Best of the Week
of Sept. 3, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 3, 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:
Are there any elderly women going back to college to take undergraduate courses? If so, why? Is it to fill a hole in your life by the loss of a loved one? Is it just for the heck of it?
POSTED 9/8/2000
Jim, Bowling Green, OH, United States, 22, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Graduate Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 97200075139

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Question:
Does anyone else think the whole 'in-your-face' BS notion that many rappers project is going to the head of suburban white youth? Why are they so attracted to it? I grew up in a dangerous housing project (unlike most of them), and I can see through the bad boy cloud for the sham it really is.
POSTED 9/5/00
Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, 21, Male, Carpenter, Lower class, Mesg ID 940072722

Responses:
Contemplate this scenario: I'm a suburban white boy. I'm pampered. Protected. Bored. Feeling neutered. Been told all my life that showing emotions isn't good. Here's these guys on TV acting 'bad-ass,' very macho and masculine, 'expressing themselves,' certainly not like Dad or the guy Mom's been seeing since the divorce. They don't know themselves and they don't know me. I think that they just want everything calm and 'normal.' These rap guys are cool. I'm all over it. I'd understand Ginsberg's writing of 'dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix' if anyone bothered to teach us that poem at my lame, conservative school. But, thanks to MTV, I can drag myself through those streets with this music. Maybe I can express myself, my pain, my confusion. Maybe I can learn something. Maybe I won't end up like my parents. Plus the beats are diggety-dope. I used to live in an inner-city. I went to a suburban high school. I observed kids there who felt they had no outlet for the nasty, confusing emotions of adolescence except drugs, sex and types of music - all to piss off/differentiate themselves from their parents. They're kids, and it's no different than actual inner-city kids who feel a bit more powerful with rap - which pisses off their parents. It speaks to them, too. It's happened before (Ragtime, Jazz, Elvis, Jimi) and it'll happen again. Seamus, they have no clue, plain and simple. They're so wrapped up in themselves at this stage that they don't care. Plus, as in the cases of Eminem, DMX, Biggie and Tupac, it's not all a sham. Some people lived what they rap about.
POSTED 9/5/2000
Miranda, New York, NY, United States, 31, Female, Unitarian, Straight, Production Coordinator, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 950070904
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Question:
Since when, and why, do female office employees in the United States often wear sneakers at work? To a European like me it seems very unusual, because in Europe sneakers are rarely worn in an office setting, especially not by women.
POSTED 9/5/00
M.K., San Francisco, CA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 950022243

Responses:
I started wearing sneakers to work when I started taking public transportation. My office is seven blocks uphill from my bus stop. Walking in heels was not only bad on my shoes, but also bad on my feet. I keep three pair of pumps in my office and change into my 'work' shoes when I arrive in the morning and out of them when I go home.
POSTED 9/8/2000
Alicia, Seattle, WA, United States, 31, Female, Attorney, Middle class, Mesg ID 96200035312

I would have thought the health benefits were obvious. Traditional office shoes are notoriously bad for the feet and back. I would also like to point out that it is becoming more common in the United Kingdom, too. Sneakers are some of the very few flat and comfortable shoes that are fashionable to wear. And the modern styles go very well with suit trousers. I'm not too sure about wearing them with skirts, though!
POSTED 9/8/2000
B.B., Edinburgh, NA, United Kingdom, 26, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, PhD Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 96200051540

About 20 years ago, there was a strike by New York City's mass transit workers. Many of the millions who work in Manhattan had to find alternate means to reach their places of employment. This happened in the spring during a period of beautiful weather, so a substantial number of those workers chose to walk. In many cases, this involved walks of five to 10 miles - in some cases, no doubt, even longer. Many women (and some men) who elected to walk wore sneakers to the office, then changed into shoes when they arrived. The strike lasted two or three weeks. By the time it was settled, a new fashion was born - one that remains fairly common in New York City today.
POSTED 9/8/2000
Charlie F., New York, NY, United States, Mesg ID 972000104934
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Question:
The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland(Ulster). Why are the last three considered Gaelic countries, but England is not? What is Gaelic, anyway? Does it have something to do with Celtic history?
POSTED 9/4/00
Robert S., Poole, NA, United Kingdom, <rms6859@postmaster.co.uk>, 24, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 940052109

Responses:
Gaelic, specifically, is a group of related Indo-European languages. The reason England is not considered a Gaelic/Celtic country is that its language is derived from the melding of the Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin languages. The other three languages listed are surviving Celtic languages (Scottish and Irish being of the Gaelic line and Welsh belonging to a more Continental line that includes Breton).
POSTED 9/5/2000
Joshua L., Westland, MI, United States, <fadhmir@mediaone.net>, 25, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 950073611

