Best of the Week
of Sept. 6, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 6, 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:
R457: Are young Asian Americans intent on assimilating into white culture? I rarely see young Asian Americans overtly celebrating their heritage the way African Americans, the Irish, Mexicans, Poles, etc. , do. Also, I see more Asian/white couples than I do Asian/Asian couples. Am I wrong, or are Asians quietly assimilating into white culture?
POSTED SEPT. 11, 1998
K. Green, black male <
KennyG9@yahoo.com>, Chicago, IL
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THE QUESTION:
D25: I am 18 and lost my right leg about two years ago. There is no leg stump - just my body. I prefer to get around on crutches, and I hardly ever wear a prosthetic leg. My jeans and slacks are tailored to fit my hip - i.e. there is no right leg on them at all. I feel safer this way because there is no loose empty leg (even if it's pinned up) to catch on things. I am perfectly comfortable like this, walking on forearm crutches. I am a fit, almost six-foot-tall male, slightly heavily built. My question is, What do people think when they see me out and about? I go to football matches, attend school, dance at a nightclub, ride a rollercoaster, travel on public transport and lots of other things. I plan to visit the United States. Do people think I should try to look like ordinary people? Would they rather I wore a leg?
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Justin, 18, male <
justinl80@hotmail.com>, Sydney, Australia

ANSWER 1:
Speaking for myself, I know that I would be curious about what happened to your leg. Most people stare with wondering thoughts. Personally, it doesn't bother me if someone is missing an arm or leg, and I don't see why you should alter your appearance to "fit in." People will like you for who you are.
POSTED SEPT. 11, 1998
Bud <
superman@aol.com>, Tampa , FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
I'd say don't try to conceal it. It sounds as though you have given thought to appearance as well as comfort and safety, and we need to be shown that the only difference between you and everyone else is that we've got an extra leg. I've been on crutches a few times and moved faster on them than on my own legs. I have a friend with prosthetic legs, and they're cumbersome and clumsy to deal with. Some people you meet may feel uncomfortable, but your own attitude will be the final determinant.
POSTED SEPT. 11, 1998
Al, 59 <
alarose@ncwc.edu>, Rocky Mount, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Justin, the most important thing to consider is your own comfort. If using the crutches with your pants tailored to fit as you like them allows you to be yourself, then do it! Will people look? Of course. Anyone who stands out of the norm will always be noticed, whether it's alternative hairstyles or missing limbs. There is a middle-aged man in my neighborhood who has a prosthesis from mid-thigh. He has absolutely no limp and wears short pants. The first time I saw him, I looked. Now, I really don't even notice. I saw a young man in a wheelchair "dancing" with the crowd one night at a hot dance club. He attracted attention, but more for his skill at balancing on just the main wheels while spinning and changing directions. Some would say he shouldn't have been out there, but don't count me in that group. Bottom line: It's your body, and you have to be comfortable with yourself.
POSTED SEPT. 11, 1998
Mark B., 37, gay male <
bentley@cyberramp.net>, Dallas, TX
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THE QUESTION:
O15: Which occupations have the highest and lowest divorce rates, and why?
POSTED JUNE 28, 1998
Steve S., 46, white, Omaha, NE

ANSWER 1:
Occupations with the lowest divorce rates tend to be lower-paying, causing the couples to have to work together for survival purposes, whereas higher-paying occupations allow the partner to walk out if desired. Hence, the more money, the more choices in lifestyles. As a clerical worker, I observe couples working side by side earning the household income. Divorce is almost unheard of in my profession.
POSTED JULY 26, 1998
Christopher D., 22 <
alphacentuari@mindspring.com >, Arlington, TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
Any job that offers odd hours and places the individual in regular proximity to the opposite sex has the potential to be a problem for someone who is married. Throw in a power image, coupled with having to deal with people who are vulnerable, and the formula for marital disaster increases. Bartenders and police officers are high on the risk list, as are instructors engaged in specialized endeavors. Being able to travel away from home on a regular basis can also be the kiss of death to an otherwise happy marriage.
POSTED SEPT. 11, 1998
F.R., 53 <
FR3FR3@aol.com>, Simi Valley, CA
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THE QUESTION:
R455: To Japanese Americans: How do you feel about the fact that the U.S. media has spent so much time discussing the Holocaust but has mostly ignored discussion of the Japanese-American internment camps in operation in the United States during the same time?
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Laura W., 37, Jewish female, <
lauraw@cobalt.cnchost.com>, Los Angeles, CA
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THE QUESTION:
R65: Why do black people say that other black people who make it in corporate America or other high-profile jobs are sell-outs?
POSTED MARCH 20, 1998
Gary, 26, white male <
pillette@tdi.net>, Monroe, MI

