Best of the Week
of Nov. 15, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Nov. 15, 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:
GD49: To people of all classes and races: What do you think is the real meaning of success in your life?
POSTED NOV. 21, 1998
Cynthia H. <
yukofujita@hotmail.com>, San Francisco, CA
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THE QUESTION:
SO98: To straight people: If one of your favorite movie stars came out as gay, would that affect you, and if so, how?
POSTED NOV. 21, 1998
Lance B., male, San Mateo , CA
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THE QUESTION:
R119: As a white male living in the South, the often-times ugly racial history of my region is constantly brought up. I honestly feel relations between blacks and whites are better in this part of the country than anywhere else. I hope this is because the races have had to work and coexist together here longer - even though not always in the right way. What do black Southerners think who have traveled around, and what do other folks from other parts of the country think?
POSTED MARCH 31, 1998
Wallace, Southern-American, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I had the misfortune of having a layover in the Atlanta airport just as O.J. was being run to the ground in his Bronco. I was in a cafe filled with white people and serviced by blacks. I don't know how many of these people were from the South, but I assume the majority. The interplay between the blacks and whites in the room was far more interesting than the one playing out on the TV. The glee in the expressions and postures of the whites grew more evident as the chase wore on, as did the distress of the blacks. The truly amazing part was that the whites didn't even notice the effect this event was having on the blacks in the room. The looked right through them as if they were somehow unreal or fixtures of the room itself. I have encountered prejudice before in the North and the West. I have even met members of the Klan whose ancestors fought for the Union, but that scene in the cafe was surreal. Eventually, one of the waitresses broke down and started screaming and crying at the crowd, and looking at me for support, which I gave as best I could. The rest seemed oblivious as to the source of this blatant breach of social etiquette. Based on this experience, I would suggest that the peculiar attitude of the South toward race is alive and well.
POSTED NOV. 21, 1998
Kevin, 28, white male <
hotemet@aol.com>, AZ
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THE QUESTION:
O36: I am a white 43-year-old female who has taught preschool for about 20 years. Why is the occupation of teaching young children so low-paying? In my humble opinion, it is a highly skilled and sometimes stressful (though rewarding) job. Is the pay low solely because early childhood education is pretty much a tradionally female occupation? Or perhaps does the low pay pertain to society's low value of children? I'm told that good childcare is expensive. I teach at a very good preschool, but I do not think anyone in particular is pocketing much money.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Cil, 43, white female <
Cil@AOL.com>, Denver, CO

ANSWER 1:
Normally most salaries are figures that are economically justified. This is usually based on the laws of supply and demand. Economically justified does not mean importance of the job to society. If it did, then policemen, firemen, teachers and members of the military, for example, would all have high-paying jobs because they are all vital to our society. On the same note, professional atheletes and musicians would not command the salaries they do because they are not essential for society. However, professional atheletes and entertainers generate lots of money and economic activity. In other words, many people make money off their talents. Conversely, in the case of child-care workers, teachers, military personnel, policemen, etc., very little economic activity is generated by their activities and talents. I'm not saying this is fair or idealistic. It is just the economic facts of life.
POSTED NOV. 21, 1998
Al, 38, male <
alan@adler.net>, Jacksonville, NC
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THE QUESTION:
RE95: Do Jewish people prefer to be called "Jewish" or "Jews"? To me the word "Jew" just sounds derogatory, and I prefer to call Jewish people Jewish.
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
Whitney T., 19, black female <
wkthomps@olemiss.edu>, Oxford, MS