'Gaelic' is a linguistic term used to describe the languages of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Usually the languages involved are called Irish Gaelic, Scots Gaelic and Manx. These belong to a larger group, the Celtic group of languages. This group also includes Welsh (from Wales), Cornish (from Cornwall) and Breton (from Brittany). So Wales is a Celtic country, but not really a Gaelic one.
POSTED 9/5/2000
Andrea K., Farmington, ME, United States, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, teacher/musician, Over 4 Years of College,Mesg ID 950041550

Technically the English are a Germanic people, yet they are quite mixed. Your basic English person is firstly derived of a combination of the Angle and Saxon tribes, who mixed it up around northern Germany and Denmark, hence Anglo-Saxon. During the beginning stages of the dark ages the Anglo-Saxons made it across the channel and began to conquer the Britonic peoples, who were fully Celt. In the great human tradition they mixed it up and were now a further hybrid. Then the Normans came along (who were Norsemen who had settled in northern France), overran England yet eventually faded away because of mixing. Then there are also strains of Norwegian from the Vikings coming through, as well as Roman from when Britain was a Roman province. The Welsh, Scottish and Irish either remained free of invading armies or did not mix too much with anyone, therefore they are considered purely Celtic. Gaelic is the language group of the Celts (mostly the United Kingdom/Ireland these days), much like Nahua is the language group of the Natives of Meso-America. The Celts are considered the fathers of Europe and are derived from a mixture of Indo-European invaders (from Eurasia/northern India) and indigenous/original Europeans (extinct except in the case of the Basques), who then split off into far-flung and varying tribal groups separate from cultures such as the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans. The French and modern Italians are also quite mixed, but are Celtic-based, as are the English. And technically, Germanic and Romantic peoples are Celtic derived, but they split off as distinct groupings during the Roman Empire.
POSTED 9/6/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 9500113909

It's a linguistic thing: Wales, Scotland and Ireland preserved a Gaelic language to some degree, whereas England proper is where English was formed out of various Germanic languages (spoken by the Angles, Saxons and Danes) and French (brought over by the Normans), with a trace of the original Gaelic language of the Britons. Other Gaelic languages are or were spoken in Cornwall and Brittany.
POSTED 9/7/2000
Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, Male, Mesg ID 97200041534
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Question:
To people in South America: How are products advertised there? What type of advertisement would make you want to buy a product if you lived in Peru, Columbia, Brazil, etc.?
POSTED 9/4/00
Leann, Brighton, MI, United States, 30, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 940090028

Responses:
Your question is extremely general, but here goes: Here in Venezuela, as in much of Latin America, products in general need 'Hollywoood'-style marketing (selling dreams, with flair and beautiful people), while adding a small touch of local customs, showing usefulness (we generally don't buy stupid novelty items), and a good price-quality relation without saying 'cheap' bluntly. Usually you go for the A and B, because the C and D will just follow along, and sometimes even the E (the F only buys basic necessities, booze and bets). Customer loyalty here is very high; once you've completely converted your target, or even made it to their top of mind, it's hard for them to switch. Coca-Cola spent DECADES trying to convert people here from Pepsi (who got here first), and they only made it after the Pepsi plants temporarily closed (a grave mistake). There are plenty of books on marketing in Latin America. I suggest you simply look through the net and you will find a lot of information.
POSTED 9/6/2000
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 31, Male, Catholic, race=white/caucasian ethnicity=hispanic, lawyer/business, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 960022515
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Question:
Why are all models like size 0 and 1? I have seen several heavy women who are dazzling. I am an attractive teen, but I am a size 6 and no guy will date me because of my weight. They have even told me that's why.
POSTED 9/3/00
Sasha, Timpia, CT, United States, 18, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, have hereditary rickets, student, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 930032155

Responses:
Ugly comes in all sizes. It hurts to hear fat and ugly linked so often; it's almost become one word. I am fat - 5'3" and 200 lbs. I am not ugly, and I am quite happy with my size, as is my partner. Large & in charge. People MOVE out of my way and NOTICE me when I want something. Ugly is a state of mind; fat is a body type.
POSTED 9/6/2000
Juno R., out in the woods, OR, United States, <gofish@presys.com>, 38, Female, Viking/Celtic mongrel, Straight, bipolar disorder, production seamstress, High School Diploma , Lower class, Mesg ID 960025803
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Question:
Why has it become politically correct to refer to a black American as an 'African-American'?
POSTED 8/30/2000
Alan J., Bishopville, SC, United States, <jkart@ftc-i.net>, 41, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Training Manager, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8292000104930

