Best of the Week
of July 25, 1999

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 25, 1999, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. We encourage you to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.


Question:
I'm a white student living in an ethnically mixed neighborhood in Pittsburgh (it's mostly black, with some Asian, Indian and white families). Recently I went on vacation in the West - Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah - and was absolutely amazed that the entire population was white. The only non-whites I saw - aside from Native Americans, who are prominent in many areas - were one Asian and one black family, obviously tourists (I stayed for three weeks.) My question: I know most hate groups spring up around the area I was visiting - how do these groups find followers in an area where probably no one even encounters black people or even Jewish people on a regular basis? I know that ignorance is part of the problem - but I'd like to know what other factors might be involved. Is it just political conservatism gone haywire? Why do these people feel so threatened by people who they never even meet? Most confusing to me: Why aren't Native Americans among hate groups' most prominent targets?
POSTED 7/29/1999
Annie, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 25, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7199913510

Responses:
There are really two answers to your questions. First, white supremacist groups are actually a fraction of the population anywhere, so it's easy for them to move their followers into concentration spots like Hayden Lake - only a couple hundred people at most have to move. Since they are despised by everyone, including other whites, they tend to come out here where there's a lot of empty space and they can settle in some little town they can dominate. As a result, we get white prison-sweepings and nut cases from all over the country moving to little do-it-yourself-Reichs out here. Second, we also get middle-class whites with fantasies of moving to the past - and since life is slower out here, manners are more old-fashioned, more people go to church, neighbors know each other, etc., there's something to it. But unfortunately, some people's fantasies of the past include a world where they didn't have to be aware of anyone other than white people. Usually those aren't the people who join the nut groups - but their kids, who are often bored (rural life is dull when you're 16) and looking for trouble, do. The other thing is the pure ignorance factor. White people with friends of other races will sometimes stand up to and argue with bigots - not always, but often enough to put some social pressure on bigots to keep their prejudices to themselves. Out here, most whites have no non-white friends or co-workers - and so some of these clowns can run off at the mouth more because there aren't people who know better to say "You're full of crap."
POSTED 7/30/1999
John B., Rural, CO, United States, 42, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, College professor, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7301999120616

I find it interesting that you offer political conservatism as a cause for the racism in the West. That seems to be the politically correct thing to do these days. In actuality, there is something very different happening in that area. I had a friend from Montana whom I discussed this with at some length a few years ago. He mentioned that most of the white people he knew saw Indians as a constant threat and hardly ever thought about black people. However, the opposite seems to happen here in the Northeast. Why? Out of sight, out of mind. Hate groups go into these areas where whites know little or nothing about non-whites and play on the "fear of the unknown." They push certain stereotypes until their new recruits believe what they hear. It is not unlike a religious cult, and there are undercurrents of that phenomenon. Ever notice how lots of hate groups twist the religious beliefs of people to their own ends? The KKK considers themselves to be Christians, just as the Nation of Islam considers itself to be Muslim.
POSTED 7/30/1999
John K., Cranford, NJ, United States, <the-macs@geocities.com> , 26, Male, Chemical Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7291999103436
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Question:
What does the term "agnostic" mean? Is this different than an atheist?
POSTED 7/29/1999
Janet, Sioux City, IA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 61599100852

Responses:
A+gnostic=agnostic: No knowledge. A+theist=atheist: no theism. (Theism is belief in a personified God.) So, agnostics believe knowledge of God is not possible, atheists believe God does not exist. I think I am agnostic. If God exists, he is by definition greater than me and includes me, so my beliefs about him are kind of beside the point. If he doesn't exist, again, my believing won't make Him exist. Basically though, I just feel like people start getting nasty when they get off on questions like, Does God exist? The result of this line of inquiry seems to me to usually be a lot of attitude and unpleasantness. Trying to be compassionate, patient and just pay my bills occupies most of my energy. I am not good at religion and see little good coming from it, yet I wouldn't go so far as to say God doesn't exist -I don't know! I just know people can be jerks - so I try hard not to be one if possible.
POSTED 7/30/1999
Pam R., Mishawaka, IN, United States, 46, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7291999115240

Webster's defines an agnostic as "One who disclaims any knowledge of God but does not deny the possibility of His existence." Basically, if He doesn't exist, fine. But if He does exist, that's OK, too.
POSTED 7/29/1999
Murray C., Halifax, NA, Canada, 31, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Draftsman, Technical School , Middle class,Mesg ID 7291999115937