ANSWER 1:
Considering some of the less-attractive alternatives, I don't have a problem with either of the choices. It's really more of a grammatical issue - "Jew'' is a noun and "Jewish'' is an adjective.
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Andrew, 34, Jewish (or a Jew, take your pick) <
ziptron@hotmail.com>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
I feel Jew sounds derogatory and Jewish people does not. I am Jewish and have often lived and worked among non-Jewish people. The word Jew always sends chills up my spine. Why? I'm not sure. It's a gut reaction. I think if I have to analyze my feeling further, I'd say it's because all the derogatory adjectives precede the term Jew and not Jewish person. Dirty Jew is impersonal. If you said "You're a dirty Jewish person," it would sound silly or too personal, and you just wouldn't say it.
POSTED OCT. 13, 1998
Lorie, Jewish female whose mother was born Christian Scientist, New York, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Strictly speaking, I don't think the word "Jew" is inherently derogatory. What matters, of course, is the context the word is placed in. That being said, I would echo the previous comment. I also have this "gut" feeling the word "Jew," especially when used alone without any adjectives, at least "sounds" potentially sinister. For example, the sentence "Jeff is Jewish" seems much more pleasant to me than the more ominous sounding "Jeff is a Jew" (at least it sounds ominous to me). On the other hand, a sentence like "Jeff is an Orthodox Jew" seems perfectly all right with me because there is a benign adjective (besides, you can't say "Orthodox Jewish"). Again, I think it's important to focus on the context. I believe the concern over the use of the word "Jew" has more to do with the historical context it's been used in and the tone that has often gone along with its utterance, rather than the word itself.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Mihir, Indian/Jain, 25 <
mishah@vt.edu>, Skokie, IL
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THE QUESTION:
R354: I have noticed a number of younger African Americans wearing knee-high pantyhose on their heads. I would like to know why this is done, and where this trend came from.
POSTED JUNE 24, 1998
Jason <
microft@westol.com>, Washington, D
C

ANSWER 1:
I'm not exactly sure where this latest trend came from for young black men, especially when you consider all the fashion designers who have their signature models of these caps. However, black women have used them for ages. They come in really handy for keeping hair neat and in place while you're sleeping. I used them when I was a kid. We'd take a pair of new pantyhose, cut off most of the legs, tie what was left of the legs into a knot and stretch the seat area over our heads. We called them "stocking caps."
Denise, 27, black, Bronx, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
This trend dates back to the days of pirates, when men wore "scullies" to protect their hair from the enviroment (wind, rain, saltwater). Also, it was a way of controlling their hair without a lot of grooming. This later evolved into the wave cap and "do rag," where black men would put hair-processing ingredients to condition, put waves or straighten their hair at a time in history when this was the trend. Now it's more for putting waves or a fashion statement of the black male.
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
E. White, 43, Afro American, Fairless Hills, PA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
My son's friend (both 14-year-old white males) said that my son could get his hair to be a stickup, flat-top style by wearing a stocking over his hair while he slept. We never could quite figure out how to get the stocking on right, though.
OCT. 26, 1998
Barbara S. <
sudek@worldnet.att.net>, Las Vegas, NV

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
The apparent root of this fashion rage is a bit more sinister in its origin. Among the vast numbers of African-American males populating the nation's correctional facilities is a significant number of men who are or claim to be Muslim. I'm not sure if you've ever noticed, but there is a specific type of cap these men (as do many Muslim men) wear, at least for praying. Since caps of this type are not readily available in prison, the Muslim inmates improvised by sewing up underpants. No kidding. And, as is the case with much of contemporary black culture, unfortunately, yet another fashion trend for our young males sprouted from the criminal subculture. The really sad part is that the (white-owned and operated) fashion design companies are reaping the profits of this not-so-subtle degradation. And, as usual, the shepherdless sheep among our youth empty their pockets for it.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Samuel H., 30, African-American male <
samalex67@aol.com>, Chicago, Il
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THE QUESTION:
R527: Why do Native Americans live almost exclusively on reservations?
POSTED NOV. 17, 1998
D. Price <
abqteachr@netscape.net>, Albuquerque, NM
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THE QUESTION:
RE71: Why don't Zoroastrians permit new converts?
POSTED JUNE 26, 1998
John, Chicago, IL

ANSWER 1:
This question requires clarification. Hopefully what I'm saying is accurate since I don't follow Zoroastrianism. My understanding is that specifically Parsis do not permit conversion. Parsis are the decendants of Zoroastrians who fled from Persia (present-day Iran) about 1,000 years ago due to persecution from the Muslim regime then in power there. The Parsis arrived on the west coast of India at Sanjan, and as one of the conditions of acceptance into Indian/Hindu society, the local king proclaimed that the Parsis should not convert anyone. I believe this is recorded in the Parsi chronicle called the Kissah-i-Sanjan. However, I don't think Zoroastrians who remained in Persia were ever against conversion, although the religion has never actively prostelytized. Thus, at least in the West, it seems there is disagreement and debate between "Parsi" Zoroastrians and "Iranian" Zoroastrians over conversion.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Mihir, Indian/Jain, 25 <
mishah@vt.edu>, Skokie, IL
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THE QUESTION:
GE88: Why do most women find male exhibition disgusting, if not criminal, while most men find women showing off their bodies to be very intriguing? Men seem to welcome a woman's public display of skin, but women view a man as perverted if he displays any "private" area of his body in public.
POSTED OCT. 29, 1998
R.J., Cincinnati, OH

