Best of the Week
of Nov. 1,1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Nov. 1, 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:
O31: Can anyone in the fashion industry tell me why the runway models have such outrageous clothes that nobody would be caught dead in? The clothes on display by major designers never resemble anyting I see in public. Do people really buy that stuff, and where on earth do they wear it?
POSTED NOV. 6, 1998
R.J., Cincinnati, OH
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THE QUESTION:
RE110: I'm curious to know what the stance and actions of the Catholic Church were (publicly, politically, etc.) during slavery and the Holocaust.
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Eric, 37, African American <
ojoe@worldnet.att.net>, Chicago, IL

ANSWER 1:
Unfortunately, like most people, churches and institutions around the world, the Catholic Church accepted the institution of slavery, and did not begin to condemn the practice until long after it had largely disappeared. In fact, there were Catholic priests in the Southern United States who owned slaves. As for the Holocaust, the most generous interpretation is to say that the Catholic Church did not do as much as it could have or should have to help the Jews during the Nazi era. The Catholic Church certainly was not responsible for the Holocaust, and there were many Catholic clergy (including the Pope) and laypersons who took action to save numerous Jews. But on the whole, the Catholic Church did not do a great deal to prevent the Holocaust. A blanket condemnation of the Nazi regime and of anti-Semitism was called for, and to the shame of all Catholics, that never happened.
POSTED NOV. 6, 1998
Astorian, Irish-American Catholic <
Astorian@aol.com>, Austin, TX
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THE QUESTION:
G46: Why is it that in rural areas where people aren't crammed together there is less incidence of loneliness than in big cities, where people are found everywhere?
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
Ronald V., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

ANSWER 1:
One of the biggest problems is that all of the people in the cities are strangers. In rural areas, most people have made longstanding connections with each other because they have been there for generations. And the trend is that most rural residents are in large families that all work together to contribute to the community. The people standing elbow-to-elbow in the cities have no link or common bond. Their lives do not depend on each other even though they share the same streets. I have been fortunate enough to live in the epitome of both big city and rural village. Some of my most valued relationships came from the asphalt of city life; however, I sometimes feel that relationships that have come from a rural community have a lot more substance, and that members view life as too important to let their relationships stall. But I think it's also OK for people to be lonely every now and then.
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Big city girl turned cowgirl <
cbeam@gwe.net>, CO
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THE QUESTION:
RE106: Is it true that Southern Baptists do not believe in interracial dating and/or marriage? If so, why do they believe this?
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Peter, 22, black male, Ypsilanti, MI

ANSWER 1:
Yes, they do believe this. My wife is a former Baptist, and I have seen these opinions up close and personal. I have no idea why they believe this. My wife says that they claim the Bible says the races are not meant to be intermingled. This is similar to the argument they use with respect to homosexuality. Please note that this is just one example of their dated views. I recently saw on of the leaders of the Southern Baptists say that a woman's place is to be fully subservient to the male, in a marriage. Enlightenment is not on their side. I would not worry too much about this as they are a dying breed, they are losing once-strong footholds every day and their political influence is dwindling, as evidenced in the recent elections.
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
David, 29, in the heart of Baptist country <
dash@netside.com>, Columbia, SC

FURTHER NOTICE:
I'm a Southern Baptist and I believe in interracial dating/marriage. I've never been taught, through church or at home, to do anything but love all people. I do know of some Southern Baptists, however, who do not believe in interracial dating/marriage. They teach that it is a sin to mix races. I think it stems more from xenophobia than anything. It contradicts the way they've been raised for generations and must, therefore, be "wrong." God says love everyone, so to me, that says that anyone teaching hate is not a true believer in God.
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Whitney T., 19, Southern Baptist black female <
scrumpies@juno.com>, Oxford, MS

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I hate to tell you David, but in 1997 Southern Baptists posted all-time record-high membership, so we are not dwindling. It is true that most Southern Baptists frown on interracial relationships, but not all of us agree with that. I am proud to say I am Southern Baptist but at the same time I do not agree with everything the Southern Baptist Convention spouts out. As far as the subservient issue goes, there is much more to that than the media chose to report. That is a topic that is multifaceted and somewhat complicated when interpreted. No, they are not saying that we return to the "old days," when women had no place other than homemaker. More than anything, it was a call to men to become more involved in their roles as husbands, fathers and leaders.
POSTED NOV. 6, 1998
Melissa , Southern Baptist <
BSMSKSJSAS@aol.com>, Sand Springs, OK

