Best of the Week
of Aug. 16, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Aug. 16, 1998, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, 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.


THE QUESTION:
R428: To U.S. immigrants, especially Mexicans: What prompted you to leave your home country in the first place? Can you describe your situation or the circumstances of that country?
POSTED AUG. 12, 1998
Mike, white male, Oxnard, CA
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THE QUESTION:
RE64: I am aware that there has long been hatred of Jews, but I have never understood why. What is it about Jews that has caused this history of hatred?
POSTED JUNE 13, 1998
Ray K., RayK50plus@aol.com, Ramona, CA

ANSWER 1:
Some of the reasons are irrational, some contradictory, some absurd and some dishonest, and a few have some small basis in reality. Let's start with ancient, pre-Christian times. The Jews alone, among all peoples in the world, held that there is only one God. This was an affront to all other nations. Though pagan nations had different names for their gods, they all believed in pretty much the same gods, and respected each other's gods. Jews, however, proclaimed the pagan gods did not exist. This made them unpopular in the ancient world.

Things got worse for the Jews during the Christian era - though Jesus was a Jew, and so were all the earliest Christians, by 70 AD, most Christians were Gentiles, and increasingly, they perceived Jews who did not embrace Christianity as "stiff-necked" people who rejected Jesus. Over time, these Gentile Christians began to blame the Jews, rather than the Romans, for the crucifixion of Christ (this is often called "the blood libel" by Jews).

In medieval Europe, Jews were often denied the right to own land and were often forced by law to live in "ghettos" isolated from Christians. This isolation spawned new anti-Semitism in two ways: First, because Jews were not allowed to own land, they often turned to other trades, including trades Christians were not allowed to pursue - like money lending. The notion that Jews are moneygrubbers arose during medieval times, when most leading moneylenders were Jews. Second, Jews have always been greatly concerned with hygiene. The Jewish ghettos were kept quite clean, which meant Jews did not have the same problems with rats and lice that Christians did. That meant Jews did not suffer from the Black Plague. When Christians saw that Jews were not dying from the Black Plague, they began to think Jews were in league with Satan.
POSTED JUNE 25, 1998
Astorian <
Astorian@aol.com>, Austin, TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
Another reason may be that the Jewish people have a strict code of behavior dictated by the Torah. The Torah has served the Jews well for 5,000 years, and they are not willing to bend to current thought. They are unchanging and have existed successfully in almost every nation on earth by following the precepts found in the Torah. I believe this makes many people distrustful of Jewish people because they will not accept other beliefs as their own.
POSTED AUG. 21, 1998
Roy M., 58 <
roym@umd5.umd.edu>, Baltimore, MD
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THE QUESTION:
GE66: Why do many of the same women who battle sexual harassment seem so willing to forgive President Clinton for his actions and subsequent "misleading" of his family? Would they feel the same if he were a Republican?
POSTED AUG. 20, 1998
Dan, 34, voted for Clinton twice, Charlottesville, VA
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THE QUESTION:
R353: Second- and third-generation Americans from Asia, Mexico, Europe and other regions generally speak American English very well. They have no national accent and no differing word pronunciations. Why is it that many African Americans seem unable to speak American English?
POSTED JUNE 23, 1998
Susan, 34, white female, 34, Salem, OR

ANSWER 1:
I am able to speak "American" English just fine. I think there has been a major problem in all of these questions and many of the answers concerning black English. Many of the people who respond do not realize they are coming from a certain background. What you need to realize first is that language is the most important part of a culture. When people talk about "Standard" or "American" English being "proper," they are making dangerous cultural assumptions that all things from European origin (including "Standard" English) are right and the pure form, and all others are wrong. Black English has different origins. Black English was actually used as a medium to unite all West African languages so that people of different African communities could communicate with each other during the periods of slavery. Over time, black English was the only thing Africans could pass down to future generations to let descendants know about Africa, as they were not allowed to know anything of their African past. Whether other African Americans who speak this form of English know it or not, they are keeping their African past alive. Other third- and fourth- generation Americans may have other means to pass down their culture without the use of language. Since this is the only thing African Americans have, this is probably the reason they still speak this form of English.
POSTED JULY 1, 1998
Kara, African American, Japan <
micheka@rocketmail.com>

