Best of the Week
of Nov. 28, 1999

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Nov. 28, 1999, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our 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. 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.

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Question:
How do Roman Catholic recovering alcoholics take communion (wine) without triggering a relapse?
POSTED 11/30/1999
Gerald M. T., Tampa, FL, United States, 66, Male, White/Caucasian, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 11299995859

Responses:
As far as I know, only the priest partakes of the wine and not the congregation, but I am altogether unfamiliar with the methods of Catholicism. However, I responded to your post because it made me recall something very interesting. Back in the 1850s, a Protestant pastor saw that some of the members of his congregation had this problem. They were recovering alcoholics, and one sip of wine would have caused a relapse. He thought that if only he could make wine that was not fermented, then the problem would be solved. The trouble was that back then when juice was derived from grapes, there was no way of keeping it from fermenting. So he put together a contraption that would process the juice but keep it from fermenting, and so grape juice was invented. The pastor's last name? Welch.
POSTED 12/2/99
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Student/dishwasher, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 12199125827

It is not necessary to take both the bread (wafer) and the wine, as the Catholic Church teaches that the body and blood of Christ are present in both the elements. The wine is optional. According to a seminarian I know, for alcoholic priests there is a special sort of wine called mustum (I think that's what it's called...), which is not actually wine but has the potential to be wine.
POSTED 12/2/99
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 21, Female, Mesg ID 113099124030
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Question:
I was wondering why so many black men date white girls, and why so many black men hold white girls to a higher value than black girls. For example, when I listen to black guys talking about a club, they seem to always ask if there were white girls there.
POSTED 11/30/99
Patrick W., Jacksonville, FL, United States, 31, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, administration, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 817199993130

Responses:
Your perspective is interesting. The question could also be phrased, "Why do so many white girls date black men? Do white girls hate white men?" Sound ridiculous? In any event, as cultural norms fall by the wayside, people are bound to realize that people are basically the same.
POSTED 12/1/99
Bob T., Ventura, CA, United States, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Law, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 11301999113325

There are a few reasons why I think a lot of black men date white women: 1) Historically, white women were put on a pedestal. They were seen as ladies, the ideal woman. A black man could be killed for dating a white women, so she was seen as 'special' or 'superior.' Therefore, she became a symbol of social status. Notice how many black athletes or sucessful black men marry white women. They have money now, and they need a white woman to validate them in society. 2) Self-hate. Believe it or not, there are black men out there who say they are with white women in order to have 'pretty children,' meaning light skin and 'good' (straight or wavy) hair. They hate something about themselves, and they prove something by being with a white woman. 3) From what I am told by black men, white women put up with a lot more sh-- than black women. Black men say they can get over on white women, and black women are too strong, etc.
POSTED 12/1/99
Mary, Columbus, OH, United States, 19, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, college student, 2 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 113099112532

This question pops up on a regular basis, but rest assured, in general, black men do like/love black women. We marry them, love them, have kids by them - and most of our mothers are black. I think it is just the forbidden fruit theory, and that some of the white women who will date a black man will move a little faster than average, with a lot of lust involved. Rap music is bringing more whites (especially white women) into the black culture, and getting them together with other blacks. I can tell you that I will date whoever attracts me, and I love good-looking women. I don't like the women wearing all the fake hair, and especially the fake nails. That is just too much. Yet, on the whole, 80 percent of the women I have dated have been black, 15 percent women of color (i.e. Latino, Asian, Indian) and 5 percent white. It could be just 'Jungle Fever,' and once the fever is over, people will tend to go back to those closest to what they grew up with.
POSTED 12/1/99
Tony, Cincinnati, OH, United States, <more_stuff@zoomtown.com>, 44, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Manufacturing, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 11309911932