ANSWER 1:
Success in mainstream America is perceived as giving in or selling out to "The Man" instead of resisting. It's the same thing with blacks who speak proper English as opposed to slang. They are questioned about their "blackness," as if they are trying to be something they're not. (Trying to be white.) Ludicrous, isn't it?
POSTED MARCH 21, 1998
John W., African American, Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think John W.'s answer fails to do justice to the often legitimate criticism/concern that a black person who "makes it" in corporate America is a sell-out. The reality is that, even today, those who are in the positions to determine whether, when, and to what extent a black person is allowed an opportunity to advance are largely white men (e.g., college admissions committees). I believe these men continue to make such decisions in part on how well a given black person "fits in," and "fitting in" often means "acting white." (Yes, there is a such thing as acting white.)

If you disagree, go out in society and compare the background, demeanor, social habits, personality and even spouses of, say, black men who have made partner in America's largest private law firms. Compare them to white men and you will see they act white, often displaying behavior that markedly contrasts with the average black male professional. Qualifications aside, their "whiteness" is the reason whites felt comfortable enough to hire them in the first place. (If you doubt that, too, compare the blacks that whites tend to hire with the blacks that whites refuse jobs, even where the qualifications are the same.)

Finally, consider that there is almost no chance any black person who takes a job in a majority/historically white setting will not encounter racism. The question is, what will he/she do when that happens? If they point it out and try to "change" it, they're likely to be fired. If they overlook it and stay quiet, they might keep their jobs and even be rewarded (with promotions, etc.). So, the notion is that in order to advance to any high level in "white" corporate America, a black would be required to pretend that racism doesn't exist; some really believe it and are, therefore, considered sell-outs. I feel Justice Clarence Thomas is a prime example. As a black man, were he not a sell-out, regardless of credentials, he absolutely would not have been nominated and confirmed for the Supreme Court. Blacks already know this; I wonder if whites do.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
A.J.S., 26, black male <
ASalley@aol.com>, Columbia, SC
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THE QUESTION:
D23: To people in wheelchairs: Is it appropriate for someone to ask if you need assistance? Is it patronizing for someone to ask you, "May I get the door for you?" I recognize that the answer will probably depend on the individual and the circumstance, but I'm hoping for some guidelines.
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Kim S. <
gibbon@asu.edu>, Tempe, AZ

ANSWER 1:
As a wheelchair user, I appreciate it tremendously when someone asks if I need assistance or offers their help. In fact, I find it terribly rude when someone obviously sees me struggling with something (such as opening a door, reaching objects in a store or going up a ramp) and either ignores me, or worse, stands there and stares without helping. In my opinion, asking if someone needs help is always the polite thing to do, wheelchair or not.
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Patricia J., 40, wheelchair user <
clotho@alaska.net>, Richmond, VA
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THE QUESTION:
R448: Has anyone ever thought about that movie, White men can't jump, and realized if it had been called Black men can't jump there would have been all kinds of controversy, and yet since it referred to white men it was no problem? Why is it a problem if blacks are put down but not if whites are put down? I'm not racist, just curious.
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
Meep Beep , 17, white <
snail40@yahoo.com>, Caledonia, MI

