jr., you'll see that it hasn't ended one damn bit. The new slavery is prison. We keep falling for the hype. Why anybody would get themselves in a prison situation is beyond me. Shackles, a 7 X 5 cell, overseers, guards, beatings, deviant behavior, no birds, no trees, no green grass, no snow, etc., seems worse than death to me. Inmates are locked into these slave quarters for eternities (some of them). Why? When you get yourself into one of these quarters, slavery's alive and kicking, and maybe God will help you. He didn't help Gary Graham. Don't do the crime, and don't do the time in the Prison Slave Quarters.
POSTED 7/19/2000
H.G., Norwich, CT, United States, Black/African American, Mesg ID 719200042251

The most intelligent piece I've read on racism in the United States was by an African-American columnist whose essay appeared in a San Francisco paper's Op-Ed page in late 1995. I'm sorry I don't have his name and cannot find the article in SF newspaper archives. He wrote that a black person and a white person discussing racism is akin to a rabbit and a lion discussing a dog. Certainly they can both agree that the dog is big, mean and has sharp teeth, but the lion can never truly understand the constant threat that the rabbit feels. As a white woman who has done some ignorant, insensitive and racist things, I now keep this in mind. A little empathy never hurts, folks.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Monica F., San Francisco, CA, United States, 40, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Technician, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 721200013957

As a descendant of European Jewish immigrants, I can't trace my family back much before 1900, let alone to a ship 200 years ago. Your situation is not unique in that regard. If you feel that is the source of your (justified) rage, then I suppose I'm entitled to even more. Fortunately, I don't share your opinion. I have no hatred for the Germans (the Holocaust), the Russians (pogroms), the Germans before that (who probably drove my people into Russia), the French (who drove them into Germany), the Romans who destroyed our Temple, the Babylonians who exterminated many of our people, nor the Egyptians who our common Bible says enslaved us. I reserve my anger for things that can and need to be changed, and history is not one of them.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, <jerryschwartz@comfortable.com>, 52, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 720200051807

Sometimes I think some people don't want others to understand, whether those people do or not. There is power in oppression. I don't know lynchings, but I understand gay-bashing and 'quail hunting,' and everyone saying queers don't love, and those who do get what they deserve. I've never been called nigger, but I've been called faggot, pansy, pervert and queer, and those were the nicer ones. I have seen people fired from their jobs and kicked out of the military for being gay. I can't marry the person I love, and many churches won't allow me through the doors because they believe I am an abomination, a 'hateful thing of God.' Violence against gay people is usually targeted by appearance. An artist friend of mine was gay-bashed twice in college, but he was straight. They just decided he 'looked gay.' The 'love that dare not speak its name' has left little history to look to, because it was suppressed. In fact, being the only gay child of five makes you feel like a stranger in your own family. When I say, 'I think I have a general idea of why you are angry,' I often get the response, 'That's totally different. You can't understand because you're white.' There were some radicals in ACT UP who, I imagine, are a little disappointed today because when they protest for AIDS funding and brutal deaths like Matthew Shepard, they are met with sympathy and agreement. I think about the loss of culture, especially during St. Patrick's Day, Octoberfest, etc., and while most whites cringe at our history for killing off the natives to slavery, there is a confusion, as if the expectation is to change the past, leaving you still angry, and me feeling helpless. I encourage anger, but ask, 'So, what are you going to do about it?' I think about what we call American Culture, from jazz to blues to cinema to sports to literature, and think that if anyone deserves to lose the hyphen and proudly call themselves American, it is those who descended from slaves, created a new home and have had such an influence on the rest of us.
POSTED 7/21/2000
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <cmorris@loft.org>, 36, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7202000121144
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