Agnostic generally refers to one who strongly doubts the existence of God, whereas atheist is one who "knows" there is no God. Think of agnostics as needers of proof.
POSTED 7/29/1999
Jen, Rochester, FL, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Marketing, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 729199932050

An atheist does not believe there is a God or supreme being. An agnostic believes it is not possible to prove either way that there is or is not a God or supreme being, and even if you assume there is a God, God cannot be fully understood or defined. Some people might think that it qualifies as an "undecided" position, but it is stronger than that. Agnostics allow for the existence of a God, for instance, while atheists do not. It's essentially a "we don't know, so let's not assume anything" stance. Of course, different people who refer to themselves as agnostics will have different opinions.
POSTED 7/30/1999
John K., Cranford, NJ, United States, <the-macs@geocities.com> , 26, Male, Chemical Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 729199984155

The dictionary definition of an agnostic is someone who believes it is not possible for us to know whether there is a God, but the term is usually used to mean someone who does not know whether God exists, who neither believes nor disbelieves. An agnostic does not take a position, whereas an atheist believes God does not exist.
POSTED 7/30/1999
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 21, Female, Religious Studies student, Mesg ID 729199992913

Agnostics do not "strongly doubt" the existence of God or show indifference, as previous answers have suggested. Agnostics believe that nothing is or can be known of the existence of God (i.e. I have absolutely no idea.").
POSTED 7/30/1999
Tim M., Bagshot, NA, United Kingdom, 22, Male, Atheist, Straight, Over 4 Years of College M esg ID 7301999124530
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Question:
Does anyone else have this problem? I cannot urinate in urinals or in front of other men. Is this a problem only I have?
POSTED 7/29/1999
Paul, Phoenix, AZ, United States, 25, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Roofer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7179930303

Responses:
You are not alone. A lot of men have this problem. It has to do with stress. You are unable to relax the mechanism through which your urine flows. I find for myself, it is the prospect of peeing on demand that causes the problem. When it occurs, it usually involves large lines in restrooms, no privacy and a self-imposed need to conclude my business quickly. All of these factors conspire against me and as such I cannot readily pee. I have used biofeedback to relax the process, and this helps immensely. Bottom line: It usually isn't a hugh problem, just irritating.
POSTED 7/30/1999
Matthew C., New York, NY, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Engineering, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 7291999101601

I too have trouble going in a urinal with other men present in the men's room. I can't explain it, either. I told my wife about this once, and she said it was homophobia, in that we are afraid other men present are checking us out. I know damn well that the other men have no interest in what my penis looks like, but it still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I think it is just a grown-up version of "monster under my bed" syndrome. Also, have you ever noticed while in the men's room that it is always quiet, like a library? My wife says that women have no wash-room hangups. As my wife puts it, "You could be having a big, smelly, poop in one stall and have a casual conversation with a woman in the other stall who is inserting a fresh tampon." Go figure.
POSTED 7/30/1999
Murray C., Halifax, NA, Canada, 31, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Draftsman, Technical School , Middle class, Mesg ID 7291999121209

I also have that problem. Having spoken with many other male friends, I can assure you it is a perfectly normal problem I refer to as "stage fright." The best way I've found to avoid it is to either wait until there is no one in the bathroom, find an alternate bathroom or use the toilet stall.
POSTED 7/30/1999
Jeremy, N/A, WI, United States, 17, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 729199940701

This is fairly common and has nothing to do with sex or modesty. It is called "shy bladder" and even Elvis Presley couldn't urinate in view of others. Once you admit you have the problem and realize it's nothing weird, you can overcome it, most of the time by doing something mentally absorbing, like trying to think of 20 cities that begin with "M." Before you know it, the flow will start. (Be mindful of your aim while doing this!) Sometimes, though, if you're nervous or it's very crowded, it's best just to go to a toilet stall. Ninety-five percent of the time I have no problem, but if I am going to a large sporting event, for instance, I try to watch the fluid intake a few hours before.
POSTED 7/30/1999
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 38, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 729199971432

My husband has this problem also, and it is much more common than you think. It is called Paruresis, or "bashful bladder." Women can also have this. There is no need to be embarrassed, and there is a web site my husband goes to for help. http://www2.cy-net.net/richardz (International Paruresis Association). This has been a blessing for my husband and very supportive. You are NOT alone!
POSTED 7/30/1999
Jeni B., Boston, MA, United States, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 729199985458

