Best of the Week
of Nov. 29, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Nov. 29, 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.

Question Code Key:

A=Age

GD=General Diversity

RE=Religion

C=Class

G=Geography

SE=Sensitive Matters

D=Disabilities

O=Occupation

SO=Sexual Orientation

GE=Gender

R=Race/Ethnicity


THE QUESTION:
R550: How do people deal with prejudiced members of their own family? For instance, no matter how many times my mother and I tell him that "colored" is an inappropriate term for black people, that's the term my father uses. The man isn't stupid, and there's nobody else in the room but family when he says it, so he's not insulting anyone to their face. He just doesn't care enough to be bothered to remember. He's in his 70s and nothing my mother or I say is likely to change his attitude. Do I stick up for principle, let it go on the grounds life is too short to have futile fights with my father, or make a token resistance to show I don't approve and then let it go? I usually do the third, but I'm interested in others' feelings and experiences concerning this type of situation.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Susan, female, New York, NY

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THE QUESTION:
GD53: Why is there such a stigma attached to disciplining your children? Can a light smack (not in anger) really psychologically harm your child? Are pleasant, obedient children not preferable to demanding, naughty children who threaten us that if we smack them they will "report" us?
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Tiffany B. <
Burbunch@bigpond.com>, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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THE QUESTION:
R416: Why is it that some black people in chat rooms call white people "white devils"?
POSTED AUG. 13, 1998
Molson, 19, white <
molson_c@hotmail.com>, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

ANSWER 1:
In my opinion, the devil is often associated with death and destruction. I feel white people have shown themselves through history to be the devil. Examples include: 1) the production and releasing of nuclear weapons and atomic bombs; 2) the killings of several races or cultures by the Ku Klux Klan, through biological weapons such as AIDS or through the introduction of drugs; 3) the constant development of more powerful guns and weapons, ships and submarines; and 4) the constant belief of superiority over others. In my opinion, the white man is clearly the equivalent to my definition of the devil.
POSTED AUG. 21, 1998
Rita, black female, Newport News, VA

(Click here for ensuing 13 responses)
FURTHER NOTICE 14:
Obviously white people or white men are not devils, and I am sure Rita does not think they are, either. A bunch of white people wrote back condemning her racist attacks on white men. While it is necessary to have zero tolerance for stereotypes - it is important for us, if we are to be constructive, to understand where Rita's comments were coming from. Rita is making an analysis of American society in which for the most part, power is in the hands of a few, and those few are for the most part, and I stress for the most part, wealthy white men. This is due to largely institutionalized racism (sorry folks, most of the time it ain't personal) in which the majority of non-whites receive poorer quality education, health care, jobs and housing. Also, the experiences of non-whites and women (especially of color), gays and lesbians and other oppressed groups are silenced (ignored, censored, not encouraged, discouraged, underfunded, tokenized, rejected, considered unimportant or not canonical) and their histories are not taught or known by the majority of people.

We must understand the functions of this very subtle process by which oppressed people's lives, histories and struggles are suppressed. What purpose does it serve? I have come to the conclusion that it serves the purpose of keeping the majority of people unaware of all the crazy racist and oppressive stuff that goes on in this country and in the world. If we don't have to see the faces of the one million children who have died because of the sanctions on Iraq, then it is that much easier for us to be complacent about such atrocities. If indigenous people are being kicked of the one little plot of land they have left in New Mexico to make way for uranium mines, it is that much easier for the majority of us to stand by the wayside and not make a peep because we don't even know about the humanity of those people or how much they have suffered at the hands of their colonizers.

There is two points to be made here. First, racism is institutional for the most part, and if we want to support and fight for the self-determination and liberation of non-white people, then we need to understand institutional racism. Secondly, if we are to understand and combat institutional racism, we need to undestand the racist ideology that goes with it and helps perpetuate racism in all forms. That is, as long as we are not fully aware of and are not celebrating the humanity (arts, literature, beauty, struggle, politics,etc.) of non-white people (in the same way we celebrate the humanity of white people), we will not be outraged by their oppression - whether that oppression be in the form of us killing 4,000 civilians in the Panama invasion, cutbacks on welfare, the scapegoating of immigrants and increased border violence, to unchecked police brutality.