ANSWER 1:
I think it depends on the context of the display. If it controlled by the woman (e.g. Chippendale's-type clubs), I don't believe that all (or even most) women are bothered. There are probably some women who have been socialized to feel this public display is disgusting, but they'd probably feel that way about a woman's public display, too. However, if the display is controlled by the man (e.g., a flasher), in my opinion, there is an element of intimidation involved. I don't believe the flasher is saying "look how sexy I am," but rather "I can do this to you and you can't do anything about it." I don't think most women are offended by the display so much as threatened by it. I have had this discussion with my husband, when some friends of ours were flashed while out walking in the park. He couldn't understand why they were so upset about "a prank." I could (and can) only explain that it doesn't "feel" like a prank, it "feels" like a threat! In a diversity class I attended, the women listed things the didn't like about being a woman (and the men did the same about being men). One of the things was "being prey." A lot of the men laughed when this was read in the class - not viciously, but because they didn't realize the depth of feeling involved.
POSTED NOV. 17, 1998
Janon, 38, female <
janon_rogers@hp.com>, Lebanon, OR
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THE QUESTION:
R524: To people of all races: In your opinion, would it be good for the United States to have an African-American president (female or male), and what would be the benefits and drawbacks if one were elected?
POSTED NOV. 17, 1998
D. Price <
abqteachr@netscape.net>, Albuquerque, NM

ANSWER 1:
Overall it would be positive, just as Kennedy's election laid to rest some of the Catholic stigma in the United States. One concern is that assassination attempts are common (Truman, Kennedy, Ford, Reagan, someone with an automatic weapon outside the White House and another inside the Capitol recently, a pilot crashing a small plane at the White House, etc.), and a random nutcase shooting at a black president could prove very divisive in the short run. Long term, a good thing.
POSTED NOV. 21, 1998
B. Hale, white <
halehart@aol.com>, Hartford, CT
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THE QUESTION:
A33: Why is it that people are required to have a license in order to drive and to hunt, and you must be 18 to vote, but anyone may have a child? What do people think about passing a law that made reproducing a privilege, and what would be the impact?
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Julia S., 17, female <
ming_tea9@hotmail.com>, Sutter Creek, CA
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THE QUESTION:
R519: I've read different news articles recently about how African Americans see nothing wrong with President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, and reject traditional morals. Do African Americans really feel differently than whites about the issues of marital fidelity and truthfulness? I'm not racist, I just want to know.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Lou F., 40, white male <
lflum@iac.net>, Cincinnati, OH