FURTHER NOTICE:
Are you sure African Americans are "unable" to speak American English"? I am able to speak American English, but around certain black friends/family members I speak differently. If you are genuinely interested,do a little research on black English - you'll find it interesting. But have you ever wondered why Southern whites speak their own form of American English? Ever wonder about Cajuns, Bostonians, New Yorkers?
POSTED JULY 18, 1998
Jon, 36, black <
jgeeter@staffsolution.com>, San Francisco, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
There are many reasons, not the least of which is to communicate with one another. In the black community, there is a lot of pressure to "keep it real" or "stay black." Being that proper English is most often associated with white America, many blacks fear they would appear to be "selling out"or "acting white" if they do not use black English. Notions that this was a way to unify different enslaved African peoples make no more sense than if we said standard English or Spanish or Chinese were used for the same purpose. It really has its roots in the South, and in ignorance of the way the language should be spoken. It is perpetuated by those who speak it out of ignorance, fear, a misplaced sense of pride, television shows and commercials that show black people communicating in this manner, and educators who believe it should be taught or encouraged.
POSTED AUG. 5, 1998
Steve H., 39, black, Foster City, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
To Kara: English, by definition, is the language of England and its people. It is not any more "dangerous" to assume that the European form of English is correct than it is dangerous to assume that the Japanese people should be the ones to decide how the Japanese language should be properly pronounced. American English is only a dialect of real English, and every region and most cultural groups have their own sub-dialects. These don't become "proper English" just because other people in the area or group understand them. In Wisconsin, you can hear people talk like this: "Oh for cry-yi, meet me at da bubbler at tree-turdy, if youse guys godda come wit. Buttcha kin betcha yrr bein a royal pain in the dupa . Yah, hey! Howsabout dem Packers, hey? Rr ya comin' ta da booyah?" All of us here understand it, and it reflects our history and culture. It was a way for all those German, Polish, Belgian, etc. settlers to understand each other, as they also had no common language. But it definitely is not "proper English."
POSTED AUG. 14, 1998
Colette, <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Language is regional and is learned. While second- and third-generation people may master "standard" English, in most urban areas, they will also master the colloquials. It's a matter of survival. If you visit a school in any urban area, i.e. South Central Los Angeles, while the demographics have changed from 70 percent black to 70 percent Latino, the slang terms used by the students - black and Latino alike - are the same. The intonations of the vowels are also the same. You may think you are listening to a black student, and when you turn around you may see a Latino kid. Also, the assimilation process for Latino people is a lot more attainable than it is for African Americans. Latinos are perceived as less threatening than African Americans. Do not be mistaken. African Americans can speak "standard" English, but when among each other, there are certain words and phrases used to add feeling and emotion to the conversation.
POSTED AUG. 21, 1998
Lydia, multi-racial <
ethnikblend@hotmail.com>, Los Angeles, CA
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THE QUESTION:
GE41: Why do women spend so much time, energy and money on their appearances, but then become upset when a man stares at them? And do women really become upset at this, or are they just pretending?
POSTED JUNE 15, 1998
John, 27, Riverside, CA