I'm afraid I have the same problem, and generally find myself sitting down in a cubicle automatically. I assume it just goes to show how insecure we are about our size...
POSTED 7/30/1999
Tom, Egham, NA, United Kingdom, 22, Male, Atheist, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7301999125038
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Question:
To Indian-American female college students: What are some of the issues/difficulties you face in the college setting?
POSTED 7/29/1999
A. Schafer, Bowling Green, OH, United States, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7189923503

Responses:
As a second-generation Indian female who has been brought up in a sheltered, middle-class household, I have faced a lot of the same issues all other Americans face while moving away (i.e. having to adjust to a new environment, different people and different pressures). I don't really think our experiences while going to college specifically are different from those of others, but in general, as fairly new immigrants we are forced to lead a double-life. I consider myself fully Indian yet fully American at the same time, which is difficult for a lot of people to understand. Many organizations within the university exist so we can meet other people in our situation, and we revel learning more about our culture while also experiencing the all-American college life.
POSTED 7/30/1999
Priya, Berkeley, CA, United States, <priya_grewal@yahoo.com> , 19, Female, Mesg ID 729199974215
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Question:
In this country, most discussions about race focus on blacks and whites. Given that Asians outnumber both groups worldwide, I want to know what blacks and Asians think about each other. Do blacks consider Asians to be people of color? To what degree are Asians as racist toward blacks as whites often are, or as racist toward whites as blacks often are?
POSTED 7/29/1999
Jerry I., Atlanta, GA, United States, <bookjer@mindspring.com> , 56, Male, Agnostic, Straight, Voiceover, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 71999114551

Responses:
I can only respond based on my experience and observation. Asians, as any other group, are just as vulnerable to the generalizations, stereotyping and misrepresentation in media and society in general. Because generalizations, stereotypes and marginalization/misrepresentation of blacks is so rampant, there are those who believe them and buy into them rather than question their validity. It is unfortunate whenever members of these groups look upon each other with suspiscion and malice, because in reality, both suffer similar oppressions and marginalization. I would like to see more collaboration between these two groups.
POSTED 7/30/1999
Alma, Clinton, IA, United States, <mariano.elpidio@mcleodusa.net> , 46, Female, Catholic, Filipino-American, Straight, Instructor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7291999111719
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Question:
I've often wondered why many lesbians choose men's apparel in clothing to appeal to women who are not interested in men. It seems like a conundrum to me. I would think it would be the opposite: Wearing sort of ultra-feminine clothing.
POSTED 7/26/1999
Rod H., Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States, Male, Mesg ID 7251999121919

Responses:
Women in the past and certainly at present have certain "fashion" expectations put on them, by a world dominated by male designers. So a lot of women already feel "forced" when it comes to clothing. We are forced to emulate a style or fashion that is not ours and that we wouldn't necessarily choose for ourselves. Men's clothing is cheaper, made better, lasts longer and, above everything else, is far more comfortable than the majority of women's clothing. (And remember, most women make less money than most males in the United States, so buying cheaper certainly makes sense.) On a more political and psychological level, minority groups, whether they are people of color or women, will find ways to emulate or challenge the power structure - even if it is through fashion. Look at when women demanded to be able to wear pants in public - around the 1930s. Why did they have to demand the right to wear what they wanted to? Because men made the laws and expected women to know their place, which dictated among a host of things, clothing. Nowadays, some women will adopt a mannish style of dress in order not to be sexually harrassed, which makes sense, especially when women are attacked physically and men don't want to take responsibility for their actions and often cite that it was the clothing the woman was wearing that provoked them to attack. Finally, when women wear men's clothing, it is to say to the world that they do not want to be pigeon-holed and that they are not going to give in to a less-than-equitable power system. So if some men get p----d off or intimidated in the process, all they need to do is don a tight, uncomfortable dress and walk several miles in stilettos, and they, too, will understand the position their power structure has put women in.
POSTED 7/27/1999
Kim H., Minneapolis, MN, United States, <KCHines22@msn.com> , 43, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Lesbian, Actress, Playwright and Director, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 727199985707