ANSWER 1:
I am a little surprised by this question, namely why it was let out on the Y? Forum. I am a white person who sees nothing wrong with Clinton's affair, and to assume that all African Americans condone or even think in a block on this topic is racist. Is it the assumption that all whites are condemning and want him out, and thus how could blacks be so different? I think you know what you are trying to say, but you don't have the courage to face your own feelings of anger over the Clinton/Republican/Starr thing.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Matthew, 40ish, white, gay, New York, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think the difference lies in that African Americans view the issue as one of hypocrisy, not morality. Further, I feel we as African Americans have developed a keen sensitivity to double standards and phony righteousness. Our history as the objects of such treatment makes it difficult not to sympathize with a person being subjected to the kind of mean-spirited scrutiny that has marked the Starr persecution. We most certainly don't condone infidelity, or other moral transgressions. However, perhaps the more relevant moral issue we see is "Let he who is without sin throw the first stone."
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
S.F., male, black <
sfinley@wans.net>, Naperville, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am an African American, or black American, or Negro, whatever, from Cincinnati. We both know just how extremely conservative this city is and its thinking. So let me try to give you my opinion. What the President did was much more than just extremely stupid. It was not something black people see as good or proper behavior. Infidelity is a bad thing, no matter who does it. But it has been so very long since black people have found a President willing to listen, and what you hear and see is black people trying to protect their political interest. Every President has done something to been impeached for, it's just that President Clinton was told on by an immature 21-year-old who was recorded by someone looking to get the goods on a President she feels should be removed. If you look at the previous two Presidents, you can point them directly to drug trafficking, through support of the Contras. There were no tape recordings of the specifics, thus Reagan and Bush got away with it, and those drugs were sold right here in America. I found that white Americans flocked to the defense of Reagan, just as blacks to the defense of Clinton. I think drug trafficking is far, far worse than any amount of infidelity. It is not a matter of morality, Christian beliefs or fidelity. It is a matter of politics, power and influence. And after President Carter, black people had to wait 12 long years to have any kind of influence with a President. And President Clinton has hired more blacks into his Presidency than any other President in history. I think black people will overlook a lot to maintain this. There are far worse things a President could have done. Even the great Ike had a mistress, along with Roosevelt, Kennedy and many others, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. People will just be human...
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Tony, 43, black American male, <
cinatisoulman@mailexcite.com>, Cincinnati, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Lou, be careful not to believe everything you read in the papers. African Americans are just as diverse in their thinking and opinions as any other ethnic group. Without attempting to speak for the entire African-American community, I will say that some (including myself) have chosen to separate the sin from the job. While Mr. Clinton did lie about his sexual encounters with Ms. Lewinsky, I submit to you that that has nothing to do with the price of tea in China; that is, his job performance. I also ask how many other public servants, if their own sex lives were publicly scrutinized, would walk away clean? I suspect that both sides of the aisle at the Capitol would require some 409 to remove the stains! As for the moral issue, it is precisely why I, and perhaps other African Americans, support Mr. Clinton. As the scripture goes, "Let he without sin cast the first stone." Many Americans are quick to stand in moral judgment, but refuse to look in the mirror and acknowledge their own daily transgressions.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
R. Mitchell <
rdm2@vwarch.com>, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Lou, it sounds like the articles you've been reading were written by someone trying to stir the pot of ignorance and miseducation (fancy that happening in the political arena). As an African American who was raised as a strict Christian, I feel Clinton's actions were immoral and wrong. However, under the laws of our nation, they were not illegal and therefore not subject to questioning in a legal forum. As to African Americans feeling differently about marital infidelity and truthfulness, consider that for generations many blacks have accepted that Sally Hemmings was not only Thomas Jefferson's slave, but also his mistress and the father of (at least) one of his children. Whites traditionally have denied this fact (recently proven through DNA analysis) out of hand, reasoning that so great an architect of freedom and democracy (in spite of engaging in the most obvious contradiction of enslaving his fellow human beings) could never stoop to such philandering. The point is that blacks value truthfulness and fidelity just as much as anyone, but perhaps we recognize that all humans, great and small, are capable of cheating and lying about it, and we aren't in a hurry to throw stones from inside glass houses (a la Henry Hyde and Dan Burton).
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Sam, 30, male, brown American <
SamAlex67@aol.com>, Chicago, Il

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
As an African-American woman, I support President Clinton. That support does not mean I have abandoned traditional morals or believe Clinton's behavior was acceptable. It was clearly not right to cheat on his wife. The reason he gets my support is that he is being attacked by people who are not "without sin" themselves. Look at the Republicans who condemned him and then were revealed to have had affairs years before. Look at the revelations about Starr's contact with Paula Jones' attorneys and the appearance of collusion in his selection as a replacement for the "not rabid enough" prosecutor who was there first. I see people playing politics with a private marital issue. He was deceitful and wrong to have an affair, but his punishment should come from Hillary, Chelsea and God, not the Congressional hypocrites.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Diane, African-American female, Durham, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I am a white woman who happens to socialize with primarily other white people. While I am appalled at the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, most people I know really don't care, don't think it's "our business," and don't think it's really that big a deal. I'm not familiar with the articles you read that specify African-American reaction, but in my experience, plenty of white people have abandoned traditional morals on this issue.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Michelle, 26, white female, St. Louis, MO

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I don't think African Americans are so more less tolerant of Bill Clinton's actions or that we are rejecting "traditional" moral values. I would be appalled if my boyfriend did what the President did and I would wring his neck! However, when you live your life knowing what it's like to be misjudged or persecuted, you have a tendency to be a little more tolerant. One also has to remember that Bill Clinton has done a lot during his two administrations to advance the causes of African Americans and women and has appointed women and minorities to Cabinet posts, judgeships, etc. We tend to be more forgiving and definitely don't bite the hand that has fed us. Also, Clinton has steered the country into prosperity, and I believe that has a lot to do with tolerance as well. Clinton has had a record of standing by African Americans with his actions, and therefore we will stand by him. At least, I will.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Tiffany T., 25, African-American female, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
We hold the same moral code as most people. It's not that we see nothing "wrong" with extramarital affairs, but, like many people of all races, I don't think Clinton's personal life is my business. I, personally, do not want to hear about anyone's sexual liaisons with someone other than their husband/wife. It's not my business. Yes, he is the President. However, I don't feel his affair with Lewinsky affected his handling of his job, and therefore, it is not my business. He is not the only person, man or woman, to have had an extramarital affair. This happens all the time, everyday, to everyone. No one else (well, not many, anyway) has their personal business put out for all to see.