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
According to the Holy Bible, anyone who states interracial dating/marriage is a sin contradicts Numbers 12. In this passage of scripture we read that Moses (leader of the children of Israel) was indeed married to a black woman (Ethiopian). We also read that when Miriam and Aaron (Moses' sister and brother) spake against Moses for marrying a black woman (verse one), God's anger was aroused against them (verse nine). All of this in the same book that Baptists preach, teach and live by. I believe the reason some Baptists feel interracial relationships are wrong is, in my opinion, that they have misinterpreted scripture. For example, in Judges 14, Samson (an Israelite) was not to marry a Philistine woman not because of her race/ethnicity, but because A) Philistines were an uncircumcised (ungodly) people (verse three), and B) God had plans to move against (fight) the Philistines (verse four). Note: In Numbers 12, some readers will wonder why Aaron was not punished with Miriam. I feel it is because Miriam started the arguments. That is why she is mentioned first in verse one.
POSTED NOV. 6, 1998
Alonzo C., 32, African American, Jacksonville, FL

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THE QUESTION:
A32: Why is it that a lot of younger people feel that hunting is wrong and immoral? If it's something your parents and grandparents have been doing for generations, could it possibly be that wrong?
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
R.J.B., MI

ANSWER 1:
My paternal ancestors lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Many of them hunted and fished for their food. Others were farmers who killed animals for food in the course of everyday life. I don't think hunting or killing animals in itself is necessarily wrong. I just don't understand making it a recreation. Some hunters say that the point is to get back to our wilderness roots, but why don't they just camp, or "hunt" with a camera? I feel "to hunt or not to hunt" is a personal choice. With all the violence in our world, I choose not to participate in a recreation that has at its center the killing of another living thing. Respect my values, and I will respect yours, even if I don't understand them.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
Stacee, 30, white female omnivore, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
Just because something has been practiced for many years does not make it moral or ethical. Our country also has a long history of racism that is shameful; it's been around for a long time and it's still not right. Years ago people hunted as a means of survival; they needed the meat and skins for their own nutrition and protection. Technology has eliminated the need for animal products for human survival (i.e. you can buy a warm coat at the store, fresh fruits and vegetables are available year-round). While hunting is far more humane than the more popular form of meat consumption - buying from stores - I think many young people have trouble understanding why anyone would endeavor to destroy a beautiful form of life. People who are bothered by hunting and still eat store-bought meat should look into where that meat comes from; it is a horrifcally cruel industry, far worse than hunting. As a fairly young person, I believe people who hunt do so because of the thrill of the kill, and that makes me question their general character. If it were just for sport or to control population, there are sterility darts that hunters can opt for, but very few do. Plus, many hunters use unfair means (like hungry dogs and spotlighting) that really take the sport out of hunting and reduce it once again to pure killing. I'm not trying to judge hunters, but this is the way I see the activity, so I hope this clears up some of your confusion.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
D.M.M., 24, white female <
donikam@hotmail.com>, Charleston, SC

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I think hunting is wrong and immoral because it is cruel, wasteful and pointless. So-called "sportsmen"' do not need to kill animals to survive; indeed, many "sportsmen'' kill merely for the ego-boost of killing an animal. How moral is that? As for the idea that something could be right simply because generations of people have done it, that's an argument without logic. Generations of people owned slaves. Is that right and moral? Generations of people believed in burning people of different religions at the stake. Is that moral and right? Past practice does not imply morality.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
Andrew, 34, vegetarian descendant of meat-eaters <
ziptron@xoommail.com>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
The mere fact that something has been done for generations does not make it right. After all, slavery used to be legal in the United States.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
Jerry, 65, white male, Tampa , FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I believe the reason some young people think hunting is wrong or immoral is that they have had easy lives, where all food came from a grocery store. Some of the same people who think it is wrong to kill an animal for food don't seem to mind eating steak prepared in a restaurant. As we all know, in the days before supermarkets, people had to hunt or grow their own food. Hunting is still cheaper than buying meat in a market, so for some people of limited means it is very practical. Also, when a person kills an animal food, that person tries to make a quick, clean kill, both to spare suffering of the animal and to preserve the quality of the meat. Some of the ways animals are killed in large commercial operations are a lot less humane and a lot more wasteful. To put it bluntly, I believe the young people you are referring to have led sheltered lives.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
White, female, Gen X-er, Northern California

