Best of the Week
of Sept. 13, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 13, 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:
A22: It seems to me that a great many of the Generation X white population have chosen to act like black people. Why is this?
POSTED JULY 22, 1998
Rick, 40ish white guy, Virginia Beach, VA

ANSWER 1:
My first response to this question is, "How does one act black?" It is my observation that what is happening is that many people in my generation are attempting to leave racism behind. At my school, everyone associates with everyone. There are very few black kids who have no white friends and vice-versa. Most kids I know just act like normal, happy teenagers - not any stereotype for any race
POSTED SEPT. 19, 1998
K. Baker, black teen, Raleigh , NC
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O20: To General Motors workers: Why did you strike? It seems you make a good buck. Some might even say you're overpaid. Why do you feel GM owes you more than that? If GM is such a bad employer, why didn't you just quit?
POSTED AUG. 2, 1998
Kevin T. <
kthompso@cei.net>, Little Rock, AR

ANSWER 1:
I read quite a bit about the recent strike. Basically, money was an issue, but benefits was the main issue (health benefits in particular). I find it interesting that while a company sets record profits, has rising stock profits and pays its upper management ever-increasing sums, the company will not raise the pay of the workers and wants to cut benefits. In the '80s , GM asked the unions to take cuts in pay and benefits because "We're in it together." In the '90s that's been forgotten. If a company is making more and more money, who should benefit, the stockholders? Or the workers, too?
POSTED SEPT. 19, 1998
Linda L., Gainesville, FL
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THE QUESTION:
GE73: To men: What is your opinion of women who have had their breasts enlarged? Are you any less attracted to them if you find out their chest size is "fake"?
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Steph, 18, Lawrenceville, Ga

ANSWER 1:
Steph, I am a 45-year-old white male. I have been with women who have had breast augmentations and those who haven't. My choice? Go with what God gave you. The size of your breasts has nothing to do with you as a person, lover or friend. Granted, most men will turn their head when a woman who is "stacked" walks in a room. Again, based on my experience, I would rather be with a woman who enjoys lovemaking instead of looking good in a sweater.
POSTED SEPT. 14, 1998
M.O., 45, white male, FL
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THE QUESTION:
R402: Whenever I see a movie, TV show or video targeted to black people, there seems to be an underlying stereotype that all whites are racists and bigots. How accurate do people (of all races and backgrounds) think this is?
POSTED AUG. 9, 1998
RocketMan <
OldsRocket455@yahoo.com>, Akron, OH

ANSWER 1:
Most races do think white people are racists who discriminate based on color. Because what race is running this nation? What race came to this continent and made the Jewish holocaust look like a day at a church picnic when compared to the near genocide of Native Americans? What race brought African Americans from their homeland and made them slaves for hundreds of years? I am a Native American who moved to Akron, Ohio, last week, and I must say I feel like a fish out of water. But I will say that each individual has a choice to give into the prejudice or not to give into it. I prefer not to give into it or to live in the past.
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Shon J., Native American <
shonj@hotmail.com>, Akron, OH

FURTHER NOTICE:
I and most black people I know do not believe all white people are racists and bigots. What you see on movies may be over-emphasized (Hollywood with Southern accents). On the other hand, perhaps it's just what we go through everyday, and what is portrayed is just that. We don't view all white people as racists and bigots, but we experience our share of both (racism and bigotry) everyday. Well, I do. And hey! You're not in either category, so don't let it worry you.
POSTED SEPT. 19, 1998
Whitney T., 18, Southern black <
wkthomps@olemiss.edu>, Oxford , MS
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THE QUESTION:
R458: I live in a university area and regularly see young, black male students who are branded as part of their fraternity initiations. I often wonder about the origins and symbolism of the branding ritual, as well as how, 130-plus years after slavery, these organizations perceive it as positive to subject their members to branding.
POSTED SEPT. 14, 1998
Tim Q., 39, white, Cincinnati , OH
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THE QUESTION:
R384: Why do some African-American fraternities "brand" their members? As a white female, a brand reminds me of slavery.
POSTED JULY 27, 1998
Monica W., 31, white, Greensboro, NC

ANSWER 1:
This "branding" is nothing more than a form of tattooing, which has been an extremely popular practice in many, many cultures for centuries. It asserts the strength of one's volitional committment and allegiance to a particular body, set of concepts or ideology. The demeaning branding in slavery had no such lofty intents, but, like branding of animals, was a forced stamp signifying that an indiividual was not his own person but the property of another individual. The number of black males with fraternity tattoos dims in comparison to the thousands of white American males (and a large and growing number of white females) who have been tattooed for almost every conceivable reason.
POSTED SEPT. 19, 1998
F.L.W. <
110555.2423@compuserve.com>, Columbia, MD
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THE QUESTION:
GD31: I am a vegetarian. When I share this with meat eaters, I am often ridiculed or criticized. Why? I don't stand on a soapbox trying to convert folks, nor do I criticize others for their dietary habits.
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Zawadi, 33, black female, Detroit, MI

ANSWER 1:
Take it as a compliment. People who feel threatened by your vegetarianism are the ones who believe it is a morally superior position, and feel defensive about their own lack of adherence to it. (Though there may be an element of previous bad experiences with more in-your-face vegetarians as well.)
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Catherine, occasional carnivore <
tylik@eskimo.com>, Woodinville, WA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I suppose it depends on why you are a vegetarian and whether you share that with "meat eaters" (I prefer to consider myself an omnivore). I have found that vegetarians who advertise their dietary preference often do so for "soapbox" reasons, and it is these types I find to be the most hypocritical. For example, more than a few times I have listened to a soapbox vegetarian explain his/her stance to be one against the killing of animals for our convenience, often with contempt directed toward my own beliefs - and then I looked at their feet. Nine times out of 10, these people have been wearing leather shoes. I have no patience for such hypocrites. On the other hand, if a person claims to be a vegetarian for health reasons or for purely personal reasons - and leaves it at that - then I can respect that person's stance and can be fairly sure that mine will also be respected.
POSTED SEPT. 14, 1998
Stephen S., 31, omnivore , San Antonio , TX
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THE QUESTION:
R438: Why is it that many Indian people, both men and women, prefer to dress in the clothing of their traditional, historical culture? For example, Indian men seem to prefer not to have a necktie on when dressed, and Indian women prefer to dress in many forms of Sari, which are very beautiful. Is there a hidden meaning for that?
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Sue, Bangkok, Thailand

ANSWER 1:
I'm white but asked this same question of an Indonesian friend. She responded: "In my country this is the way everyone dressed. In your country you have blue jeans, mini-dresse, etc. I wear the clothing of my country because it is what I am used to and comfortable in. If you went to my country, wouldn't you still wear the clothes you wore in your country? Why should I be any different?" I hope this little incident helps you a little.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Regina W. <
reginak@clt-online.com>, Charlotte, NC

FURTHER NOTICE:
I had a wonderful learning experience related to this. I became friendly with a waiter at an Indian restaurant that I frequented. He was a Sikh, and when I expressed interest in his culture, he was very willing to share some fascinating information. On one occasion, I asked what was the significance of the two colors of cloth he used on his head wrap. He replied quite seriously that he chose the colors based on the colors of the shirt slacks he planned to wear that day! I had a good laugh, explaining to him that I had expected some religious or cultural explanation for the choice of colors.
POSTED SEPT. 14, 1998
Darbma, white/Northern European <
darbymom@hotmail.com>, New York , NY
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