Also, not many bosses' names are trashed when caught having an affair with the secretary or any other employee. They are not prosecuted for having the affair. I'd think that most of the people who found out about the affair would think it was wrong, but, as I said before, would also think it was none of their business. They would be disgusted, but as long as it didn't interfere with the man's/woman's handling of his/her job, I doubt anyone would really care. Also, I think many people, not only black, see this scandal as a set-up. After all, what kind of woman saves a semen-stained dress? Not a very stable one. And maybe it could have been hidden better if Ken Starr had not been like a dog after a cat. I believe Starr had to find "something" to justify spending millions of taxpayers' dollars on the Paula Jones scandal. He couldn't afford to do otherwise. But who cares? It's time to move on. I believe many people, black and otherwise, think this same money could have been put to better use in education or some other worthy cause. I'm tired of hearing about it, having my favorite programs interrupted with "new" news on it and would like the whole thing to be put to rest so we Americans can focus on improving things here at home.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Whitney T., 19, black female belonging to neither the Democratic nor Republican party, <
scrumpies@juno.com>, Oxford, MS

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
I don't know who they were polling, but I for one am not impressed with Bill's infidelity. It is true that infidelity is, in some areas of black communities, thought of as cute, OK or even expected ... but not in my house. I am sure "cheating" is considered OK or at least a dirty secret among whites, too. (I know of a girl who is living with her baby's father and her current boyfriend. Who does she sleep with? She's cheating on somebody. Anyway, the point is, "A dog is a dog is a dog," no matter what color. The only difference is Bill has more money than most of us. To general society, if you have money, then anything you do is considered OK because if you get into trouble, you pay Johnny Cochran-type lawyers to bail you out. Cheating is never OK, as Bill is finding out.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Chandra, 22, black <
randolph@ismie.com>, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
This question assumes all white people feel the same way the writer does. I am a 26-year-old white female, and I can honestly say I couldn't care less about the private life of our elected leader, unless it breaks laws. The question I've had in my head for quite a while is, Why does it seem that men are more offended by the President's actions than women? I come to this conclusion by listening to the opinions of the men I work with, overhearing conversations between men and women on the subject, reading letters to the editor, and even in such magazines as The New Yorker (where I would think that viewpoints would be a little more liberal). Maybe black people don't feel the hypocritical need to state to the world how "moral" they are, like white men do.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Amber, 26, white female, Las Vegas, NV

FURTHER NOTICE 11:
Those articles could not have possibly asked all 33 million African Americans what they think about marital fidelity. Each and every one of us feels differently. For my part, I care about what my husband is doing. I really don't think that what Clinton does sexually is anyone else's business except Hillary's. Of course, I can only speak for myself. No one can speak for an entire race. We are individuals who happen to share some physical characteristics. One fact that might be clouding the issue of race and marital fidelity is that blacks from other countries are visually lumped in with American blacks. And other countries have different mores than Americans. There are many cultures where fidelity is not expected or required. And there are certainly many, many Americans of all races who break their marriage vows. It is not something that can be litigated.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Jesse D., 35, African-American female, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 12:
While I can't speak for all African Americans, I will say that we have always been considered a very forgiving people. I don't condone what President Clinton has done with Monica Lewinsky or any other woman who has claimed to have been with him. I do feel that this is a personal matter that need only be discussed with Hillary and Chelsea. While I'm at it, let me say that none of his extramarital affairs are cause for impeachment.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Janet, 33, African American, Capitol Heights, Md

FURTHER NOTICE 13:
I've read some of the same press, and I don't get the impression that African Americans think less of marriage vows than European Americans. I believe what you are seeing is that most African Americans (myself included) are rallying around our president. I understand that "misleading the public" was somewhat short of morally bankrupt of him to do, however, I see this as a mistake, and I can't say if I would or would not have done the same thing if I were in his shoes (we already have witness that many ex-presidents as well as Republican politicians have done the same thing). I see this president as finally giving African Americans a voice in the White House; the talks on race relations may be just "talks," but it's a start. But getting back to the point, African Americans do not view truthfulness differently than European Americans. Some just disagree with your view of the situation.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Demetris <
demetris@earthlink.net>, Frederick, MD