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
This is a difficult issue. On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with hunting per se, especially when the hunting is done for the explicit purpose of obtaining food. On the other hand, many people kill purely for sport and neither eat nor keep the carcass, which to me is a disgusting waste. Why do this when you can get your food at the store, and when we as humans should realize the importance of respecting the natural world instead of going out and killing animals just because we can?
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Wendy, 24, white bisexual, semi-vegetarian <
wiebke@juno.com>, Atlanta , GA

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Why do people feel the need to pass judgment on what others do? Hunting, eating meat, not eating meat ... who cares? People are individuals and are free to make their own decisions and live with the consequences. And why do some people feel the need to seek approval of others for what they do? The fantasy that if we leave animals alone to roam and do as they wish may lead to over-population that results in starvation. Hunt if you want, do not hunt if you want, but try to respect the rights of others to make their own decisions.
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Jean, Native American of French and white descent, Westerly, RI

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THE QUESTION:
SO89: I am a 23-year-old college student who is about to move into my first house. My roommates are female and are a lesbian couple. I am straight and would just like to know what things I can say or shouldn't say when we live together. We have all hung out together, and they are the nicest people. I haven't even told my parents about them yet because I really don't think it's any of their business, and I'm not sure if I should. I think I have a pretty open mind, but I just don't want to step on anyone's toes.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Tia, 23, straight female <
tia.larue@mailcity.com>, Raleigh, NC

ANSWER 1:
What exactly are you worried about? Are you afarid you might say the wrong thing? Are you afraid they may try to come onto you? That you may catch them makin' out? Just because they are gay does not mean you should treat them any differently than any other couple you could have moved in with. There is, however, one important consideration you should keep in mind: That being your dates. You will find there may be two or three kinds of men: 1) Those who are not bothered and couldn't care less about the sexual nature of your roommates, 2) Those who will be very homophobic to the point where they could pose a problem for you or your roomies, and 3) Those obsessed with getting one or both of your roomies in bed because they think that we (lesbians) are a turn-on for straight guys. My sister is very clear to all the guys who show an interest in her that she has a gay sister and that if they have a problem with it, they can get lost. Some have walked, but they were not worth her time, anyway. Also, keep in mind that if your boyfriend does become obsessed with the sexual nature of your roomies, it is not your roomies fault. I'm not saying you would, but some girls feel it is the fault of the gay person rather than the stright dude who is obsessed. If a problem should arise, just deal with it as you would with any other coupled roomies. And you are right in not telling your parents. It is none of their business, and it is not your place to out your roommates to them. Good luck and relax. Just have fun, study hard ... and get good grades!
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Garet, 27, gay woman, St.Petersburg, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
This is a desision you will have to make, however I would like to disagree with the woman from St. Petersburg. I do not believe there is such a thing as a homopobe. Some of us do not believe this is a natural way of life, and neither do we fall for the lies of the liberal scientists. We must make judgment calls on everyone we hang around with. If we hang with thieves, we have a tendency to care a little less for the property of others; if we hang around druggies, we have a tendency to care a little less about the effects of dope. People who say, "I have an open mind" typically just want to be liked by others. I like myself very much, but I can't condone the acts of homosexuals, abortionists, wife beaters, or druggies. We have to dig inside of ourselves and not worry so much about stepping on someone's toes. By no means do I condone being mean, but we do not have to tolerate this type of behavior. To me, tolerance is acceptance, and acceptence is condoning.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
G.R.G., 33, male, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I disagree with both responses. Regardless of their sexuality, I question whether it's in your best interest to move in with a couple unless you're clearly renting from them. The most important point concerns issues in their relationship affecting the entire household. In addition, each person theoretically has an equal say in all house matters. Do you think this situation would promote that? I don't, but then I also don't know you or your potential roommates. However, I think it's something to take into consideration.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
D. Nichols, gay male, 34, Seattle, WA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
To G.R.G: If there is no such thing as a homophobe, then who is it that beats and kills gay people? I don't think it's people who merely don't condone homosexuality. I find your post, with its condemnation of tolerance, very frightening and anti-Christian, yet most people who think that way try to justify their thinking as somehow mandated by Christianity. The Jesus I know from the Bible hung around with thieves and prostitutes, and made a point of extending his love toward those who society deemed unworthy. To me, tolerance does not imply condoning something; it means a "Live and let live" attitude. Do you see how someone could be frightened by your remarks, and be left wondering what exactly you would feel it necessary to do to demonstrate your non-acceptance of homosexuality?
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
S.W., CA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Tia, I commend you for wanting to be sensitive. I would advise you to relax and take situations as they come. I always appreciate when my friends are honest with me, saying that they are feeling awkward about a situation and are not sure how to handle it. Then we can talk about it and go from there. I think the same thing would work for you. The mere fact that you are comfortable enough to move in the same house with them indicates you should do OK. Just keep those lines of communication open. And my opinion is that under no circumstances should you out them to anyone (your parents, houseguests, anyone). I know you didn't ask this as part of your question, but I feel strongly about it so I thought I would throw it in.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
Annie, 28, lesbian, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
To G.R.G.: It's a good thing Jesus didn't share your views on tolerance and acceptance. He'd never have made any headway with Mary Magdalene and all those other so-called "sinners'' he tolerated and accepted.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
Andrew, 34, straight <
ziptron@xoommail.com>, Huntington, NY
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THE QUESTION:
GE89: To women: When you ask a man out on a date, shouldn't you pay for it? Please respond only if you have asked a man out.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
B.A.W., 28, black male, Atlanta, GA

