Best of the Week
of July 30, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 30, 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 true that everyone on the East Coast is incredibly class-conscious and elitist? Why does it seem that they so completely look down on everyone else in the country, and even the world, who did not attend private preparatory and university schools, come from a wealthy family or have access, financially and socially, to exclusive places in Europe and elsewhere on the globe? Having lived in D.C., I was appalled by the behavior I witnessed on a daily basis. What is at the root of this? Why are their lives so preoccupied with money and status? It is very disturbing to me because this is where the decisions about our country are made. It has made me believe that the perception of the government as unconcerned about the plight of the little people is not just a perception, but almost unquestionably real. It is disturbing to me not only as an American, but just as a person trying to get by in this world. It has deeply saddened me and turned me off to our political process and the nation as a whole.
POSTED 8/1/2000
Orlando P., Meridian, MS, United States, <Orlandopage@hotmail.com>, 30, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 812000110912
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Question:
Why does it seem black males 'dis' females of their own race in favor of pursuing obese, ugly white women? Black women are very beautiful. Any perceived increase in 'status' doesn't seem worth it to me.
POSTED 7/30/2000
Brian, San Francisco, CA, United States, 34, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Banking, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 728200083212

Before I give my opinion on your question, I feel compelled to qualify my answer in two ways. First, the number of black people engaging in relationships with people outside of their own ethnic background is about 5 percent. Therefore, 95 percent of black men and women prefer each other over people of other ethnic backgrounds. It may seem otherwise, but that's just because we all tend to notice more readily those things that are unusual. Second, we can't and shouldn't assume that black men who are involved with non-black women are doing so for status reasons. People fall in love with each other for lots of reasons, and none of them are apparent upon sight.
Given those disclaimers, I'll give you my theories on your question. Black men, culturally, tend to be a bit more forgiving about body size. In fact, I know quite a few black men who prefer women who are very large indeed. I don't know why, exactly, but I've seen this all my life. This could be a vestigal culture trait of our African ancestry, because as my sister, who has lived in Africa for four years, tells me, larger women are very much preferred over their thin counterparts there. Add to that the stereotype that some black men have that white women, whatever their shape, are easier to get along with than black women. Many black women, from lower socioeconomic backgrounds especially, have been used to 'taking care of business' alone, and therefore can be extremely exacting on the men in their lives, making it more apparent than is sometimes comfortable, that they don't really need the man there, and that the only reason he IS there is that they want him to be. I think all men want to feel needed. Also, from this perception of black women comes the opinion that we won't stand for a lot of behavior that white women will. Also, I wouldn't be so quick to assume that the type of black man you see with an 'unattractive' white woman is someone we black women would miss. Perhaps he's with her because none of us will have him. They might be made for each other. That's why, when I see a couple like that together, I think to myself, 'God Bless,' aside from the fact that interracial dating is not for the faint of heart.
POSTED 8/1/2000
Jennifer R., St. Paul, MN, United States, <DKFLWR@aol.com>, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Straight, Writer/Student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 81200011039
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Question:
Can someone please explain to me the so-called 'dyke-mullet' hairstyle and why it is so ubiquitous? It really frightens me. Is this just an Atlanta thing? (Reference www.mulletsgalore.com , class 1, item 9)
POSTED 6/29/2000
Scared, Decatur, GA, United States, Mesg ID 6282000101153

Responses:
OK, I went to the web site because I had no clue what you were talking about. It turned out to be a difference in terminology. Around here, people call those haircuts 'bi-level.' I have no clue why a lot more 'dykey' lesbians sport these things. Personally, I find them unattractive, as does my partner. I think it's a matter of taste. I have found that bi-levels seem to be more popular in rural areas (more redneck areas) around here, as opposed to the suburbanites and city girls. But this is not carved in stone: It was a very "in" thing in the '80s, and not just among lesbians either. But some people just do not change their style. Perhaps they find it convenient, so that they have some hair to play with but can wash and dry? I do know I've been seeing less of these, and the folks I hang out with hate them! I think it's more a fashion thing, really, to have a 'jockish' haircut that is still long in the back. Now a lot of people just either go long or go short. You certainly don't have to follow suit if you don't like the style. Don't let it scare you.
POSTED 8/1/2000
Kelly, Laurel, MD, United States, Female, Wiccan, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Librarian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 812000105404
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Question:
I hope the following question does not offend anyone: Why do African-American people make up first names like Keisha or Towanda? I know of a little girl in school named Clinique - the name of the company that manufactures my cosmetics. Often, a 'normal' name like Tonya will be prefaced with a 'La' to make it African-American suitable - i.e. 'LaTonya.' Men are much the same - Darnell, Latrell, Anfernee. I don't get it. Again, no offense intended.
POSTED 8/1/2000
Beth, Buffalo, NY, United States, 33, Female, Jewish, Mexican/Eastern European Ashkenazic, Straight, Advertising Agency Manager, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 731200042650
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Question:
All my life, I have noticed a general disregard for Kentuckians as ignorant and backward, in the media as well as from personal experience. This is very misleading and untrue. It may be the most ridiculed state in America. Why?
POSTED 8/1/2000
Sam, A smalltown, KY, United States, 21, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 731200075808
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Question:
Are black people happy that O.J. Simpson was acquitted only, I believe, because he was black?
POSTED 8/1/2000
Pat C., Jacksonville, FL, United States, 25, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 731200021020
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Question:
Why is it that most Christians see cannibalism as primitive and taboo when Christianity's most major rite is symbolic of cannibalism (communion being based on the eating of flesh and drinking of blood)?
POSTED 7/31/2000
L. Wilson, Tallahassee, FL, United States, 27, Male, spiritualist, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7260035912