FURTHER NOTICE 14:
African Americans, as a whole, have more insight and experience on being the accused and the underdog than white people. Because we know first-hand that the government can be the enemy, that there can be trumped-up charges, we are more inclined to give an accused the benefit of the doubt. Fidelity in the marital unit is just as important to African Americans as it is to whites.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
27, black female <
caramel@hotmail.com>, Jackson, MS

FURTHER NOTICE 15:
Rather than saying there's nothing wrong with the Clinton-Lewinsky affair or rejecting traditional morals, I and most of my friends feel this is a personal matter and not our responsibility to judge such personal items in such a public arena. I would not have married the man, but that's not what we elected him for. I tend to feel that a lot of white Americans are somewhat hypocritical on this matter; for example, holding up the "Founding Fathers" as examples of moral rectitude (truthfulness, at least in the political arena, has always seemed to be more expedient than not).
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
André, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 16:
I have yet to hear a black religious person say that Clinton was right to do what he did. They do not defend his actions in any way. So it is not true that blacks are less moral (that's racist, by the way). However, keep in mind that blacks and other minorities are traditionally Democratic in their politics. Without pressing my point too far, black religious groups "forgiving" Clinton is much like the mostly white Christian Coalition "forgiving" Newt Gingrich for his possible ethics violations. Had it been Ronald Reagan or George Bush (both Republican presidents) who had been charged with these same crimes, I would have expected black religious leaders to have strongly backed impeachment, just as the CC is pushing for Clinton's ouster. In short, when the matter is political, you have to look for the political angle!
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
John K., 25, <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford, NJ

FURTHER NOTICE 17:
I believe President Clinton should be thrown out of office, not because I believe he is a disgusting man, but because his behavior shows a lack of respect for his wife, daughter, his party and basically the entire American public. If he can risk everything for something so petty, even as he is being investigated for other similar acts, it says to me he isn't one who should be trusted. In my experience, marital fidelity and morality are just as important to blacks as whites. I think the reaction you see in some of the polls comes from the realization that Clinton is much more aligned with so-called ''black political agendas'' than the ''scary, potentially racist Republicans.'' My parents taught me it was important to forgive, but that never, ever meant a forfeiture of punishment. If he did this several years ago, before he was in office and didn't continue such acts while in power, then that would be different. But he knew the political climate and what his removal would mean to so many people, and that didn't stop him from acting like a sex-starved idiot.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Issac B., 25, black, recently married <
ibailey@thesunnews.com>, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

FURTHER NOTICE 18:
I am not African American. However, the black ministers seem clearly to believe that (1) Clinton has been on their side more than most other presidents, and (2) that Clinton may have sinned but that the Bible teaches forgiveness and compassion. I suggest you take a look at the current bestselling book The Color of Water, in which a white woman raises 12 chilren and has two black husbands (one after the first dies). She notes that the black community was always understanding, forgiving, warm and accepting of her - a troubled woman from an abusive background - but that this was not so among whites.
POSTED NOV. 19, 1998
Fred, 69, white male, married <
flap.@mindspring.com>, CT
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THE QUESTION:
G2: I am a native Atlantan and would like to know why many Northern transplants and Northerners in general appear to be rude and condescending to Southern people when they move here. I noticed it a great deal in the UK this summer as well. The only people who really seemed to dislike me were other Americans from the North.
POSTED MARCH 15, 1998
Todd, Atlanta, GA