ANSWER 1:
I think if a woman asks a man out, she should be responsible for the planning and financing of the date. When I ask someone out, I see it as an opportunity to do something nice for both of us. When a man asks me out, I often offer to pay for my part of the meal, tickets, etc. If he wants to pay for everything, I will allow him to do so, because he deserves the same nice feeling I get when I'm the one "footing the bill." What I'm wondering is, how did the woman (women) ask you out? Was she straightforward, or was she manipulating you because she wanted you to give her a good time? If she was trying to manipulate you, then I think you have a deeper question to answer than who pays for what. If you want to continue relationships with women who ask, then don't pay, perhaps you could let them know what you expect before you accept another date with them.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
S.C., Southern woman who has asked men out, Rock Hill, SC

FURTHER NOTICE:
The common practice here in the Bay Area is that whoever does the asking pays for the first date. After that, different arrangements can be made based on various factors such as whether one person makes a lot more money than the other, how expensive the date is, etc. Basically, it's a topic that needs to be discussed between the two people since the old traditions no longer apply.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
Sara, Oakland, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
When I extend an invitation to a man, I pay, just as I expect him to when he asks me out. If there is any doubt, ask her particularly if it's the first time. Certainly, you have enough tact and communication skills to make this a simple inquiry. For me, if we have gone out several times, and I can't pay but want to see him, I ask if we can go Dutch. But, I never ask a first date to take me out and pay for it. Instead, if I want him to pay, I wait for him to make the offer. I also buy flowers for a guy and cook him dinners (and serve it to him), so maybe I'm not the norm.
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Zawadi, black female, 33, Detroit, MI

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THE QUESTION:
RE104: What's the difference (if any) between being Islamic and being Muslim, and how does The Koran relate to the two? Or are they the same but just separated by geography?
POSTED OCT. 13, 1998
Dan, 41 <
drodrigu@tkc.att.ne.jp>, Tokyo, Japan

ANSWER 1:
The words "Islam" and "Muslim" are related to the same Arabic root word as "salam," which means "peace" or "salvation." Islam is the name Allah gives in al-Qur'an (the Koran) to the religion that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the Seventh Century. The word "Islam" refers to the peaceful surrender one makes upon accepting that Allah is the sole God and Muhammad is God's prophet. A "Muslim" is one who has made that surrender to God. Therefore, "Islam" (surrender) is the noun that corresponds to "Muslim" (surrendered or submitted.) "Islamic" is an adjective that refers to the religion. Incidently, the religion is never called Muhammadism or Mohammedism, and "Moslem" is a poor transliteration of the Arabic word now usually rendered as Muslim.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
C.J.L. <
ProfMokita@aol.com>,W. Bloomfield , MI
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THE QUESTION:
R494: I would like to know people's perceptions about why Asian men in general, and Chinese men in particular, are seen as unattractive as mates.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Joe C., Chinese, Fremont, CA

ANSWER 1:
I have to disagree with you. I have never thought Asian men were unattractive. I guess the only problem for me is that I am very tall and have a large build, and I haven't met many Asian people in my life that match my build.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Anonymous, female, London, England