Responses:
It boils down to African- mericans wanting to be identified by ethnicity. With, say, German-Americans, Irish-Americans, even Native Americans, you get a sense of where folks came from by those nomenclatures, and an idea of their history here. Just saying 'black' is almost this amorphous, 'Well, they're heeere' sort of identification, which isn't good. Even if a lot of African Americans don't know the specific country or region their ancestors came from in Africa, it's important for everyone to know there is a context, and not just these 'colored people' in the United States who popped out of nowhere with no history.
POSTED 9/5/00
Miranda, New York, NY, United States, 31, Female, Unitarian, Straight, Production Coordinator, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 830200020547

It is a matter of respect. In the past and still today the word "black" denotes evil and anything bad, so African Americans do not want to be associated with a negative term. I am African, and I do not like being referred to as black because my skin is brown and not black. Nevertheless, I can tolerate the word (black), but the term I abhor and find offensive is "colored."
POSTED 9/5/00
Ify, Miami, FL, United States, <ifebigh77@hotmail.com>, 23, Female, Mesg ID 8300092124

People of other races and ethnicities identify themselves that way. They call themselves Japanese-Americans or Chinese-Americans, not 'yellow' Americans. They say 'I'm Cherokee' or 'I'm Meewak,' not 'I'm red.' African-American is more descriptive than just plain old 'black.' When I call myself Afro-Caribbean, you get a much better idea of who I am than if I say I'm black.
POSTED 9/5/00
Natasha, Washington, DC, United States, 28, Female, Christian, Afro-Caribbean, Straight, receptionist, Technical School , Middle class, Mesg ID 950011608

In my opinion it is because they do not want to be called American, but they do not have the courage to go back to their homeland. Truth is, black folk are treated and tolerated better in America than in any other country, including the continent of Africa. They are filled with self-loathing and denial. Like it or not, they have not reached their 'awakening,' and will not in our lifetime. I am not degrading black folk, rather it is just the way it is, in my opinion.
POSTED 9/5/00
Bob, Tallahassee, FL, United States, 67, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, retired, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 930041209

I have also noticed that in the media it is the politically correct trend to classify (sometimes incorrectly) 'blacks' as 'African-Americans.' As with a former question of mine on this site, I can't understand why people often use such terms as 'African American' or 'people of color' (the latter which I find offensive). If I may also lump people into a category for a moment, none of my many 'black' friends ever refer to themselves with either term - they, as well as most other people I choose to associate with, refer to themselves as individuals; they don't try to align and segregate themselves with certain segments of the population that may not (and usually do not) at all describe or fit who they are. In fact, 'African-American' would seem to denote that the people using the term are from Africa, which they are not. All or some of their ancestors may very well have been from that continent, but that is irrelevant. For instance, some of my ancestors are from the European continent (from various countries) and some are from the American continent (a particular aboriginal tribe). I do not parade around in any attempt to be 'ethnically distinct' by calling myself a 'Mostly-European-American.' I am from America, and I am an American; where some of my ancestors came from is interesting, historical and culturally and ethnically pleasing to me, but nonetheless I am an American, and proud of it. Why anyone would want to owe their loyalty to a continent (not even a country or an ethnicity) where they most likely have never been and most likely do not know a great deal about is beyond me.
POSTED 9/5/00
Lisa, Raytown, MO, United States, <kaeori@lymax.com>, Female, Straight, college student, Mesg ID 920043258

Because we, the whitey, changed our minds within the past decade. Calling them black Americans would label them as full Americans. Since we have hope that they might one day go back to Africa, calling them 'African Americans' allows them immediate access back into that country with no questions asked.
POSTED 9/5/00
Dave D., Norfolk, VA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 910032311

It has become politically correct to use the term 'African American' because we are of African and American origins. Additionally, using colors as names of an entire race (i.e. white, black, etc.) is unacceptable in modern culture.
POSTED 9/5/00
K. Grant, Washington, DC, United States, Black/African American, Mesg ID 910085746
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Question:
Being of an age where one tends to glance through the obituaries from time to time, I have come to notice that in most cases blacks specifically make reference to having the title of Mr. or Master proceeding their name in their death announcement. I find that this is not the case for other races. Can anyone explain why this is?
POSTED 8/28/2000
Rick W., Flint, MI, United States, <RJW608@aol.com>, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 827200092915

Responses:
The reason is respect. For years, black people have been called various names due to the social climate ('Auntie' and 'Boy,' de facto names during segregation, are examples) or due to the lessening/degradation of manners (my father hates it when a 16-year-old clerk calls him by his first name without asking permission first). Because respect for age isn't applied/accounted for in life, it is applied/accounted for in death.
POSTED 9/5/00
G.E. Long, Chicago, IL, United States, 38, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, IT Management, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 910011943
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