ANSWER 1:
Unfortunately, many Northerners automatically associate a Southern dialect with "unschooled" and "ignorant," which of course is not true. There seems to be an embedded belief by many people in this country that the Northern "white" dialect of American English is the only correct, and therefore acceptable, way of speaking in the United States. Therefore, people who speak any other way are "ignorant," and can be talked "down" to because of their dialect.
POSTED MARCH 19, 1998
Suzanne, 23, Ann Arbor , MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
As a native Long Islander who has been transplanted to the South for the last five years, I think I know the answer. It's not so much that we're being rude, it's more we're being normal. I am amazed, every time I go home, how rude and obnoxious everyone is to each other. Even if they are friends! Everyone's got something to say. Half of the people I know would argue with the Pope himself. That accounts for about 95 percent of the rudeness. The other 5 percent are just jerks, and I apologize on their behalf. They're the first ones who make fun of the way you talk. If it ever really bothers you, sit back and listen to them. A good Long Island accent is by far worse than any Southern accent.
POSTED MARCH 28, 1998
Casey, 22, Reston, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am a many-generations back Southerner who went to college for a year in Connecticut. I lost track of the number of times complete strangers would see me in a Florida shirt or see my license plate as I filled my tank, approach me and say, "You from Florida? You people from Florida act so nasty about us but you would starve if it weren't for us." I was shocked. And so were the many, many native New Englanders who are far too kind, well-bred and open-minded to ever think like that, the people I was lucky to have as friends. In any group, there are jerks and there are wonderful folks, I guess.
POSTED OCT. 15, 1998
Midori, 38, white <
midorichan1@juno.com>, Orlando, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I will not apologize for the condescending nature of Northerners. Yes, the Southern accent is associated with ignorance, but I think it is important to recognize that Southern schools consistently rank at the bottom of the national list. Stereotypes are often rooted in truth; they become damaging when they outlive the truth from which they were born. This is not the case for Southern public schools; the sad truth of their inferiority still exists today. Does it mean that there are no well-educated people in the South? Absolutely not. Nor does it give Northerners the right to generalize that Southerners as uneducated. Nor does it give Southerners the right to generalize that Northerners as condescending. However, I am sick of groups (racial, sexual, geographic, etc.) focusing on the way they are treated as a result of their flaws instead of taking responsibility for their shortcomings and thus not giving anyone a reason to believe in the stereotype. Maybe Northerners will stop being condescending to Southerners for their perceived ignorance when the South shows that it cares about education.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
The Last Girl You Will Ever Catch Twirling Her Hair and Giggling So You Can Never Stereotype Me As A Ditz, Charleston, SC
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THE QUESTION:
R526: To people of all races: Is it hard for you to get along with people of other races, and if so, which races, and why?
POSTED NOV. 17, 1998
D. Price <
abqteachr@netscape.net>, Albuquerque, NM
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THE QUESTION:
O33: Why do we lower physical standards for women in police and fire occupations? Are we not risking the lives of people in the interest of equality? I for one would not want a woman half my size attempting to carry me out of a burning building. I would much rather it be a man who I know has the physical capability.
POSTED NOV. 12, 1998
Pete, male, Toledo, OH

ANSWER 1:
I agree we should not lower standards for any position in order to include a particular group of people. However, a man is not necessarily stronger or more physically fit by mere virtue of his sex. Ever seen a couch potato? I'd much rather have a physically fit female carry me around than some fireman who spends his free time sitting on his butt. At the same time, when standards are lowered in the interest of including other groups, it ultimately sends the message that those groups aren't up for the challenge. And let's face it, the level of strength needed to be an effective firefighter, for example, is not unattainable by most people, regardless of sex. I'm not saying firefighters are not incredibly well-conditioned people, just that anyone with a passion for that field should be capable of achieving the level of fitness required. I think reasonable standards, determined by the demands of a position, should be set and required of all employees/volunteers. Those who can't meet them should either seek other work, or find a way to serve that does not require physical strength. Everyone has his/her limitations; if yours is physical fitness, then maybe firefighting (or lifeguarding or military service) is not the field for you - male, female or otherwise.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
D.M.M., white, female, 24 <
donikam@hotmail.com>, Charleston, SC

FURTHER NOTICE:
I do see your point, but do not believe the police and fire departments would suffer any woman or man to fill physically demanding positions if they were incapable of executing reasonable physical feats. Now if a woman will risk her own life to save another, so be it; are not her male colleagues also risking theirs? As for a woman risking others' lives, what if a woman half your size did pull/drag you out of a burning building - how would you feel then?
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Alonzo C., 32, African American, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Why do they lower height requirements so certain ethnic groups can qualify? Height is also important, particularly in a firefighter's job. You gotta be fair all the way around. As a female firefighter (reserve - competition is stiff ) I know there are plenty of us who can do the job and work circles around some of our plumper, lazier man-fellows. Besides, there's that new firefighter "two-in-two-out" law that passed, so I doubt one guy is gonna run into a burning building and save you single-handedly. Also noteworthy, under the influence of adrenalin, anything is possible!
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
K.B., 37, white female, Riverside area, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
The technical term for differing standards for men and women is "gender norming." Essentially, the theory goes that "based on physiological differences, the women's equivalent of a man doing 12 pullups is (for example) four pullups." The idea is to assign not equal standards, but equivalent standards. I'm in the military, and we deal with this all the time. I believe there is a reason for a given standard, such as carrying someone out of a burning building, and that standard should be the same regardless of the sex of the rescuer. The other problem is one of physiology: How can we say for sure what is equivalent to what? I do caution you not to assume a woman couldn't rescue you, though. In my judo classes, I've run across many a "little old lady" who could move my 200 lbs around with no effort at all.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Charles <
Sw1mFast@aol.com>, Fairview Heights, IL
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THE QUESTION:
SO97: Considering that gay people are a minority, why does it seem there is bigotry and racism within the gay community as it relates to black/white gay couples and other mixed couples?
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
A World Without Borders <
cyberjoe@aol.com>, Pittsburgh, PA
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THE QUESTION:
R511: I recently saw part of a truly awful movie on HBO that involved a "boot camp" for juvenile offenders. One character, an African-American guard, lectured an inmate, also an African American, about his lack of character. In doing so, he distinguished between "niggers" and "blacks," stating that "niggers" are the gang-bangers and dope addicts, while "blacks" are the hard-working, law-abiding citizens. Do African Americans commonly make this distinction within the African-American community?
POSTED NOV. 9, 1998
Jerry, 65, white male, Tampa , FL