I can tell you why I seek an interracial relationship (to all the black females who are reaching for their verbal rapiers to skewer me, I'd remind you that the following is my own opinion and can change at any time): From my own experience, I have come to believe that I am not the ideal mate for black women. My features are not that of Denzel Washington, Babyface, et al. As a college student, I barely have enough to stay in my studio apartment, much less buy an expensive car (I cannot drive, so that's a non-issue in any case), jewelry or the latest trends in clothing. The standards set in the media, which many black females seem to eat up instantly, are too high for me to touch. Character doesn't seem to register (even though I am far from a saint, I admit). What I am ultimately trying to say is that nice guys appear to finish last when it comes to hooking up with a black female. They appear to want either a roughneck gangster, an R&B uberlover or the next NBA or NFL superstar. All I ask in a lady is acceptance of who I am and who I can become. Unfortunately, in my opinion, BET and many urban radio stations have poisoned the minds of African-American women by presenting so much eye candy that they dismiss a regular, plain-looking college student who seeks a regular career.
POSTED 12/2/99
Vincent B., Chicago, IL, United States, <flame73@iols.net>, 26, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1219920611

I think, first of all, it may have something to do with geography. In some parts of this country (and the world, for that matter) no one really gives it that much thought. Interracial dating, while still something of an oddity (as compared to the rest of the dating population) is not seen as an earth-shaking development and is just a casual, matter-of-fact thing. In Jacksonville, however, it may still have a stigma attached to it, and that makes it an out-of-the-ordinary, eye-catching thing. Because of the climate of the area, you might be more attuned to it and notice it more than, say the number of white men who date Asian or Hispanic women, the numbers of which may be just as great. Secondly, the media may have a lot to do with the desire of some men and women to date interracially, particularly in the case of black-white relationships. Through television commercials, beauty pageants and even kids toys (don�t forget Barbie), the idea that white American women are the end-all and be-all of beauty is perpetrated daily, even hourly. On television commercials for beauty products, white women are glorified; in almost every television program the female lead is usually young and white. Only now are African American, Asian or Hispanic women being featured in those outlets, and even then their numbers are few. And when you are bombarded with images that tell you that 'white is beautiful' and all else pales in comparison, it naturally becomes desireable. Your last statement is very telling: The guys you overheard didn�t ask if there were any 'beautiful' white women at the club, just if there were white women. If doesn�t matter what they look like. They, according to the media, are the pinnacle.
POSTED 12/2/99
Kenny G., Chicago, IL, United States, <KennyG9@yahoo.com>, 35, Male, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, marketing, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 11309961221

There are many reasons black men date white women. Some are the same as why they date black women. They meet, they like each other, they fall in love and so on. Do you ask white women who date black men if they hate white men? I know black men who date white women, but most of the black men I know date and marry black women.
POSTED 12/2/99
Elisa S., Los Angeles, CA, United States, <reswain1@msn.com>, 31, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Credentials Analyst, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 12299121519
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Question:
I teach a public speaking class at a large university. I have seven Asian students from various countries. They are shy about speaking out in class, and I know they are not accustomed to the open interaction I encourage in the classroom. What can I do to make them more comfortable and to encourage them to participate?
POSTED 6/18/99
Rhiannon, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <rock0048@tc.umn.edu>, 28, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Grad student and university instructor, Mesg ID 6179950632

Responses:
I teach cyberlaw and computer ethics at Florida State University in the Computer Science Department. As you can imagine, we have a lot of Asian students, mainly from China. My classes are discussion classes and heavily Socratic due to the subject matter, and I have noticed this tendency toward shyness in class, particularly among the Chinese. I found that although some of the reluctance is due to the language barrier, most of it is cultural. I spoke with some of the Chinese students about this, and they were quite expressive on an individual basis. Many told me they were very uncomfortable talking in class and particularly uncomfortable about expressing an opinion, or even worse, questioning or disagreeing with the instructor. This is a problem, because disagreeing with the instructor is a required element in my courses! It seems this is not done in China. The instructor speaks, the students copy down his words verbatim, and that's it. I don't have any easy answers, but meeting with the international students individually and explaining the U.S. style of education might help. I did succeed in getting a few to open up, but many were still reluctant.
POSTED 11/30/99
H. Brown, Tallahassee, FL, United States, <hugbrown@cs.fsu.edu>, 31, Male, Agnostic Methodist Taoist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Attorney/grad student, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 81899114217