ANSWER 1:
We saw the movie with a white friend, and he didn't see it as a putdown. He told us the good basketball players who jump/slam well happen to be black, and the pure shooters, long/short range, are white. We didn't see the movie as a putdown; Woody Harrelson shot well and Wesley Snipes slammed-dunked well. Made a great team that was needed to win!
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
A.A.W., 42, black female <
ANABWI@aol.com>, Plantation, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
Actually, the "putdown" was directed at blacks, not whites. It is a very subtle, insidious type of prejudice, that is masterful in its effect of appearing to be complimentary to blacks rather than an insulting perpetuation of a racist myth. If "White men can't jump," then by inference, black men can. Since being brought to America in chains, black men have fought the stereotype that they are bestial, jumping animals. Jumping ability is not considered a highly valued human trait,so blacks are stereotyped as reigning supreme in low-value, bestial skills. Considerably more worth is attributed to a man who can think vs. one who can jump. When you note a movie titled White men can't think, then you may justly express concern that white people are being "put down."
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Sanford F., black male <
sfinley@earthlink.net>, Naperville, IL
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THE QUESTION:
R452: Being Native American, I can understand the hardships and trauma African Americans have suffered while their rights were being questioned. Many of them lost several generations to poor working conditions, disease and beatings. I often wonder: Do African Americans support Indians in their continued fight for freedom in this country? And do African Americans support Indians' rights to sovereignty and the right to own and operate casinos for income to better their economic status?
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Quincy S. 3, Luiseno female <
Quincees@aol.com>, San Diego, CA

ANSWER 1:
I am an African American and totally support Indians' rights to sovereignty over their land. This entire country was theirs, and it was stolen from them, even though they were more than willing to share it. And they have many signed (and broken) treaties to show their willingness to share this land. So for the little bit of land they now have, it should be totally theirs. They should have the ability to operate any kind of business that does not adversely affect our shared ecology. We should not be adversely affecting the shared ecology,either. They should have sovereignty, and they should be able to open or not open as many casinos as their people see fit.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
S.D., 23, black American, Oakland, CA

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THE QUESTION:
RE67: I have trouble accepting all the teachings of the Baptist church, although baptized by my own will. My main concern is the belief that you should not drink alcohol. Why is this? All the references to drinking in the Bible I have found basically say not to obsess/get drunk. Besides, Jesus turned water into wine. This has prevented me from attending church faithfully, as I don't want others in the church to condemn me for wanting a glass of wine with my meal. I prefer Scripture quotes if anyone responds.
POSTED JUNE 17, 1998
Krystina L. <
krystina@okicol.com>,Columbus, OH

ANSWER 1:
The occasion of the "Last Supper" when Jesus shared wine with his Apostles was not an uncommon thing. They evidently shared wine at meals on a regular basis. But as you mentioned, they drank in moderation. I can only say that I believe the Baptist religion is teaching something that is not in harmony with the Bible. Paul addresses this at 1 Timothy 5:23: "Drink no water longer, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine infirmities." He advises Timothy to drink wine, though only a "little." In 1 Tim chapter 3, Paul gives the qualifications for overseers in the congregation. Verse 3 says, "not given to drunkeness." We are all responsible for investigating what our religion teaches. If we do not think one, some or all of the teachings agree with the Bible, we must ask ourselves, "Is the truth more important to me than this religion?" Live with your conscience once you've answered that question.
POSTED JULY 27, 1998
M.A.M., 25, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE:
You will probably never agree with all the teachings of any denomination. I haven't found one I completely agree with. The important thing is to believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. St. Paul advises in Romans 14:21 not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. In his letter to the Ephesians in 5:18, Paul says to be not drunk with wine. In his first letter to Timothy 5:23, he advises him to "...use a little wine for his stomach's sake..." Use Paul's teachings as a guide, but know that Jesus is absolute truth. Jesus says in Matthew 15:11-20 that it is not what goes into a person's mouth that defiles him but what comes out. What enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated, but what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and from the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, etc. These are the things that defile a person.
POSTED AUG. 14, 1998
J.B., 45, non-denominational <
berryjb@swbell.net>, Missouri City, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
As a former Baptist I can tell you that the prohibition against alcohol started in The Prohibition. The current stand is probably more dogmatic than it needs to be. Considering the Baptist belief in the priesthood of the individual, you should not be outcast for having a drink, but also consider whether your drink might be a stumbling block to others. As a religious conservative I will add that a modern glass of wine has far more alcohol than the Biblical glass. In the Middle East, grape juice will quickly ferment if not consumed immediately. Modern wine processing and grape selection is built to increase the alcohol content. And, of course, "new wine" (always praised in the Bible) will have far less alcohol than "old wine." As a tea-totaller, I personally would rather not start drinking because of the bad example of drunks in my family. The same has been true of smoking and coffee. All are acquired tastes I have found no need to acquire.
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
Craig, 40, male, MO