ANSWER 1:
Yes, black people do distingish between the two. Haven't you heard Chis Rock's standup routine about "I love black people, can't stand niggers!" There is a difference: Black people care about the neighborhood, niggers don't. In effect, niggers are the ones looting, stealing and just plane trifling. They don't care about nothing, and people who do that are considered niggers.
POSTED NOV. 13, 1998
Gerald <
g-battle@nwu.edu>, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE:
I saw the movie and recall the reference. Movies, particularly those about "black life," are designed to convey messages or ideas, or to persuade or validate thought. The comment that you referred to was intended to motivate the young, troubled man to correct his steps in life. In layman's terms, the kid was being advised to take a critical look at his life, to change his ways, and to, as a young black man, develop a sense of personal pride and dignity. The older character was simply using a euphemism to illustrate his point. Television and media sensationalism seldom capture fully the true attitudes and values of "all" black folk. However, what it does do well is market the ongoing myth that there is one vein of black ideology of which all of us buy into. The reality is that the majority of black people have high values, standards, moral and ethical principles, and a positive vision for our children. The advice of parents and loved ones is not usually as harsh as the comments made in the movie, but most of us are familiar with being advised by an older black person(s) to "do right" or to "keep on keepin' on". A sense of racial pride and a positive self-identity is important to raising emotionally intact black children (if we don't tell them they are good and valuable, certainly no one else will). However, most people do not go around challenging our children to view themselves purely in a racial context. So, the "nigger is..." and "black is..." reference in the movie reflected the author's creative control - his/her personal opinion, ideas, values, or experience. Some of us may agree with the comment, while others may not.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Dee W., black female <
westde@hiram.edu>, Cleveland, OH
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THE QUESTION:
RE100: Whenever I tell a Catholic I am an atheist, I get told "You're too young to have made that decision." How can anyone say this, knowing that the standard age for confirmation is about 13?
POSTED SEPT. 30, 1998
Stef, female, 19 <
Sidhe_devil@hotmail.com>, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

ANSWER 1:
My friend told his parents at age 12 that he was no longer going to church because he did not believe there was a God. He is now 27 and still believes the same thing, although he lives a life of helping and loving others.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Craig, 35, Christian <
cmorris@loft.org>, Minneapolis MN
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THE QUESTION:
O34: Why does a principal and or school official have the right to search students, but the police need to have a warrant to search someone?
POSTED NOV. 13, 1998
Sara S., 17 <
sarasamuel@hotmail.com>, Pioneer, CA

ANSWER 1:
Two reasons. First, during the school day, your school and its officials are considered to be acting as your guardians. Just as your parents have the right to search your room, your school has the right to search your locker. Also, technically, the locker belongs to the school, not you. The school's just letting you use it. The other reason is that police have greater powers than school officials. Police can arrest you and start the legal process toward imprisonment. That's why they need a warrant.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Andrew, 34 <
ziptron@start.com.au>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
Are you talking about a personal search, like "frisking?" If you are, then, as far as I know, a police officer does not need a warrant to check a person's body if that person has come under suspicion of something. This would assume that the person being searched is out in public, and possibly a danger to others. If that person were inside their home on private property, then the police would probably need a warrant. I suspect it is similar for school officials. Anytime you go into a confined space containing large numbers of people (school, ballgames, concerts, etc.), you might be subject to a search if a danger is suspected. I have been frisked several times before, and I never thought my privacy was being invaded.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Stephen S., 31, San Antonio, TX

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