Best of the Week
of Oct. 7, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Oct. 7, 2001, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s database using the search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the 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:

Last year, I would go to a grocery store across the street from my high school to get some lunch. This market would make students wait in line, and then let each student enter one at a time. While students and anyone who would look under 18 would be kept waiting, older people could freely enter. When I asked them why they did this, they said it was because of the high amount of shoplifting going on. I felt very offended that they would think that just because I am teenager, I must shoplift. Is this discrimination based on age? Is there anything I could do to stop this age profiling?

POSTED 10/9/2001

John, Santa Barbara, CA, United States, 18, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Student, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 108200185536

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Question:

For men who regularly dress in women's clothing - why do you do it? What do you get from doing it?

POSTED 10/7/2001

Benny, Swindon, NA, United Kingdom, Female, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1072001112537

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Question:

How do all you white men feel about dating black women? I'd especially like to hear comments from Scandinavian guys.

POSTED 10/9/2001

Lili, Helsinki, NA, Finland, 18, Female, Atheist, Caucasian/ African, Straight, student, Middle class, Mesg ID 108200124924

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Question:

Why do African-American women and girls scream so much, or talk so loud? I'm a teacher, and sometimes I can hardly think in class because my African-American girls are so loud. Also, they are so quick to jump to conclusions and get really defensive about everything.

POSTED 10/9/2001

Gina, Loves Park, IL, United States, Female, Mesg ID 108200144144

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Question:

What do people from other countries think of Americans? Is there a "stereotypical American"? Do they envy Americans or hate them?

POSTED 10/3/2001

Ryan, Iowa City, IA, United States, 19, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 103200171852


Responses:
I admire Americans for their optimism and positive, can-do attitude. However, Americans seem very insular. They often know little about the rest of the world, leading them to make sweeping statements like 'America is the freeist country in the world,' as if the whole of Europe was a dictatorship, rather than a liberal continent with far less movie and art censorship and much less Draconian laws regarding alcohol. When I visited America, I was surprised by how much my freedom was compromised compared to Britain. People outside America tend to judge Americans on three things: TV shows, visiting tourists and your foreign policy. As far as the latter is concerned, Bush's refusal to sign the Kyoto Agreement made America sound like it didn't care about the rest of the world and cared only about itself. No amount of humanitarian aid overseas can compensate for this, or the uncountable damage from floods and other effects of global warming. Perhaps people see America as the richest neighbor on the street, who has an expensive car they leave running all night. When people complain that the exhaust is choking the rest of the street, America accuses them of being jealous of the car.

POSTED 10/4/2001

A. Ryan, London, NA, United Kingdom, 26, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 104200144623


The German stereotype (negative) of Americans is: boisterous, noisy, incredibly self-centred, Puritan/hypocritical, chauvinistic (patriotism tends to get read as chauvinism by other countries), politically domineering and completely ignorant of other cultures, or indeed of any culture. Foreign languages are alien, history is a word they heard some time at school, and tolerance is not a strong point, it being - with China - the place widely known for its death penalty. The German stereotype of Americans (positive) is: daringly creative, extroverted, kind, with a good sense of humor, patriotic and involved in community life. Still, somewhat naive. As you see, the negative sides are stronger and more varied, so there is a widespread, sometimes unacknowledged antagonism toward and suspicion of Americans. Ah yes, I forgot, part of the 'no culture' stereotype is that they lack taste and thus easily fall for kitsch and tackiness, the louder the merrier.

POSTED 10/4/2001

T., Munich, NA, Germany, 32, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 104200184631


I'm sorry, but I can't see a reason to envy you. In many European countries, you are thought to be stupid, mainly because the example of an American we most see is your president. In the Middle East, Americans are quite hated because of the United States' interfering in conflicts there. My own stereotypical view of an American is someone wearing jeans and a t-shirt going to McDonalds to buy a Big Mac and Diet Coke.