ANSWER 1:
I like to dress up and look nice because it makes me feel good. I'm not dressing up for men, I'm dressing up for myself. I'm not asking to be stared at. Besides, staring is just plain rude. There are more discreet ways of appreciating someone's beauty.
POSTED JUNE 16, 1999
T.H., 23, female, East Lansing, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
Staring is OK if it is brief and is stopped when I see someone staring. It is an ego-booster but not if in excess. Women dress nice and wear makeup to be noticed, and a whistle or stare is ego-boosting. I just smile back to say thank you for noticing me, I tried to look nice and you noticed me!
POSTED AUG. 5, 1998
Kathy, 40 <
mcslo1@juno.com>, Lancaster, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
There is a difference between an appreciative look given to note your attractiveness and rude staring. I don't mind it one bit when I get a second look when I am dressed up, but I do not appreciate men who stare until I am uncomfortable. Often they continue to stare, even after they note my discomfort. I also do not appreciate comments that have been made to me and about me while walking down a street. I do not dress provocatively in any way, but I still receive undesirable attention for simply looking beautiful.
POSTED AUG. 21, 1998
M.F., 21, female, Dallas, TX
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THE QUESTION:
C3: I have heard single friends and acquaintances (basically white-collar, middle-class people) say they would prefer not to date blue-collar, working-class people; that numerous differences in values and goals are just too difficult to overcome to try to make such a relationship successful. Moreover, an invisible boundary line seems to separate union workers from salaried employees, even if earning similar incomes. How common and valid is this attitude? I would like to hear from others about their experiences - good or bad - with dating or maintaining romantic relationships with people from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
POSTED MAY 6, 1998
DykeOnByke, engineer <
DykeOnByke@aol.com>, Southfield, MI

ANSWER 1:
I was raised in a white-collar, middle-class family, but despite their expectations and my own, I was always more attracted to men who worked with their hands. I am now happily married to a blue-collar man, and we each value the very different strengths the other brings to our partnership. My female friends who are married to white-collar men almost universally envy me: My husband never stays late at the office; he flawlessly repairs and maintains our house, yard and car; and most important, he's never too busy or too distracted to spend time with me. Having tried it both ways, I wouldn't trade him for all the C.P.A.s in the world.
POSTED MAY 9, 1998
A. Morgan, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
The stereotype is that white-collar workers are greedy and self-serving and that blue-collar workers are hard workers with no formal education. Neither is true; I certainly consider going to school for five years as hard work as some of the things blue-collar workers do.
POSTED MAY 9, 1998
Rob, white <
innvertigo@aol.com>, Southfield, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I don't see why your friends need to put people into classes. We are all human; when two people fall in love, the color of the collar will not matter.
POSTED MAY 11, 1998
Darryll <
dbrock6119@aol.com>, Hagerstown, MD

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
To A. Morgan: I have tried it both ways, having been a union factory worker for 14 years, then quitting after graduating from college and now working in a corporate headquarters. I think there is a definite line separating white-collar and blue-collar workers and their attitudes, as the original question asks. I find that my union acquaintances are obsessed with money, to a degree that the white-collar world could never approach. The unionists are never home, because they work seven days a week, often 12 a hours a day. You can't make plans with them, because the overtime schedule rules their life. White-collar workers don't understand the overtime thing, but then again, unionists don't grasp the cause-and-effect relationship between working longer hours and getting raises and promotions. Union workers are given raises, white-collar people earn them. Quite a different viewpoint on the world. I'm not suggesting relationships between the two types are doomed, but the differences can and do cause friction that has to be dealt with.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
B.B., 38, M.B.A., Temperance, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
My first husband was from a more financially "successful" family than mine. He wanted to go to law school and even had a vacation home in the mountains. His father was a judge. After three years, he said he was not ready for this kind of commitment and walked out. I'm a college-educated lady with a master's degree, from a family in which all three children have gone to college, but of my parents, only my father has a degree, so I was probably predisposed to marry a college man - a fraternity man even - and appreciate the package he came with: Good white-collar job, money, etc. However, he also came with an overwhelming credit card debt, a habit of letting his parents pick up the tab and an inability to recognize the good in me or himself.