I am Asian and was in a public-speaking class in high school (Toastmasters). We had Asian nationals from places like Thailand in the class - they were all shy, too. To me, the No. 1 reason they were shy was that certain students were making fun of them (i.e. their accents). If you want to help them, tell the ridiculing students to behave.
POSTED 12/2/1999
David L., Chicago, IL, United States, 26, Male, Campbellian, Asian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 6229935628
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Question:
To people in wheelchairs: Is it appropriate for someone to ask if you need assistance? Is it patronizing for someone to ask you, "May I get the door for you?" I recognize that the answer will probably depend on the individual and the circumstance, but I'm hoping for some guidelines.
POSTED 1/13/99
Kim S., Tempe, AZ, United States, Mesg ID 1139914700

Responses:
God, I wish more people would ask if asking is OK. I do a lot of teaching - children, adults, businesses, etc. about disabilities and appropriate and acceptable behavior. I don't mind when people ask, as long as they accept my answer ("Can I get the door for you?" "No, Thanks. Got it."). But when my choice is taken away, that's when you don't want to mess with me... Picture this: I am small and use a wheelchair, and drive a very big van. People see me. They see me get out of the van, yet they ask if they can help me. Sometimes I want to say "Yeah, you can change my oil." Get the picture?
POSTED 11/30/99
Maria J. C., Bridgewater, NJ, United States, 31, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, use wheelchair, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 817199923625
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Question:
Here in Cincinnati, a black man who served 25 years for being part of a convenience story robbery at which a white police officer and black civil rights worker were killed has become a lawyer. The man, who was not the shooter, was imprisoned at 16, served his time, got his life together, got his degree, took the bar and passed it. Now, the police, judges and district attorney want to ban him from the courtroom, and it has become a racial issue. Most people against him are white, and most for him are black. What is your opinion? Should he be able to become a lawyer, and be allowed to practice?
POSTED 11/29/99
Tony, Cincinnati, OH, United States, <the_green_hornet@zoomtown.com>, 45, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, manufacturing, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 11279913247

Responses:
Quite apart from the racial issues, most states don't allow people with felony convictions to be licensed as attorneys. Because most states view attorneys as part of the justice system, they don't trust ex-cons to be part of it. But if the rules in Ohio allow it, it seems wrong to change the rules just to keep him out.
POSTED 11/30/1999
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au>, 35, Male, White/Caucasian, Reporter, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 11299982029

Hopefully this decision will be made on other than racial grounds. The real issue before the admissions committee is whether this individual is qualified to be admitted to the practice of law. Because I do not know whether he is qualified, I cannot render an opinion as to whether he should be admitted. A lawyer is responsible for many client interests. He is responsible for client funds, property and liberty, among other things. He or she also has a duty to the courts and others to act with candor and honesty. To be admitted to the practice of law, the individual in question must prove rehabilitation to the admissions committee. Rehabilitation means he can be trusted with the responsibilities described above. In Florida we have had a convicted armed robber admitted to the bar despite the objections of the police and prosecutors. This shows that it can be done. But the applicant must focus on his rehabilitation, not on racial issues.
POSTED 11/30/1999
PappaJerry, Tampa, FL, United States, <gmt@gte.net>, 66, Male, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 112999121902
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Question:
What is Judy Garland's appeal among some gay men? Is this just another Hollywood myth, or is there some truth to it?
POSTED 11/29/99
A.S.B., Seattle, WA, United States, 31, Female, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 11131999101404
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Question:
I enjoy eating out often with other senior citizens, but somehow the young waitress usually talks "baby talk" to us when describing the specials. We can hear fine, but they shout as well. How come?
POSTED 1/11/99
Patrick, N/A, NA, United States, 73, Male, Mesg ID 1119954610