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I've never been a drinker, although I did experiment a bit a college. I'm sure you've found all the Scriptures that deal with drinking, and you're right: Nowhere does it say "Thou shalt not drink"; but we are to be witnesses to others by our actions. For example, say I was gossiping with a fellow Christian about a third person; not publicly slandering, just gossiping among ourselves. If a person I�d been witnessing to overheard me, I wouldn�t appear very Christ-like (and that is, after all, what Christian means). They may draw the conclusion that the Christian lifestyle is no different from their own, so why bother with it. Or, they may throw around the �H� word (hypocrite). The same could be said for an occasional drink. You're not getting drunk, but what if someone you'd been witnessing to saw you having that drink? They may be misled.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think an occasional drink is going to send anyone to hell, and I certainly don't want to condemn anyone, but I know what works for me. You stated that this whole drinking thing is the main reason you don�t attend church regularly. If it�s that much of an issue, maybe you have bigger things to worry about than what people think of you. You�re basically saying that if the Church does indeed condemn it, you choose alcohol over the Church. Romans 14:20 and 21 says �...All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.� I, personally, would rather not open any doors (in my spiritual life) that may one day lead another down the wrong path. Ephesians 4:27 says to �...do not give the devil a foothold.� I believe alcohol to be a foothold, whether it is controlled or not.

Please don't hold the opinion of a few church members against the church itself. We shouldn�t choose a religion (or denomination) by finding one that doesn�t require us to make any changes in our life. Christianity is all about change. Ask God to help you make the decision that's right for you. Pray for wisdom, not just for the thing you want.
POSTED SEPT. 11, 1998
Danny J., 33, Baptist <
articulate@earthlink.net>, Austin, TX
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THE QUESTION:
GE69: Why has it become acceptable for men to urinate openly in public bathrooms? I am 35, gay and rather shy about my body. I work in a corporate setting and find "upper management" trying to talk me while I am urinating! I am embarrassed but usually wind up in a stall to avoid this.
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Joe D., 35, gay male <
josephdonato@hotmail.com >, Philadelphia, PA

ANSWER 1:
You are not alone on this one. I am female and am constantly finding myself in situations where another woman is talking to me while one or both of us are in the stall. Although I am not bashful, I feel very uncomfortable with this. I was always taught that when a bathroom door is shut, you don't bother the occupant for anything short of a fire. For me, this has carried over from the home bathroom to the restrooms. Why do people do this?
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Kay H. 35, female, Alpena, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
A while back, my husband and I had a discussion about this very topic. I told him I would be very uncomfortable with the idea of going to the bathroom in view of other people. I have even had unpleasant dreams about this scenario akin to those about showing up for work in the nude. My husband thought this was kind of weird, and didn't seem to share my discomfort about this topic. Yesterday he did, however, relate to me that he thought it was very disturbing to have someone of the same sex watch him urinate into a cup for a random drug test for his job.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Female White Prude, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
This issue really bugs me, too. I'm not at all shy about my body, but my body has a mind of its own when it comes to urinating in public. You can lead a horse to water... It's called a "bashful bladder," and my father suffers from the same condition. I simply cannot go if there are people around or even within earshot. I often have to work around this disability, especially in situations where men's rooms don't offer a private stall. You'll never see a women's room with toilets lined up side by side without a privacy enclosure. The worst case of this lack of regard for a man's privacy is the New York City Marathon, where they construct 30-foot troughs lined with plastic sheets that empty into a drain at one end. Here men are required to stand shoulder to shoulder in the outdoors while tourists take pictures of the spectacle from the bridges above. The Japanese are quite sensitive to this need for privacy. In Japan, most bathrooms consist only of fully enclosed stalls with walls and doors that go right to the ceiling and floor. They even have music or white noise playing to dampen the sound of one's personal business. I often wonder if Japanese men suffer from "bashful bladder" more than other men. I'd like to hear from any Japanese men who could shed insight on this issue.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Jim, 39, Tallahassee, FL