After the divorce, I dated various men - oddly, most had no college education - and finally married (happily for three years) a man with no advanced education who is smart and witty and who reads everything he can find. He is not in a trade, but manages a warehouse, so the idea that he is even remotely qualified to operate a power tool or fix a car is laughable, and he will be the first to agree. He is kind, generous, loving, honest and terribly funny - he is also not in debt or attached to his mother's apron strings and is very comfortable with his lot. My parents love him because he makes me happy and because he values me. His parents thought I was an oddity because no one in their family had ever been to college, but when they found out I can shell peas, I was accepted.

Most people marry people from a similar background or who have shared experiences such as college, hobbies or church; or shared friends or professions. No matter where you find initial attraction, lasting love is based more on the individuals involved and their baggage and their ability to recognize joy and goodness and to love than on white-collar vs. blue-collar issues.
POSTED MAY 27, 1998
Sheila, 27, white, Tallahassee, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
There needs to be an adjustment made to our "blue- and white-collar" mentality. Bottom line: The more time in the office, at the construction site or at any work place, the less time with the loved ones. What are the person's priorities?
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
Jim P., Diegoman@AOL.com, San Diego, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I am a white collar worker who is married to a truck driver. My family was blue collar, and most of my friends are working-class people. What I notice the most is that goals are not the same in the two groups. Middle class blue collar folks seem to want to acquire things, TVs, stereos, boats, cars etc., and have a "live for today" attitude. White collar people also have a desire for things, but usually go for houses and bigger-ticket items. They have longer-term goals and want to retire earlier than blue collar folks. This basic difference in the style of how they live their lives causes friction. Neither way of living your life is bad; actually, a blend of both in moderation would be great, but each type wants to think their way is the best. I think the biggest difference is that many more blue collar type people live their lives with fewer dreams than their white collar counterparts. Privilege does bring a sense that you can accomplish anything, and working at jobs where you use your hands instead of your mind (blue collar) does limit the scope of your dreams. So a relationship with different goals and levels of hope for the future is difficult.
POSTED AUG. 21, 1998
S. Finch, 37, white female <
SFinch4u@aol.com>, Ft. Worth, TX
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THE QUESTION:
R412: I wonder: Are black Americans jealous of gay Americans because they are making such strides toward equal protection under the law?
POSTED AUG. 11, 1998
Alma J., African American <
pridewks@centraltx.net>, Kempner, TX

ANSWER 1:
A number of black Americans are offended by gay rights activists who equate the gay rights movement with the civil rights movement. In the eyes of many blacks, that isn't an apt comparison, because there is/was no closet for a member of a visible racial minority to retreat to. The thinking is that the that racial discrimination differs from homosexual discrimination in that the latter is based on certain types of behavior that many people believe to be immoral. And being that most black people either believe in conservative Christianity or were at least exposed to it in their youth, it is not surprising many might not be quick so draw a parallel between the two movements.
POSTED AUG. 18, 1998
Jay B., 38, black male, <
jayboyd@ameritech.net>, Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
Although systematic, institutional and pervasive racism still maintains white hegemony in virtually all aspects of American life, it has been many years since African Americans have been denied the range of civil rights still denied gay, lesbian and bisexual people. So queer-folk are still fighting for fundamental rights that (at least on paper) black people - at least black heterosexuals - enjoy. My concern is that the myth of "special rights" for gay people, in my opinion, is being steadily promoted to the African-American community by political interest groups that want to incite hostility between the two communities.
POSTED AUG. 18, 1998
Max H., semi-white gay male, Oakland, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I do not think black people are jealous of advances the gay community is making. I do think the majority of them resent the parallels drawn between the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement. It is a fact that the majority of black people are extremely homophobic - it stems from the fact that this majority was either raised with a Christian or Islamic background and thus were taught homosexuality was sinful and disgusting. With that idea firmly entrenched into our psyches from childhood, it's no wonder black people want no parallels drawn, even though they exist. We forget that only 80 or so years ago, we were considered just as immoral and disgusting by the dominant culture as gays are now. In truth, the gay rights movement has a tremendous way to go and really has not advanced past the civil rights movement, though it is true it has benefited tremendously from the precedents set. So have many other groups, but since they are not persecuted on moral grounds, they are not resented as much.
POSTED AUG. 20, 1998
Andee B., 20, black female <
abrowne@sophia.smith.edu>, Northampton, MA
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THE QUESTION:
D21: To deaf people: When someone noiselessly sneaks up on me and does so little as to tap me on the shoulder, it's alarming. I imagine that if I lost my hearing, that sort of sudden fright would happen regularly. Or does it? Is it alarming to be suddenly tapped on the shoulder if you're deaf?
POSTED AUG. 14, 1998
A.S., 34 <
abalone@zerodefect.net>, Philadelphia, PA