Most lesbians wear whatever clothes we like, without much regard for what might appeal to other lesbians (let alone men). We are dressing for ourselves, not potential mates. The vast majority of lesbians wear women's clothing, whether it be ultra-feminine or just plain old jeans and t-shirt. Men's clothing tends to be cut quite a bit differently than most women are made. However, you might not recognize women so attired as being lesbians. Lesbians who prefer men's clothing may choose to wear it for several reasons. They simply like the way it looks on themselves. Some femmes prefer butch-looking women (and vice-versa). This is only part of an entire butch-femme mystique that I am not going to go into here. Men's clothes may be higher quality, less expensive, more comfortable, or cut looser for heavier women. All kinds of reasons. I am most apt to find myself looking in the men's department if I want a jacket with inside pockets (particularly ski, denim or leather jacket with multiple-inside pockets or inner ones that zip shut). I prefer pockets to purses.
POSTED 7/27/1999
DykeOnByke, Southfield, MI, United States, <DykeOnByke@aol.com> , 49, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 727199992234

I'm not a lesbian, but from observance, it would seem that many gay women are more comfortable with traditionally male fashions. I'm sure that if it were as socially acceptable for men to wear blouses and skirts as it is for women to wear masculine shirts and pants, you'd probably see a lot of gay men (perhaps even a few straight men!) dressed in women's fashions. In either case, it would seem to be a matter of personal preference and not a ploy to attract a mate.
POSTED 7/27/1999
Dan, La Salle, IL, United States, 22, Male, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 7271999102439
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Question:
Do any parents feel guilty about expecting their day care workers to help raise their children?
POSTED 7/26/1999
Bren, Detroit, MI, United States, 25, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Day Care Director, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 726199983741

Responses:
Day care is just what the name says it is: Care during the day. It's not a substitute for parenting, and I don't feel guilty that my kids spend some time there - particularly when it enables us to feed and house them. Far from guilt, I'm quite happy they're in a place where they make friends and where they're safe while we work. I don't know of any parents who think day care workers are "raising" their children, and it's presumptuous if that's what day care workers think they're doing.
POSTED 7/27/1999
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au> , 35, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 726199925327

It is not guilt as much as regret. I am divorcing and must work in order to make ends meet. My son is involved in the selecting of appropriate child care, as he will be the one going.
POSTED 7/27/1999
S. Wear, Atlanta, GA, United States, 33, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Programmer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 726199945046

I did, at first. I worried that the care people might do things with the kids that we wouldn't. I don't mean abusive things, just different role-modeling. But we eventually found a center that we were really comfortable with, and stuck with it. We had to switch a few times; that's how it is. I also was concerned at first when the kids did and said things they clearly learned at care and not at home, but I realized that that had to happen sooner or later, and it doesn't bother me. Now my youngest is 7 and it's all ancient history.
POSTED 7/27/1999
Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 40, Male, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 727199932013

I would think that most parents feel some degree of guilt over having to place their children in child care. Sure, there are examples of parents who ship their kids off to someone else so they don't have to deal with them, but that is the exception, not the rule. My wife and I are facing that decision right now. Neither one of us earns enough money to pay all of the bills on our own, so both of us have to work to get by. Also, it is not practical for either one of us to work part-time, so that option is out. The only real option that we have is daycare, which we would prefer not to do. Thankfully, we have a few good options for day care, so the comfort level is somewhat alleviated. But it's a very tough choice, and I worry over it constantly. Maybe some other options will present themselves when the time comes, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
POSTED 7/26/1999
John K., Cranford, NJ, United States, <the-macs@geocities.com> , 26, Male, Chemical Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7261999111421
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Question:
I was raised with a very idealistic view of the church, but when I began working as a church organist in my mid-teens, those ideals were shattered by some very ugly experiences in church politics. I am pursuing a career as an organist because I love the music, but my disillusionment with the church itself lingers. Is disenchantment with the church common among those who work there?
POSTED 7/26/1999
Mari, Orlando, FL, United States, 20, Female, Christian, raised Methodist, White/Caucasian, Student/organist, 2 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 725199974633

Responses:
I have been brought up in many different churches, as I have moved all around the country. I have found that people will let you down wherever you go. The truth is not in the church, it is in the God whom church is about. Look to Him first and foremost, and He will never let you down. Otherwise, your "idealistic people" will shatter your dreams. I too have seen many ugly things in church, but that is the people, and many of them get too caught up in the actual church that they forget the reason they're supposed to be there. My entire family has been turned off to church, so I guess you could say it is common. But we are not turned off to God. It just takes time to find people who actually love Him, instead of power, or money or whatever else. Don't lose heart.
POSTED 7/27/1999
Sarah, Rogers City, MI, United States, Female, Mesg ID 7271999123134
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Question:
My boyfriend wants to take me to meet his family at Passover. I don't want to accidentally offend anyone, so I need to know what to expect. What do I need to do, say, etc.? Any help would be appreciated.
POSTED 7/26/1999
T.R., San Jose, CA, United States, 17, Female, Mormon, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Less than High School Diploma , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7261999122854

