Best of the Week
of Aug. 11, 2002

 

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Aug. 11, 2002, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s database using the search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the 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:

Why do women take so long in the shower? Every woman I have known, without exception, has taken forever in the shower, whereas we men can get in and out of the shower in five minutes. I don't see what takes so long.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Marcel S., Paris, NA, France, 27, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, N/A, High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 812200264833

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Question:

 An African-American friend of mine told me white people have funerals so soon after someone dies (three days or so) because they start to turn a dark color after embalming. She said African-American families wait longer. Does anyone know if this is true? Do we turn a different color?
POSTED 8/14/2002
Jennifer H., Montgomery, AL, United States, 30, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Therapist, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 813200211441

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Question:

I know I'll probably get shot down for this, but why do Jews have such a bad rapport with black people? My grandmother lives on Eastern Parkway in New York, which is predominantly West Indian and Jewish. There is a strict division between the Jews and West Indians when you get to a certain street. Whenever I have come in contact with a Jewish person, he or she always seems hostile or doesn't want to look at me or be in the same space with me. Maybe it's just me, but I never see a Hasidic Jew and a black person walking down the street together having a normal conversation. Is it against their faith to even be seen with a black person? I'm just asking so I can learn about a group of people I really don't know a lot about, so I hope I haven't offended anyone.
POSTED 9/13/2001
B.J., Brooklyn, NY, United States, 18, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 912200143137


Responses:
If I were going to pose a question on this site, it would probably be a very similar one. I'm a Jew, and for the life of me, I can't understand the Black/Jewish animosity thing. The majority of American Jews were still in Europe, being slaughtered in the Pogroms, when the United States was involved in the enslavement of Africans. Today, both groups are still marginalized in the United States. I once heard a black stand-up comic talking about the same question. His comment was that he couldn't understand why we didn't get along, especially because we're the two ethnic groups whose hair 'fros naturally. I liked that a lot.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Hope, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 31, Female, Jewish, Bisexual, film worker, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 712002124635


Jews don't hate black people. Hasidic Jews tend to be an insular group. You wouldn't really see a Hasidic Jew walking down the street with a white Christian, or even a non-Hasidic Jew. They have very strong beliefs about religion and adhere to them strictly. This is reflected in every aspect of their lives: how they dress, what they eat, what they read, how they behave, etc. So you will generally see them with other people who share their beliefs and practices.
POSTED 8/14/2002
J.Z., Forest Hills, NY, United States, 31, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 8122002120715


Several answers:
1) Like other whites in America, Jews fear blacks because of the violent crime statistics. I live in St. Louis, which has lots of black crime in the city.
2) I think there's also the feeling that while both groups have been oppressed, the Jews have managed to make incredible accomplishments, especially in medicine, science & literature and the arts - way out of proportion to their percentages in the population. In other words, the Jewish response to oppression is overachievement. By contrast, some blacks seem to use their history of oppression as an excuse for lack of accomplishment. There have been notable blacks like George Washington Carver, but the most famous blacks seem to be those who've achieved in sports, which seems to accrue more benefit to the individual than to society.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Rachel Z., St. Louis, MO, United States, 52, Female, Jewish, writer, Middle class, Mesg ID 342002122426


I don't know anything about the history of that particular neighborhood or why there is that division. But I can tell you that my observation is that not only do most Jews not hate black people, we tend to identify with them to some extent. It was not very long before the civil rights movement in the '60s that there was still rampant state-supported discrimination against Jews in this country (e.g. quotas for the maximum number of Jews admitted into colleges, clubs barring Jews from membership, etc.). And I have no doubt that there would always have been more obvious ugliness toward Jews if it were always as readily apparent that a person is Jewish as it is that a black person is black. I think that's probably the reason so many Jewish people came out in support of the black civil rights movement. I can tell you that as a young child, probably around 1960 or so, I had an exchange with my Jewish mother that made a strong and lasting impression on me. At the time, the preferred term among African Americans was still Negro. I was probably four or five years old, living in an ethnically mixed but all-white neighborhood, out playing with some non-Jewish friends. A black man drove past, and one of my friends said something about him being a 'nigger.' I corrected her and said the word was 'Negro' - my innocent mind thinking that we were merely disagreeing on pronunciation. They insisted I was wrong. When I got home, I said to my mother, 'Mom, Mary said the word is 'nigger,' not 'Negro.' My mother stopped dead in her tracks in absolute horror, stooped down to my eye level, took me by the shoulders and explained very emphatically that I was NEVER to use that word, and she somehow explained in a way my young mind could understand that it was a word people used to hurt black people's feelings, and that I must never, ever use it. I understood that she was telling me something really important, and I've always been grateful to her for that early lesson. Anyway, my point is that many Jewish people not only have nothing against black people, but feel a certain bond with them based on similar backgrounds of oppression. You've raised an interesting question, though, because I've often gotten the impression that a lot of black people hate Jewish people. I hope I'm wrong, too. Black people and Jewish people hating one another would be sort of a dream come true for the KKK, don't you think?
POSTED 8/14/2002
Barb, Reading, PA, United States, 46, Female, Jewish, Mesg ID 172002113618