ANSWER 1:
I became deaf when I was 21. I tend to startle very easily when people catch me unaware, especially if I am busy with something or concentrating. My wife, who has been deaf from an early age, and my son, deaf from an early age, do not seem to startle as often or as severely as me. But yes, it probably happens more often than for hearing people. That is also one reason deaf people try not to "sneak" up on each other. I teach and ask students to flash the office light before coming in to avoid this startle tendency. No, the flashing light does not usually startle, because it is a customary warning.
POSTED AUG. 18, 1998
J.D. Weber, 49 <
y8d2k8wl@coastalnet.com>, Wilson, NC
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THE QUESTION:
RE86: Every time I see a woman in traditional Islamic dress, I wonder why female genital circumcision is practiced in some cultures. What purpose could it serve? Do many Muslim sects condone this practice? What do Muslims in America think of it?
POSTED AUG. 6, 1998
Jonathan A. <
jdames@intrex.net>, Raleigh, NC

ANSWER 1:
It seems to me that the ideas that lie behind genital mutilation are not very different from American ideas about circumcision. Certainly, the degree of mutilation is far more severe and life threatening, but the ideas behind some of it, at least in the Sudan, are concepts of purity, what is desirable and pleasing to the husband and what is deemed appropriate for marriage. Women who do not go through this ordeal in many areas are generally not desired for marriage. This is often seen as unacceptable. I think the main reason for the practice is to enhance the man's pleasure. The removal of the clitoris, inner and outer labia and stitching up of the vagina desensitize the woman and make it tighter for the man. We have similar ideas behind our practice of male circumcision (health), the stitching up of the vagina (men's pleasure) and the removal of the clitoral hood (women's pleasure). Pharonic circumcision (the removal of the two sides of the vulva), though, is a much more dangerous practice, causing life-threatening circumstances at times of menstruation, urination, intercourse and pregnancy. As for people who come to the Units States, many retain their cultural values and continue to practice it. Like the issue of the veil, women are often the staunchest supporters of the practice.
POSTED AUG. 18, 1998
Jaimie W., 23, female, anthropology major, Jacksonville, FL
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THE QUESTION:
RE1: What role, if any, do women play in Tibetan Buddhism?
POSTED JAN. 25, 1998
Lana R., Jacksonville, FL

ANSWER 1:
Contrary to most Western belief, women do play a role in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. There are several highly respected female teachers believed to be the embodiment of Tara, the female aspect of Compassion. In the Buddhist faith, there is actually no discernment between the male and female mind, since we are comprised of both aspects equally. Many other women have become enlightened beings by being married to learned teachers. In the Tibetan tradition, lamas may marry and become householders if they choose; they then continue with their teachings, especially to their immediate family. You will find that there are several highly repected Western women who have been initiated into traditional Tibetan practice and have become leading teachers in their own right.
POSTED AUG. 18, 1998
G. Eldridge <
Hauteman@AOL.com>, NJ
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THE QUESTION:
R420: I have worked in several hospitals in areas with large Filipino populations. I have noted that many of the women bring lots of food and love to share with all the other Filipino staff on the floor, and will often included me. If this food sharing a cultural thing?
POSTED AUG. 14, 1998
Darci, 31<
darlink@hotmail.com>, San Diego, CA