POSTED 10/4/2001

Lauri, Helsinki, NA, Finland, Female, Mesg ID 1042001103231


My experience as an American traveling in other countries has been very positive. I travel for my work, so I have had the opportunity to work with people overseas as well as to be a tourist. I have found that, as an American, it is very easy to meet people because they seem interested in talking to me because I am American. I have heard similar reports from other Americans travelling overseas. I think there are those all over the world who hate Americans for various reasons, but they are not in the majority. Just as there are those in the United States who hate people from other countries, but those people are by no means in the majority.

POSTED 10/7/2001

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 105200150740


Some adjectives that have come up when talking about Americans: naive, self-centered, enterprising, self-confident, old-fashioned, patriotic, superficial... It feels like the American people live in a bubble, unable to see the surrounding world too well. Sometimes it feels funny how you consider yourself the greatest nation in the world, when you have so much poverty, uneducated people, a bad healthcare system, violence, inequality... I don't think people over here envy or hate Americans. It's more about being amused. Stereotypical American? Loud, wears sneakers with everything, has a big, white smile and loves small talk. I think that's the American tourist stereotype.

POSTED 10/9/2001

Saana, Espoo, NA, Finland, 28, Female, Lutheran, White/Caucasian, Straight, hydraulics/ sales, Technical School, Mesg ID 105200131729

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Question:

To people of various backgrounds: Are there any types of music, practices or lifestyle activities that you would like to do or be a part of but feel you can't because of your culture?

POSTED 10/3/2001

Natalie W., Sale, NA, Australia, <natnat50@hotmail.com>, Female, Mesg ID 102200122403

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Question:

Are there any white, non-Middle Eastern Americans who have converted to Islam, not because of having a Muslim spouse, but simply because they became convinced it was the one true religion? And are there any native-born, white, non-Middle Eastern American Muslim families? I realize that many American blacks (and some Hispanics) have converted to Islam, and some American whites convert to Islam influenced by a Muslim spouse, but otherwise? Many Americans have converted to traditional Roman Catholicism (myself included) and Eastern Orthodoxy - both rather exotic faiths when taken literally and not adapted to the times - for reasons unrelated to ethnicity or marriage, and I am curious about whether any have done similarly with Islam.

POSTED 10/3/2001

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 41, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 102200123843


Responses:
The only 'white' Muslim I can think of is not American, he's English. Cat Stevens, the famous folk singer of the 1970s, converted in a very public way in the early 1980s. I know there are a tiny number of American Indians who have converted to Islam. They became interested in the faith because of the claims of some Muslim historians that Muslim navigators came to the Americas before the Europeans. These same historians also claim the Cherokees have had Muslim chiefs and the Iroquois traditions are influenced by Islam. As far as I know, no other historians take these claims as credible, and the claims contradict every native oral history tradition around. I was also curious when you said some Latinos have converted to Islam, because I have never seen or heard of any. Are these Latinos with black or Arab ancestry? (There are a few Arab Latinos, like Carlos Menem the president of Argentina.)

POSTED 10/7/2001

A.C.C., Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Grad student in history, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 107200111646


I have been considering taking the formal step of 'converting' to Islam and discussing this with my husband, who is Catholic (non-practicing). I learned about and studied Islam in college. My mother (Catholic) told us at a young age that rather than forcing a religion on us, she would allow us to find our own faith. After experiencing several Christian denominations, and later, in college, other faiths, I somehow felt a kinship with Islam. I later visited Jordan and lived with a Muslim host family for a few months. For the last 10 years or so, I have been something of a 'closet' Muslim - meaning I follow the faith and belive in it, but I do not go to Mosque or announce myself as a Muslim. It was never very important to me to declare myself to the world. However, now that my husband and I are ready to have a baby, we are discussing what faith our child should have and how to make our different faiths workable with children involved.

POSTED 10/9/2001

Misho, Las Vegas, NV, United States, 36, Female, Soon-to-be Muslim, White/Caucasian, Straight, Analyst, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 108200111538

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Question:

Why do Afghanistan women have to cover their faces?

POSTED 9/30/2001

Penny M., Melbourne, NA, Australia, Female, Mesg ID 928200164803

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