Actually, since Judaism is a religion, there are black Jews. In fact, there was a whole group of people in Ethiopia called the Falashas who were Jews from the time of King Solomon. When they were in danger of starving during the famine several years ago, Israel arranged to airlift them to Israel and resettle them there. I am afraid the problems in Brooklyn have more to do with perceived injustices than anything else. Perhaps the Jews feel that the blacks receive preferential treatment by the police, the city or state, and vice-versa. I had heard of some programs underway to help both sides meet and talk to dispel any myths or problems.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Leslie, Jefferson, LA, United States, 47, Female, Jewish, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID


I don't know too much of the historical specifics, but I know there has been much tension between African Americans and Jewish Americans in the past 50 years. It was kind of shocking for me to realize this, because as a Jew, I have always identified with African Americans and their struggles. When I was a child, my parents gave me books about slavery and civil rights, and books about the Holocaust and Anne Frank, and I always thought I was reading about the same thing. I don't want to sound ridiculously idealistic, as I do understand there are great differences in our cultures and struggles, but I've always felt that Jews and blacks have quite a bit in common -- we're more expressive, emotional and blunt than your average Protestant American, and we understand oppression in similar ways. I like black people, and I'm sorry I currently live in such a white state. B.J., I am sad to hear that you've had such negative experiences with Jews.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Rhiannon, Eden Prairie, NJ, United States, <hyena@visi.com>, 31, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 9152001122552


You are talking about Eastern Parkway. Jews there are fanatics, and being pretty religious myself I have no qualms about saying that. They are crazy. Forget about African Americans, they wouldn't even communicate with me even though I am Jewish, just because I am not Orthodox Hassidic. They wouldn't even consider me Jewish. The less religious ones, on the other hand, have no problems with any ethnicity, race or culture. I have many African-American, Latino, Middle Eastern, etc. friends, and all I really care about is how good our friendship is instead of what they are or what they believe or don't believe in.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Leah, Brooklyn, NY, United States, <kisunya@aol.com>, 21, Female, Jewish, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 226200291447


I'm a conservative Jew and don't have anything against any other culture or people. I believe it is hypocritical to be racist, simply because Jewish people have been discriminated against, too. However, Hasidic Jews have a very distinct culture. I think you will find that while they might avoid black people, they also will probably have nothing to do with ANYONE who is not Jewish. I'm not saying they hate or are discriminatory toward them, but they don't relate much. Hasidic Jews are extremely devout and generally only associate with other Jews on a regular basis. There are exceptions, of course, but they probably don't associate so much with other people because they don't have anything to say to them. To Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, their religion is their way of life, not simply what they believe in. This can be said for any religion or culture, but Jews are very recognizable because of the curls and hats and beards and kipas, etc.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Lindsay, Warwick, RI, United States, 16, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Upper class, Mesg ID 2272002105148

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Question:

Once a year we visit my brother and his family. Invariably we spend a day at the beach. My brother is endowed in a manner that would send a mare off and running. He's only five feet two inches tall, which only makes it look larger. Yet his preferred beachwear is Speedos. His wife thinks it's cute. But damnit, it looks like he shoplifted a chicken. My wife just (privately) says "My God!" People stare and whisper. I have a hard time walking down the beach with him. Would I be out of line if I asked him to maybe wear one of those knee-length swimsuits?
POSTED 8/14/2002
Wally L., Brookville, IN, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, brick layer, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 8122002122644

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Question:

I am a black female living in an area where mixed unions are common. However, it seems that most of these are Asian women with white men. I admit that the incidence of black female/white male couplings is higher here than any other place I've lived. But is it my imagination that when white men go outside their cultural group, it is more common, or easier, or more preferred, for them to be with Asians than blacks?
POSTED 8/14/2002
Teri, Reston, VA, United States, 31, Female, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 813200271219


Responses:
You are right. In most interracial marriages involving white men and non-white women, the women generally tend to be Asian or Hispanic, and only rarely black. But white women who date outside their race prefer dating black men over Asians. I do not know why, but the media could be extremely responsible. The media has an enormous influence on people, more than governments do. Most of the time, the media tends to portray Asian women as submissive, while black women are potrayed as unfeminine and unwanted. In the case of men, black men are shown as more masculine, while Asian men are portrayed as unmanly. Indeed, according to statistics on interracial marriages, Asian/white marriages consist nearly 80 percent of a white husband, while in case of black/white marriages, 80 percent consist of a black husband. But you are not alone. I have seen this several times. But I have yet to see an Asian man/black woman couple.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Jerry, Denver, NA, United States, 42, Male, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, doctor, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 8142002101911

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Question:

In my experience, surfing doesn't appear to be popular among African Americans, even in hot surf spots like California. Why might that be?
POSTED 8/7/2002
Lee H., New York, NY, United States, Mesg ID 87200280939


Responses:
Bottom line: the majority of us feel surfing is a white people sport, lots of us don't like water, and for most of us, living life as a black person is adventure enough!
POSTED 8/14/2002
Jamara, Anchorage, AK, United States, <jaamgirl@yahoo.com>, 27, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, housewife, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 813200263157


I'd have to disagree, Jamara. If that is how you feel, that's perfectly all right, but I don't think you can speak for the 'majority of us.' As an African American, I am very interested in learning how to surf. If I ever move to a coastal state, that would be one of the first things I'd learn. Your blanket statements about black people sound no better coming from you, a black woman, than they do coming from a white person posing a stereotypical question here at Y? Forum.
POSTED 8/14/2002
Sophia, Chicago, IL, United States, 28, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 814200281823

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