Responses:
I used to speak to my own grandparents in a 'younger' voice. When I was a child and got to talk to Grandma and Grandpa on the phone, I remember I would talk less like myself and more like a younger kid. I don't know why for sure, but maybe it's because our grandparents don't really see us as grown-up, so we tried not to sound like it. Maybe your waitresses talk like that because it triggers in their minds that they're talking to a grandparent, which makes them feel like they should sound younger. Now that my grandparents talk to me like an adult, I talk to them like an adult. My point is, I don't think they speak to you that way to be condescending or disrespectful. They probably don't even realize they're doing it.
POSTED 11/29/99
Jen I., Eielson, AK, United States, 27, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Military, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 11279934229
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Question:
This may sound like a stupid question, but why do women sometimes laugh or giggle when they see a guy's private parts? Does it look funny or goofy to them? One woman even told me she thinks it is funny-looking. Why?
POSTED 11/29/99
Eric, Minneapolis, MN, United States, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, High School Diploma,Mesg ID 11289961148

Responses:
I think there are a variety of reasons women sometimes laugh when they see a man's genitals. One may be the ludicrous appearance of a man's penis/testicles; if you think about it, the whole package is less than esthetically pleasing. It certainly isn't as neat and clean as a woman's vulva. Another reason might be nervousness on her part, or sheer unfamiliarity with a man's organs.
POSTED 11/30/1999
Steve M., Boston, MA, United States, 35, Male, Muslim, Black/African American, Straight, Systems manager, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 11299923704
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Question:
Why do some Christians believe speaking in tongues is necessary for worship? Do Christians who speak in tongues believe that those who don't are not really saved?
POSTED 11/29/99
Jen I., Eielson, AK, United States, 27, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Military, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 11279922810

Responses:
Some congregations adhere to the 'tongues equals salvation' doctrine, but the majority of Pentecostal and Charismatic congregations are aware that tongues aren't necessary for salvation. When people say that things other than or in addition to Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation, I always point to the thief on the cross. As for it being necessary for worship, well, when it comes to worship, it is what's in the heart that counts. Tongues are a spiritual gift. To the individual, it is direct communication with God. To the congregation, when accompanied by interpretation, it is God directly speaking.
POSTED 11/30/1999
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student/dishwasher, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 11299992810
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Question:
I can't get a straight answer from my parents about what race I am exactly. My mom is multiracial, but she is racist and very hard to talk to on the matter. Does having light skin make one white? I do not look dark enough to be considered by my other backgrounds, but just calling myself white would be denying all my other backgrounds. I realize we are all human and don't need to be classified, but this is just to satisfy my curiosity.
POSTED 11/29/99
Zero, Vancouver, NA, Canada, 16, Mesg ID 112699105010

Responses:
Don't go by what others think you are, and don't go by the color of your skin. I am multiracial as well - Irish/Puerto Rican - and while I don't look like the stereotype of what it means to be either Irish or Puerto Rican, that's what I tell people. Be proud of what you are. If someone tells you that you can't be a certain ethnicity because you fail to look like the stereotype, ignore them. You know what you are, and that is all that matters.
POSTED 11/30/1999
Mekki, Virginia Beach, VA, United States, 22, Female, Catholic, Irish/Puerto Rican, freelance writer, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 11299993839

It is interesting that you now find yourself 'choosing an ethnicity.' If your parents did not find one for you since birth, no wonder you're confused! I believe you have to ask yourself several questions: How do my parents identify me? How do my friends and people I interact with identify me? How do I identify myself? If you can believe you are more comfortable with one ethnicity (without denying your other heritages) than the others, accept that as your identity. Stay away from prejudicial remarks; accept only cultural facts, do some research, and if you find more answers pointing toward one culture, that might be yours. This society unfortunately bases many things on color, but your identity should be based on what you believe and understand to be you.
POSTED 12/2/1999
Sundiata, Washington, DC, United States, <sstreet@haleybp.com>, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, security specialist/contractor, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 1219932540
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Question:
To men and women: How important is virginity to you, and who and what made you think this way?
POSTED 11/23/1999
Whitney L., Sydney, NA, Australia, Mesg ID 11191999114949