FURTHER NOTICE:
I am unaware of any desire among those I know to avoid dating Asian males. As for other friends, I am aware of a tendency/desire to date those of a similar ethnicity. We've discussed this and have come to the conclusion that it is a matter of familiarity and perhaps an ingrained preference for those who look like you and your closest connections, your family. In addition, I was brought up in a predominantly white city with limited interactions with other races. I think the more important issue is cultural difference rather than racial difference. One connects more readily with another of similar sentiments and lifestyle.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
Ryan H., 23, Scandinavian Canadian <
ryanhy@tbaytel.net>, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I do not think anyone perceives Asian men as undesirable. The problem for Asian men is that, for various reasons, white males often think of Asian women as "exotic" or as "forbidden fruit" and find this very attractive. Many white males are also turned on by the ridiculous notion that Asian women are docile and servile (some of my best friends are Asian-American women, and believe me, none of them is a humble, submissive Geisha girl!). And many Asian females think that dating or marrying white males gives them more social status. Thus, Asian-American men, without doing anything wrong, may find themselves alone, and wondering "Where'd the Asian women go? And why aren't they interested in us any more"?
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
Astorian <
Astorian@aol.com>, Austin, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
It has been mentioned in other postings on the Y? Forum that there is a stereotype of Asian men having small penises. Like all stereotypes, it is true in some cases and false in many. It would be my guess that this stereotype is the reason for Asian men, in general, being seen as unattractive mates.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
B., 23, white male, Kokomo, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
You probably did not intend to direct your query toward a gay WASP male from the South, but here goes. I find Asian men in general very attractive. I have been fortunate enough to date more than a couple of incredibly beautiful, exotic Asian (Chinese, I might add) men who fairly ooze with sexual energy, intelligence and masculinity. And while we're at it, my female straight friends have consistently oooohed and aaaaahed over them. I don't know where you're dredging up this misguided self-appraisal, but get over it and get back out there.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
Michael, 39, gay white male, 39, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
As a European-American woman who has dated Asian (Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino) men, I would have to disagree with you. All three of these men did express to me their frustration with the way they believe Americans perceive common Asian physical traits. But I had no need to hold them up against an "Anglo" standard of good looks. I found the men I dated very attractive as individuals; for their looks, appearance and personality combined.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
Gypsy, white female, 34, St Louis, MO

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I have some friends who were talking about this, and they were saying that Asian men were often physically attractive, but they were worried about cultural differences. There is a perception that Asian men will be even more chauvanistic and sexist toward their mates than most men, simply because that is the prevailing attitude in Asia. My friend said she'd be happy to date an Asian guy for fun and companionship, but not as a prospective husband because of this.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
20, female, Houston , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I agree and disagree with the poster's assumptions. Asian men are receiving more acceptance from non-Asian females as time goes on. But the response "I don't find Asian men unattractive" does not answer the main question. Of course, most females would not outright find an Asian man ugly. But most women in the United States are looking for a man with blue eyes who is tall and has a larger build, or who resembles a popular and attractive male movie star or athlete. Asian men will never have blue eyes, are genetically predisposed to be shorter than most white men and tend not to be large and burly. We also have less body hair than most other men. Right now, no matter how successful we may be in the United States, we are still generally under-represented in the media. In short, it does not help to say "I don't find Asian men ugly; I just prefer a guy who has blonde hair." We live in a sexually competitive world. What I want, as an Asian man, is to be attractive to myself and not have to live up to standards of white males. I shouldn't have to.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
David L., 25, Asian-American, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I have always thought Asians were physically beautiful and wonderfully attractive, but I have never had the sense that an Asian male was attracted to me. I never received (or perceived) the signals of interest that I received from other men. As a result, Asian males have received smiles from me, but little else, because I didn't know how to approach them or if they even wanted me to do so. Perhaps some of the distance is simply misunderstanding the wants and intentions of each other. By the way, I am a fairly tall, blond woman, but I have never used height or coloring to judge a person. I have to believe that many other people function the same way I do.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
S., 44, SC

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
David L. makes a good point as to how most American women are socialized to believe that the typical Anglo blue-eyed, blond-haired, tall and muscular male is the most attractive, and that Asians are underrepresented in the media. The few representations that do exist are often negative, further feeding into stereotypes about Asians. This does not mean, however, that all American women find Chinese men unattractive; it all really boils down to finding the qualities that one holds dear to her that makes the other person seem to be the most attractive person in the world. By the way, my fiance is half-Chinese, he is a marvelous man and he is gorgeous!
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Miriam, 23 <
mcvidal@prodigy.net>, NY
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THE QUESTION:
R501: Some African Americans, in the Y? Forum and in the media, express anger over being "forced here" through slavery. Yet it was their ancestors, not them, who were enslaved. Are there African Americans today who would really rather live in Africa (Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, etc.) than in America, even if slavery could be erased from history?
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
B., 22, white male, Kokomo, IN