Responses
If you have questions about what you see and hear, I'd feel free to ask them. I imagine his family would appreciate your interest. There's nothing special you need to say or do, other than be willing to learn about your boyfriend's family and religion.
POSTED 7/27/1999
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au> , 35, Male, Jewish, 4 Years of College , Middle class Mesg ID 726199925718

I've taken several non-Jewish boyfriends to family Sedars (that's what the Passover dinner and ceremony is called), and they've had a good time. Passover is a fun family holiday that's full of cultural and religious tradition. My guess is that unless your boyfriend's family is extremely religious and doesn't want him dating a 'shiksa' (non-Jewish girl), his family will be eager to share the day with you. Educate yourself a little about the holiday; ask your boyfriend questions, and do some surfing (start with www.judaism.com). There will probably be songs and prayers in Hebrew that you don't understand - don't worry about it. No one will expect you to know them. There will be lots of new foods too; Jews don't eat bread or other leavened things at Passover. You might be put off a little by chopped liver and gefillte fish with horseradish (but give them a try), but most people love matzoh ball soup. There will also be lots of wine (four glasses are consumed at various times during the ceremony), so if you don't drink, tell your boyfriend to let your parents know - there's usually grape juice provided for younger kids. Above all, be polite and show respect and interest by learning a little about the holiday and asking questions, and relax.
POSTED 7/26/1999
Rhiannon, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <rock0048@tc.umn.edu> , 29, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 7261999115228
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Question:
We operate an upscale portrait studio in Ohio. We did a family portrait for a black family recently. As we entered the sales room, which has several framed examples of our work, she stated "Why are there no black families on these walls?" The tone was actually hateful. I told her that we had never done a black family, but there were several black senior portraits in the front room, and in the portfolios. At this point, her husband told her to calm down. Why was this woman so hateful? We advertise for senior portraits and do any other business that comes in the front door. We have never turned anyone away.
POSTED 7/26/1999
Larry, Vandalia, OH, United States, 46, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Photographer, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7251999115812

Responses:
Though the woman may have been rather harsh in her approach, you must consider that many blacks frequently must deal with many racially oriented slaps in the face, especially in their dealings - both direct and indirect - with the larger "white" culture. While your establishment apparently didn't deserve such a scathing criticism (as evidenced by the husband's reaction), you must understand that some black people may have a tendency to develop a siege mentality when dealing with the white public. This is just a defense mechanism, and you shouldn't take it personally.
POSTED 7/27/1999
Sam, Chicago, IL, United States, <SamAlex67@aol.com> , 31, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Firefighter, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7271999122421

Sam, I find it interesting that whites are supposed to understand the black point of view, but blacks can interpret comments whites make any way they wish. I have experienced much more hostility from blacks than I ever demonstrated toward them. I agree with you. though. that it does sound as though her husband's calmer sense prevailed.
POSTED 7/29/1999
Kathy, Springfield, GA, United States, 46, Female, White/Caucasian, Administrative assistant, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7281999110139

I agree with Sam that you should not take her reaction personally. As a member of a minority group, I, too, look for representation among products out there in the market and find it frustrating when only the white majority is represented. My daughters and I went to the All American Girl Place in Chicago, and after browsing their lower, middle and upper level and not finding one single doll that accurately portrayed Asians with darker complexion, we went to the manager and ask why they thought all Asians had light complexions and why all the dolls had the same shape eyes. We would just like to be able to see ourselves in the American mirror.
POSTED 7/30/1999
Alma M., Clinton, IA, United States, <mariano.elpidio@mcleodusa.net> , 46, Female, Catholic, Filipino-american, Straight, Instructor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7291999110015
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Question:
I was browsing a Usenet group the other day and saw a posting by an African-American man who referred to young, white women as "Meagans." I have never heard an African-American man use this term to refer to a white woman (at least not in front of me). Is "Meagan" a common expression or just this one guy's term? I also got the feeling it was derogatory. Is it?
POSTED 7/26/1999
Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, 30's, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 5319974910
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Question:
Do most people think leaders of the religions of today are doing a good job helping others understand and open their hearts to other religions and people? Or are they mainly trying to show us, by all means, that there is no other truth but their own? What will happen to the world if all religions stay stuck in their own world and don't want to open up to other religions? Should they, or should they not? Will there be more ethnic cleansing, or will there be a single religion to replace all others to show the path of the soul and spirit?
POSTED 7/23/99
Sultan O., Geneva, NA, Switzerland, <sogva@iprolink.ch>, Mesg ID 7189953958
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Question:
A teacher/colleague told me that we shouldn't expect black students to sit still in class and not speak out because their culture conditions them to be aggressive and active in classroom situations. Is this true?
POSTED 7/23/99
Julie E., Lincoln, NE, United States, 31, Female, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Educator/Musician, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 72399123618