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THE QUESTION:
R444: I am a 33-year-old white female from a small town in Texas. Recently, my children and I got lost while driving in a big city, and when I pulled off the freeway to ask directions, I noticed we were in an all-black neighborhood. It scared me and I got back on the freeway. Why did this bother me? I'm not racist and love all people. And what should I tell my children about what happened?
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
C. Chance <
chance@eastland.net>, Strawn , TX

ANSWER 1:
One needs distinguish to between racism (the belief and expectation of inferiority, ignorance or unworthiness of another group based solely on ethnic characteristics) and fear based on cultural images. To fear African Americans because "they're all violent" is racist. To recognize that the vast majority of African Americans have little reason to love Euro-America, that those parts of the inner city in which the social and economic system ghetto-izes some African Americans tend to have higher incidences of violence, and to have noticed news reports of Euro-Americans who have been hurt by walking into the wrong place at the wrong time seems prudent when alone with one's children at night in a strange city. All one can tell one's children is the truth: "I was frightened. All black people aren't violent. We were in a strange place and I felt safer getting out."
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Al, White, 59 <
alarose@ncwc.edu>, Rocky Mount , NC

FURTHER NOTICE:
I believe it is a natural human instinct to feel fear when we find ourselves in any situation where we are noticeably different from the majority of the other people around us. As a woman in a predominantly male profession, I have noticed uneasiness in myself when I am in an unfamiliar work environment and am the only woman - or one of only a few women - on site. In my mind, the difference between normal, instinctual fear and racism is the recognition of the fear for what it is, and a rational assessment of the actual danger involved. My belief is that one of the biggest catalysts for bigotry is our tendency to knee-jerk reactions, based on ancient instincts, that are projected onto that of which we are afraid, i.e., I am scared of you, therefore you must be bad because if you weren't I would have no reason to be afraid. So, the fear itself isn't racist. How you react to that fear - how you assess the true danger and the reason for it - is what determines whether your attitude is racist.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Laura W., white female, 37 <
lauraw@cobalt.cnchost.com>, Los Angeles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Part of Al's respons puzzled me: "...the vast majority of African Americans have little reason to love Euro-America..." If C. Chance (the original questioner) had been robbed, would hatred of Euro-Americans been blamed as the cause? I don't think so. This assumption that all black Americans are angry and hateful at white Americans is too simplistic. I think one should focus on the economics of race. Not too many years ago, Irish immigrants were considered "non-white"; it wasn't until the economic standards of Irish immigrants improved that they "became" white (read The Wages of Whiteness by David Roediger). C. Chance, you should ask yourself this question: Was I frightened by the appearance of the neighborhood (was it unkempt, rundown, etc.) and would I have felt the same way had the inhabitants been white, or Japanese? If you would have felt the same way, you're not racist (you were just feeling the sentiments of how poor neighborhoods are portrayed by the media and entertainment industries). If you would have felt safe had the people you saw been white, then perhaps you should reconsider your belief that you're not a racist.
POSTED SEPT. 10 ,1998
Tony, black male <
Tonyway@yahoo.com>, San Francisco, CA
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THE QUESTION:
C9: This question is almost the opposite of C1: With University of Michigan students returning for the fall, most of our stores have been deluged. I was in line at Target, behind a young woman wearing clothes that looked like they'd made several trips through the thrift store - thin, worn hooded sweatshirt, falling-apart sneakers, etc. In short, she was dressed like a lot of U of M students. If you haven't heard, this ain't exactly a cheap school, and it's even less so for out-of-state students. I don't know why I was surprised to see her paying with an Optima Gold card. Why do the poor try to make themselves look ostentatiously rich, and the rich try to make themselves look homeless?
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
White male, college town working stiff, Ann Arbor, MI