ANSWER 1:
I am well aware of all of the terrible things that have happened to our people here in America. But I can still say that this is the greatest country in the world. When you hear Africa Americans complain about being "forced here," they are not expressing a desire to be living somewhere else. More accurately, they are venting about what went along with being forced here (the forcing of a new culture/language/religion upon their ancestors, not to mention the many other evils). Now, in the case of speculating about what Africa would be like if slavery had never happened, in that case, yes I would rather be in Africa with my original language and culture. Contrary to still-popular beliefs, Africa had plenty of culture before the slave traders/colonists arrived. They were not illiterate pagans wandering around in the jungle. They had text books, scientists and monotheism. But that is a whole different story.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
B.A.W., 28, black male <
bluebox7@hotmail.com>, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE:
Very good question. Personally, my anger comes not necessarily from my ancestors having been forced from their home, but the destruction of cultural ties. Most Americans can identify their heritage (whether or not they know who their ancestors are), but most Americans of African descent can neither identify ancestors nor culture that has been passed through the generations. Much of our culture today is based on our existence in this country. Once in a discussion over ancestry (I was the only one of African descent), I commented that I could only trace back three generations as records of Africans were rare. The discussion suddenly ended. I explained that this was simply a fact of life for many people of African descent. It goes to show that even though slavery ended more than 100 years ago, it still affects us today. Maybe my anger would subside the day that there is a day celebrated like St. Patrick's Day, except for Africans.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
D. Nichols, 34, Seattle , WA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Unfortunately, what is perceived as complaining is actually frustration related to navigating in a society that's neither compassionate nor responsible in its dealings with you as an ancestor of a culture this country was built on the backs of. No one is saying they don't want to be here, just "do unto me as you would have me do unto you." Is that really so hard?
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Black male, Akron, OH

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THE QUESTION:
R481: To me, many people of Middle Eastern and Indian background tend to have offensive body odor. Is there a cultural reason for this?
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
Darrell E., 56, white, Camarillo, CA

ANSWER 1:
I am a non-Indian woman who has studied, lived and related to people of Indian origin and never smelled this odor you are describing. I can say I have come across the "smells" of tumeric, cardamon, cumin and hing, all spices used in typical Indian dishes. And, since most Indian households still cook and eat homemade ethnic meals, perhaps you came across some Indians who had just eaten a fabulous feast. I would urge you to give it a taste and find out for yourself. By the way, Indians bathe daily and use deodorant. Matter of fact, speaking about Hindu Indians, they have religious dogma that requires them to bathe before their daily pujas/prayers. So any idea of a body odor because of not bathing is false. Going a step further, my fiance, an Indian, gets complimented often on his choice of men's fragrance.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Jenny S., 29, white-female <
ganga@netrox.net>

FURTHER NOTICE:
I have noticed that most of the Indian people I know have an odor different from my own (we all have odors) and that their smell is similar to one another. Their houses have a similar odor as well. I have gotten used to the smell and now it doesn't strike me as much. It is a smell akin to mothballs, I think. Perhaps it is part of their diet or a smell from food being cooked in the house. I have felt very guilty for noticing this and for feeling it was an undesirable smell, but I have to tell the truth. It does not affect our friendship or our interactions. It is just one part of the picture. Perhaps I smell strange to them as well.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
Ryan H., 23, Scandinavian Canadian <
ryanhy@tbaytel.net>, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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THE QUESTION:
D29: I have a friend who is very obese and getting larger every year. We're worried he's going to go the way of the late John Candy. He's only 26. How do we approach him about our concerns and fears without offending him? I used to be overweight myself, and the last thing I needed was someone telling me so because I knew it already. None of us want him to die or even come close to it.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Worried, Detroit, MI

ANSWER 1:
My wife has the same problem. My words didn't convince her. Neither did the doctor's suggestion that she lose some weight. But when the doctor checked her blood pressure and told her that if she didn't do something about it, and lose weight, she wouldn't have that problem for long, my wife woke up. No, she hasn't lost a lot. It is a slow descent of eating healthy. Diets won't work. But a change in lifestyle will. Unfortunately, eating can be an emotional friend. Perhaps your friend has some real unmet emotional needs that you might be able to meet by listening and affirming him.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
A. Urban <
draugas@mailcity.com>, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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