ANSWER 1:
Food is absolutely one of the most important parts of Filipino culture. My mom, who grew up in the Philippines, explained to me that in the Philippines, it's almost rude not to offer food to guests, even if just a piece of fruit. The Philippines is a poor country, and the most that many hosts can offer is food, as opposed to air-conditioning or more expensive items to entertain with. Also, Filipinos are very family- and friends-oriented - much, much more than Americans - so gatherings are a lot more common among Filipino groups. We'll find any reason to celebrate and enjoy good Filipino food!
POSTED AUG. 17, 1998
S. Guthrie, Filipino <
sguthrie@gateway.net>, USA
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THE QUESTION:
GE64: If a girl or woman has a lot of arm hair, is it considered very unattractive? How do people generally feel about female arm hair when it is very visible?
POSTED AUG. 17, 1998
H. Smyth, 16, female <
WhtStar2@aol.com>, Seattle, WA

ANSWER 1:
I've never quite understood why women bothered to shave any body hair. Certainly the standards of beauty perpetrated by the manufacturers of beauty products and cosmetics encourage the idea that hair is unattractive, but I couldn't be bothered to wear a wig just because I'm bald.
POSTED AUG. 18, 1998
Al, 58, male, <
alarose@ncwc.edu>, Rocky Mount, NC
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THE QUESTION:
G25: After living in Japan for two years, I've found that "gaijin," or foreigners, are treated differently than Japanese people. We're looked at, talked to and watched differently than Japanese people. I would like to know if people of other races who live in North America feel this same pressure or sense of "difference."
POSTED AUG. 10, 1998
Trevor C., 17, white male <
trevorc@gol.com>, Kobe, Japan

ANSWER 1:
I am a Japanese national who has lived in the United States, Italy and Thailand for more than 10 years. The feelings of "difference" vary from country to county and where you are from, in my opinion. In the United States, the reaction was quite natural, except for insufficient linguistical capabilities, and I didn't feel I was treated in special ways. Americans are used to people of different races as well as people from other counties. Is was also true in the United Kingdom from my rather short experience there. In Italy, the situation was a little different. All Asians are considered "Chinese" and in some ways treated as "these poor illegal immigrant people" regardless where they are really from. They actually don't know much about other counties. Meanwhile, they tend to treat other whites as equals. In Thailand, the Japanese (and Westerners) are in some ways looked up to as "people from developed countries." We are curiously looked at and talked about.

The Japanese treat "gaijins" in a manner similar to the latter example. Western society and people still symbolize the Japanese ideal in terms of culture and beauty. They are curious. They are afraid of the unknown (most Japanese still don't have direct contact with foreigners or think they are unable to communicate well enough with them). I think that is why you feel treated in a different way. However, this does not necessarily mean the Japanese are innocent when it comes to racism. Japanese people will treat immigrants from other counties differently than they treat Americans - again, as "these poor illegal immigrant people."
POSTED AUG. 17, 1998
Masaki N. <
ssde@ptty.loxinfo.co.th>, Bangkok, Thailand
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THE QUESTION:
R405: Why do black people have high blood pressure problems more than white people? (Director's note: Y? would prefer a person with medical qualifications answer this question.)
POSTED AUG. 9, 1998
J. Lindsey <
lindsey@vnet.net>, Lincolnton, NC