Responses:
Losing your virginity is like buying your first new car: It must be perfect. It opens the door to sex, which everyone loves to have. The first time is always the best feeling, and we all know feelings are gifts from God.
POSTED 11/29/99
Rebecca R., San Diego, CA, United States, <Beck8036@aol.com>, 19, Female, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, student, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 112499113745

To me, virginity before marriage is very important. I regret having engaged in sexual behavior before marriage. My husband was in his late twenties when we were married, and he was also a virgin. This meant so much to me that he waited for me. (Yes, it was his choice). I never have to wonder if he has venereal diseases, or if he thinks about other women he has been to bed with. I consider his premarital virginity a very flattering gift. I only wish I would have done the same for him.
POSTED 11/29/99
Michell, Dayton, OH, United States, 32, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 11249952111

My parents taught me that females saved themselves for their husbands. But when I was young, I was curious, my hormones were boiling and I just couldn't wait. The only important thing seemed to be my selection - the lucky male had to appeal to me, and he did, plus more. He seemed to have valued my virginity more than I did because he hesitated and questioned my certainty. Our short affair ended abruptly on my part because of betrayal on his part. At that point, I deeply regretted giving my virginity to him. Over the years, he approached me several times, with no success. My fortune teller told me that what he and I had was special, and that one day I was going to realize it and see that both of us had had a misunderstanding. At the time, I said, 'No way in Hell!' Sure enough, he had been successful on one occasion in voicing his point of view to me. But at that time, it did not really faze me because years had passed and he had a child with someone else. I couldn't understand why he still cared. Now, years later, I finally understand that he loved me and I had hurt him by standing him up one night, and blowing him off the next day. He felt I no longer liked him - but I was 12 and having fun with my friends. All of this is to say I realize now how important my virginity was to him and that he had meant it when he said I was his forever and that no one would ever take that away from him. There's so much more to this story that it feels like some forces of nature have had a hand in this one. He has given me a change of heart and I am now glad he was the chosen one. Though we live separate lives, when we see each other, we share that special bond in our stare. If we get too close to each other, sparks begin to fly, and one of us must quietly leave the room before anyone gets hit. I wonder what made him value my virginity so much?
POSTED 11/29/99
S. Linsun, Hilo, HI, United States, 34, Female, Asian, Straight, student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 11249910550
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Question:
It is well-talked about here in my country that American society is full of psychopaths and nut cases. Here we have killers, of course, but they are muggers, thieves, narcs and crooks, but there are no psycho-killers, serial killers or any other homicidal Clark Kents or Ward Cleavers. I have my theories, which are based on the aggressive "Don't talk to strangers," "Mind your own business "and Get offa my property" attitudes of American society, but I'm not a sociologist. I would like to read the opinion of experts on this subject.
POSTED 8/2/99
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 30, Male, Catholic, White/Latino, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 82199915345

Responses:
Our psychopaths are also muggers, thieves, narcs and crooks. They also pop up in everyday life in otherwise 'normal' roles here, as I'm sure they do in your country. Psychopathic illnesses occur without regard to nationality. However, we have a media culture that is often centered on providing us with the worst news possible (to get better ratings). If something terrible happens, we hear about it for weeks. And because our media is often broadcast to the rest of the world, you probably hear about it, too. I offer several examples that psychopathic tendencies are not an inherently American affliction: Adolf Hitler, Joesph Stalin and Saddam Hussein.
POSTED 11/29/99
Benjamin C., Anniston, AL, United States, 23, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineering, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 112799103719
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