Responses:
I bet the teacher who gave you this little gem of information about black students was white. I've been dealing with students for more than 25 years. What I have observed is this: The school system reflects the values and mores of the dominate culture (white), so there is an emphasis put on control - the controling of one's emotions, actions, thoughts, etc. This particular value judgment can be quite detrimental to students who are kinetic learners. Kinetic learners come in all colors and in both genders.. Obviously your teacher friend has taken the word "kinetic" out of the equation and has replaced it with very loaded and subjective words like "aggressive," which means that any of her students whose best way of learning a subject that does not embrace sitting quietly and in control of their actions is likely to get labelled any number of things. Unfortunately, in the U.S. school system labeling starts early and follows the student all the way into their adult years. Labeling is one of the prime culprits of kids developing poor self-esteem. This is exactly how students of color get labeled and erroneously put in remedial classes, or have negative assumptions made about their intelligence. If more schools provided different styles of learning, negative assumptions about students wouldn't be so prevalent.
POSTED 7/26/1999
Kim H., Minneapolis, MN, United States, <KCHines22@msn.com> , 43, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Actress, Playwright and Director, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7251999105217

Your friend has made a sweeping generalization of "black" culture. It is true that I like to speak out in class, though considering my dad's a lecturer and my mum and her family have a tradition of public speaking, I have always been taught to speak my mind. However, I am not aggressive at all (I have always been brought up to be polite), and like to convey a certain amount of intelligence. Black culture is composed of a multitude of subcultures. These cultures are so numerous and differing that it is impossible to dictate one overall behavior for black people. I also know too many people to whom the cultural rule you have stated does not apply. For instance, my sister, who is incredibly quiet and placid.
POSTED 7/26/1999
Eli, Oxford, NA, United Kingdom, 17, Female, Atheist, Ghanian/English, Straight, Student, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 723199925021

Ridiculous. It sounds like the theory of an armchair anthropologist.
POSTED 7/26/1999
C.C., Northern New Jersey, NJ, United States, 44, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7251999124827

I went to a high school that had roughly 50 percent black students and 50 percent white students. Black students were just as capable of being attentive in class as white students. I would think the reasons for being disruptive in class are more personal than race-related.
POSTED 7/26/1999
Mark, San Francisco, CA, United States, 28, Male, White/Caucasian, Computer dude, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 723199963224

I don't know where your friend is from and who gave him/her this information, but it's erroneous. As an African American and educator, I would say this form of behavior has not been cultivated in me or others I know. As with all children, you have to set boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable classroom behavior and appropriately reinforce them. Assume nothing; everything must be taught.
POSTED 7/26/1999
Arnell, Boston, MA, United States, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Gay, Educator, 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 725199954059
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Question:
I have recently been playing soccer with Latino immigrants. We are only playing "pick-up" games, so it would seem that fun and exercise are the only real purposes of playing. We don't even keep score most of the time. I am amazed at how little sportsmanship is displayed on the field. Everyone seems to be having a great time before and after the game, but during the game they play as if it were life and death, fouling and cheating the entire time. These are not untalented players trying to make up for lack of skills. My friend from Columbia tells me there is no Spanish word for "sportsmanship." But surely the concept is not absent from Latino culture. Is this "blood sport" mentality just a logical extension of "machismo"?
POSTED 7/24/1999
Mark .D., Atlanta, GA, United States, <artigiano@aol.com> , 35, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Carpenter, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 724199955048

Responses:
The Royal Academy of the Spanish Tongue would feel insulted if they read this one. Sportsmanship in Spanish is "deportivismo." You will notice the killer attitude in sports in Latin culture just as much as you would notice it in a "friendly" football game in Kansas City (been there, done that ... got tackled to death). Now about the cheating and fouling: Dishonesty is a trait that is widespread in certain Latin American countries. Your friend from Colombia can tell you more about that one.
POSTED 7/27/1999
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 30, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian/Latino, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 727199962422
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