ANSWER 1:
I believe society values money and sees those who "have" as much more valuable/important than those who "have-not." I believe that's why people with little money try to appear as rich as possible, so that they will be respected and taken seriously. The reason many college kids with money try to appear poor could stem from a few notions. They might be trying to separate themselves and assert their independence from their parents (even though they are benefiting from mom and dad's money). Another possibility is that they want to take on the persona of honesty and humbleness that is more often associated with the poor/working class than with the rich.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Darbma, 44, white, middle class <
darbymom@hotmail.com>, New York, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
I believe we first must recognize that your assessment of the women in the store is mere assumption. Simply having a Gold card does not mean someone is rich. Basically, it identifies that they do not have a bad credit rating (yet) and that they got on the list of some company willing to give them an opportunity to produce debt. At face value, your question seems to have two sides: 1) Why would anyone with means go "slumming," while 2) those with little resources would wish to flaunt themselves? I suggest it is ego in both cases. The latter is easy to interpret; the poor want to be thought of as "better" by wearing the best. The former case, in which the rich person wears rags, however unlikely, may stem from an arrogant feeling that they need not be concerned with what the "riff-raff" think. Whatever their rationale, I think I would worry more about those who overspend/overdress against their income than about those who do the opposite. Expensive clothes do not make us more healthy or nicer people, which I believe are genuinely more attractive elements than if the shoes come from Italy.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Jim E., 40s, European American, Durham, NC

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THE QUESTION:
SO67: I am a mother ot two and love my husband very much and enjoy sex with him, but I find myself attracted to women. Has anyone ever acted on these kinds of feelings, and what has been the result?
POSTED AUG. 18, 1998
L.E., Georgetown, IL

ANSWER 1:
I am a gay male who was married to a woman for 12 years when I decided to act on my feelings of homosexuality. I have four children and my now ex-wife and I still talk, but it changed our relationship forever. I guess I would have to say I am not sorry I came out; as a matter of fact I am finally happy. I always knew I was gay, but my question to you is "Are you just curious or are you gay?" Not an easy answer, and finding out can change your life forever.
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
David , 33, Euro-American <
GayDadwgr@aol.com>, Detriot, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
I am a heterosexual female. Before I met and married my husband, I found myself attracted to a female as well. I think women have beautiful bodies. The curves and shapes are truly a work of art. I had a brief encounter with this woman. It was an experience, but, I will say this, I didn't find it nearly as satisfying as my relationship with my husband. I love men and men's bodies. God did a marvelous thing when he created two types of bodies that fit so perfectly. Enjoy your appreciation of the female anatomy. Enjoy your husband. But you are in a marriage commitment, and I believe that is your primary concern. Don't do anything that will jeopardize your family. You must think about the repercussions of your actions should you decide to act on these feelings and/or fantasies. Are you willing to lose everything you have for this?
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
A., straight female, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
If you have always been homosexual, and got married only in an attempt to deny that fact or escape from it, you may be entitled to sympathy. If you never loved your husband and never had any sexual desire for him, it's possible that leaving him is the right thing to do. However, since you say you love your husband and enjoy sex with him, you are not entitled to special rights or special sympathy just because the person you're attracted to is a woman. A heterosexual male who says, "I love my wife and I like sex with her, but I just noticed this woman down the road, and I'm experiencing lust for her" would not be met with sympathy and compassion. He'd be told: "Look, mister, you took a vow before God to be faithful to your wife. Your current desires are irrelevant." And I say the same thing to any bisexual married person. You have no more right to cheat with a member of your own sex than you would with a member of the opposite sex.
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Astorian, straight male, 37 <
Astorian@aol.com>, Austin, TX
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THE QUESTION:
R451: In Northern Minnesota, there seems to be quite a prejudice against Native Americans. Recently I heard an Indian refer to himself as "a drunken Indian" during a TV broadcast. He had been commenting on how he believed white people viewed him. Do other American Indians feel this way? Or do Indians actually view themselves as drunkards?
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
M.T., Bemidji, MN