Responses:
Christians who believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist (Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans, though these groups disagree over exactly what this means) are following the most literal interpretation possible of the words of Christ: 'Unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you will not have life in you.' Basically we're following orders. Keep in mind, also, that eating human flesh and drinking human blood were even more repulsive to Jews of that era than it would be to us, were such a thing possible. It took blind, naked faith, total trust, for the Apostles to stay with Jesus even though He said this, just as it takes total faith and trust for Eucharistic Christians to believe today that bread and wine truly become the Son of God. I don't understand it but I believe it. God in Christ becomes part of me, and I become part of God in Christ, when I receive Him in Holy Communion.
POSTED 8/1/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 731200074008

The flesh aspect is in remembrance of His body that was broken for us (whipped, beaten, brutalized, finally crucified) and the blood aspect is in remembrance of the blood He shed on our behalf. Certain denominations teach that when the elements are taken in they transfigure into Christ's actual flesh and blood, but most people take that as far too literal an interpretation (and one that overlooks what else the Word says). Communion is commemoration, not a rite of cannibalism.
POSTED 8/1/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7312000105536
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Question:
What on earth are prison guards doing while prisoners are being attacked, raped, forming gangs, etc. in the facility? Why can this not be prevented? Prisoners are there to suffer the penalty of loss of freedom, not to undergo physical harm. Are there too few guards, or is it that they just don't care?
POSTED 7/31/2000
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Mesg ID 72700113046

Responses:
In most prisons, in fact all but high-security federal institutions (except for Marion and Leavenworth, etc.), prisoners outnumber the guards 10 to 1. Guards are NOT, as some would have you think, armed with nightsticks, while most prisoners have shanks, clubs, brass knuckles, pipes, etc. Not to mention that prison guards don't get paid enough to intervene during every situation. After a while, they are bent on survival - just like prisoners.
POSTED 8/1/2000
Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, 20, Male, Mesg ID 731200050532

Being a prison guard isn't that great a job. They don't get paid very well, they work long hours and they are under extremely stressful conditions. Usually they're not all that willing to stick their necks out to protect criminals from other criminals. And after they've been on the job for a while, many shed any idealism they may have had and become bitter and cynical. That's why they won't stop rapes or anything like that. Also, in more extreme cases, the guards are corrupt and collaborate with prison gangs in the drug trade and other operations. Sometimes, such as in the case of Corcoran State Penitentiary, the proverbial old boy network demands an ongoing show of cruelty and a gang mentality. Many an ex-con has told me that the guards are meaner than the inmates.
POSTED 8/1/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class,Mesg ID 7312000110025

My friends who have done time say it is often some of the guards themselves who instigate much of the violence. They deliberately set up these 'gladiator fights,' as they call them, to break the will of new prisoners, to set up prisoners they believe to be 'troublemakers,' to get at prisoners who were convicted of certain crimes such as child molesting, or just for their own entertainment. Some of the guards are also just plain crooked and paid by the prison gangs to look the other way. Of course no one does anything about this because some would complain that to do so would be 'getting soft on crime'. Most people just plain don't care about people in prison except to give them even more time. Believe me, there is no shortage of guards. Look at how much money is being spent on prisons and prison building. Not every last guard is corrupt or brutal of course. But just like police on the outside, the good cover up for the bad out of a misguided 'code of silence'. I'm certainly not letting the gangs off the hook for everything they do. But all the violence and drugs in prisons would be far less without the tacit consent or even eagerness of some of the worser guards to take part in it. It also will continue as long as most people on the ouside have a simple-minded 'just lock 'em up and throw away the key' attitude.
POSTED 8/1/2000
A.C.C., W. Lafayette, IN, United States, Mesg ID 731200052214
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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

Responses:
The Southern ports of Houston, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Savannah and Tampa account for well over 50 percent of the marine container imports and exports in the United States. Container shipment drives the trucking market, so having Southern bases of operations for the long haul trucking industry is an advantage.
POSTED 7/31/2000
Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 44, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Cubicle Guy, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 728200015529
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