ANSWER 1:
Although I'm not a doctor, I believe I'm more than qualified to expound on your question. As we all know, black people were brought to this country, against their will, in the bottom of slave ships. While on this journey, they were given just enough food to sustain life for the incredibly long journey. This food was the worst kind imaginible. Most people wouldn't feed the food the slaves received to pigs. Their digestive system regurgitated most of it, but some of them managed to hold down just enough to survive. Upon thier arrival to America, this tradition of being given food that wasn't suited for animals continued. Although the menu increased a little, the food was very high in fat and had a high salt content. After 300-plus years of that kind of abuse to the body, black people are inundated with all kinds of heath problems.With education and time, hopefully we can begin to reverse the process.
POSTED AUG. 12, 1998
H.K. <
yafeu@aol.com>, Fresno, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
Answer 1 is inconsistent with the mechanics of evolution. First, 300 years isn't nearly long enough to produce such a widespread change. Second, people can not pass on acquired characteristics, so slaves eating high fat/high salt diets would not cause their descendents to have high blood pressure. In fact, just the opposite would happen - slaves who were better able to survive the bad diets and conditions would be more likely to reproduce, and their descendents would be more likely to be immune to high blood pressure from high fat/high salt diets. Finally, if this theory were true, then African blacks would not have similar rates of high blood pressure. As strange as it sounds, it is more likely that the tendency to high blood pressure confers some unknown benefit that helped African blacks survive and reproduce - like sickle-cell anemia. While inheriting this terrible genetic disease from both parents results in suffering and early death, people who inherit the gene from only one parent are less likely to die if they become infected with malaria. This resulted in such a strong evolutionary advantage for people in malaria-infested parts of Africa that it outweighed the disadvantages. The disease still persists in American blacks 300 years later.
POSTED AUG. 14, 1998
Molly, 47, Costa Mesa, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Although I am not a doctor, I do believe I can shed some light on this issue as I am an African American who was born and raised in the South and have taken many African-American history courses in college. I think the answer to your question can be summed up in one word: Diet. To expound on H.K.'s answer: The food given to slaves was the food that would have been thrown away (pigs' feets, tails and intestines, for example). The slaves were very creative in their desire to make the food more palatable. Various spices brought to America during the slave trade, as well as newly discovered spices, were combined in an attempt to make this otherwise horrible food more edible. This was the beginning of soul food. Most soul food consists of fried meats (chicken, fish, pork chops and beef), highly seasoned vegetables and rich desserts. Obviously this food is very high in fat and colesterol.
POSTED AUG. 14, 1998
Tony W., 36, African American <
tonyway@yahoo.com>, San Francisco, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
In my opinion, there is nothing medically sound about H.K.'s answer. If the moderator of this forum is going to request a medical practitioner answer this question, why was this answer posted? All I can see in that response is another version of the blaming and finger-pointing that seems to be pervasive in this forum. There may be a genetic reason for the higher incidence in blood pressure, or that observation may be incorrect. Why not let a doctor or nurse answer the question correctly?
POSTED AUG. 14, 1998
John K., 25, straight Irish-American male <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford, NJ

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
You could also add as a contributing factor the fact that it is extraordinarily stressful for an African American to live in white American culture.
POSTED AUG. 14, 1998
Al, 59, white <
alarose@ncwc.edu>, Rocky Mount, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Y? was able to contact Dr. Clarence E. Grim, professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Dr. Grim offers the following:

"There are two major hypotheses:

1) The stress of racism hypothesis: This posits that the stress of living in a racist society like the United States activates neuroendocrine factors that raise the blood pressre (cortisol, adrenaline). The major counter argument to this is that high blood pressure is as common in non-racist societies - Haiti, Barbados, Jamaica - as it is in the United States.

2) The selective-survival-during-slavery hypothesis: I am the one who has developed this hypothesis and written extensively on the evidence, pro and con. This hypothesis states that the greater rates of high blood pressure in Western Hemisphere blacks are a consequence of selective survival during the slavery period of the African Diaspora to the Western Hemisphere. The physiological survial mechanisms that were selected for in this history were the ability to survive under conditions of extreme heat and lack of access to adequate salt and water intake. As these factors are controlled by our genes (both in blacks and whites), selective survival of this genotype would persist in the descendents of the survivors of this history. When this genotype is exposed to today's high salt intake, high blood pressure develops."
POSTED AUG. 17, 1998
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