ANSWER 1:
I'm a (brown) Afro American and used to travel to Minnesota on business. Once, I was threatened by a group of whites who mistook me for a Native American. After learning I was an Afro American from Chicago, everything was OK Also, when I was Hawaii, I noticed that many whites expressed extreme racism toward the native Hawaiian population. I relate this to confirm your suspicion of the existence of prejudice in Minnesota toward Native Americans. More importantly, I relate this because it seems to say a lot about the nature of racism in America: It appears that any group that shares space with the majority, white, population in America becomes the object of prejudice. If you travel to the South, blacks are described as lazy, drunken, etc. If there are few blacks around, then Native Americans, Hispanics, Hawaiians, Asians or (fill in the blank) become lazy, drunken, etc. Why this is is perhaps the subject of another question.
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
S.F., black male, <
sfinley@earthlink.net>, Naperville, IL
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THE QUESTION:
R38: I am curious as to why many black women have the prefix "La" before their name, while black men often have "De" before theirs. Examples: Lawanda or DeShawn or DeAndre.
POSTED MARCH 16, 1998
Scott O., Jackson, MI

ANSWER 1:
It is our way of adding a flair to what we consider the mundane. By the same token, as a black person, I'm puzzled as to why someone would name a child Sarah, Betsy, or Jack.
POSTED MARCH 20, 1998
Clara D., Stone Mountain, GA

FURTHER NOTICE:
White people name their children Sarah, Betsy or Jack because the names have a meaning. Sarah means "princess," Betsy is the diminutive of Elizabeth, meaning "God is my oath," and Jack is a variant of Jacob. Personally I despise the modern practice of giving silly names to children. A woman I know (white) named her sons Buster and Django - yuck. I once saw a black woman named Nisombe, and I thought it was just beautiful. I could tell the name came from a real language and had a real heritage. I don't think black people have to choose white names for their children, but I feel they should use real names with a real history and entymology.
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
Elaine C. <
eoder1@compulinx-net.net>, Columbus, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
To Elaine C.: Just because a name is unfamiliar to you does not mean it's meaningless. Django, for example, was the first name of one of the most influential jazz guitarists - Django Reinhardt, a European gypsy. I have no idea if Django means anything as a word, but for a music lover, it holds a great deal of meaning.
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Andrew, 34, white <
ziptron@hotmail.com,>, Huntington, NY
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THE QUESTION:
R348: I work with a man from India. When he eats candy or chips at our workplace, he always leaves just one item or a few chips in the bag (these are foods we share with our co-workers). When I asked him about it, he said his culture says it is customary to leave something. As an American, I think it is rude to leave a few chips in a bag for someone else. Is it true what he says?
POSTED JUNE 17, 1998
Marilyn Y., Royal Oak, MI

ANSWER 1:
Customs with food are different in all cultures. In India, it is considered polite to not take a whole sweet out of a purchased sweet box, but only a piece. On the other hand, when you are at a guest's house, it is the height of politeness to have numerous helpings of food (and of every dish), thus praising the host's cooking skills. Loud burping sometimes is OK, too! On the other hand, in China, you will offend your host if you eat too much food (you will be metaphorically eating your host out of house and home). So in China you only eat three quarters of your dish. Eating everything is a sign to your host to refill your dish - bad form. Having eaten in a lot of strange places, all I can say is, "Is the food great? Buon appetito."
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
Ashok, Indian <
ashok@earthlink.net>, Palo Alto, CA
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