I am writing this in response to the personalistic nature of the responses, as if racism were largely a personal problem. As if most black people would be happy as long as white people would just be nice to them or something. The problem is not a matter of niceties. It is an immense systemic problem. Non-white people are systematically denied equal opportunities in this country, and we need to fight against that if we are truly for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Eva O., white straight women, <
eva.owens@oberlin.edu>, Boston, MA

FURTHER NOTICE 15:
Rita, I'm very troubled by your answer. That sort of blindered reasoning could be (and is) used to justify any sort of prejudice. To look at only evil done by white people and ignore the good, and to ignore all the evil committed by people of other races is a very biased and selective view of the facts. As a Jew, I could look to the history of the treatment of Jews by non-Jews and particularly by many Christian churches and conclude that all non-Jews are the devil. Or, as a woman, I could look to long centuries of oppression of women and conclude that all men are the devil. I don't think that would be fair or moral or productive.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Marcia, NY, NY

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THE QUESTION:
R14: Do African Americans generally expect eventual betrayal from white people? Or do they simply see white people as naive about the nature of racism and, therefore, unaware of when they (whites) might be unintentionally offensive? Is it a survival mechanism learned from living with the constant, wearing effect of racism? Can an African-American ever let down his or her guard and trust a white person?
POSTED MARCH 9, 1998
Susan J., Dayton, OH

FURTHER NOTICE:
I never thought I would answer one of these questions until I saw this one virtually screaming at me. No, I do not feel I could ever trust a white person again. I have had far too many instances when I have been burned because I have been too trusting of them. I have had many white employers, friends, peers, etc., and all of them are untrustworthy. I treated them the exact same way as all of my black o Latino acquaintances (and usually went out of my way to be nice), but all with the same end result: An inappropriate comment starting something like "Why do you people..." or "Why do blacks..." or "Do all black people..." This leads to an immediate termination of the conversation, trust and the friendship. I cannot see, even in my young age, ever approaching a white person and striking up a conversation without them saying something inappropriate. I think it all stems from the fact that white people (because they have no culture to identify with) have no sense of loyalty and feel that people of different races are disposable. I feel that if there are some black people out there who can trust you, you should be grateful.
POSTED JULY 17, 1998
L.W., 24, black female, Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I was sad to read L.W.'s assertion that she can never trust a white person again, and I beg her to reconsider. White people are not all alike any more than are black people. I live in the South and am a white woman. As a very young child, I became aware of the injustices black Americans were suffering and have spoken out against racism ever since, and still do today. I also teach my children that only the worst kinds of people judge others by the color of their skin. I would never knowingly try to make a black person feel bad with a look, gesture or ugly comment. I have noticed that it is really not a good idea to bring up color at all, as, for instance, I did when I complimented a black woman on the color of her dress by saying how well it looked on her skin tone. Even though the comment was the same as I might make to an olive-skinned white woman, her look told me I had erred. White people do sometimes put their foot in their mouths, but it is not always meant to offend, and sometimes it is a lame attempt to be friendly. Please give us another chance.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Kim M. <
pvar5004@selu.edu>, Hammond, LA

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I think L.W.'s answer shows that all people, regardless of race, creed or gender, have the same basic problem: People tend to generalize things about other people with whom they are not familiar. There is no such thing as "white people" or "black people." These groups represent many diverse cultural groups. My father's Finnish relatives are very different than my mother's German relatives, even though they are both white people and have been Americans for several generations. I can see the differences because I live with them.
POSTED DEC. 3, 1998
J.H., 38, white male, Aurora, CO

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THE QUESTION:
SO91: I'm a gay 17-year-old male whose parents, and family, are very Catholic. Is there any way to tell them that I don't believe in what they believe? My parents came from Croatia in the '20s, and religion is everything to them. Does anyone know what to do?
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
A. Buzdon, 17, gay male <
abuzdon@yahoo.com>, Cleveland, OH

ANSWER 1:
You have two options: The first is to be clear, unambiguous and unapologetic about what you believe. They will not like that immediately, and you should be prepared for how they react. It may cause a deep rift between you for a long time, possibly years. Ultimately, they may respect you for having the courage of your convictions, but there's no guarantee of that. The other option is to keep your beliefs to yourself in the hope of not offending them. This is easy in the short term, but seems like a tough facade to maintain over the long haul. Good luck.
POSTED NOV. 3, 1998
Andrew, 34, straight <
ziptron@xoommail.com>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think this is something you have to approach very slowly, not only for your own sake but for your parents' as well. Try to talk to them about gay people in general, maybe bringing up the subject over something you see on TV or read in the newspaper, letting them know you are more open-minded on the subject than they are. Don't come out to them right away or all at once. When you do decide to tell them you are gay, make sure you are ready for the worst possible scenario. For many people, coming out is an extremely chaotic time in their life. Realize that the people who have always been there supporting you may be the ones to completely desert you. Make sure you have a strong support system outside your family, other gay (or even just sympathetic) individuals who will be there for you if your family pushes you away. If you are still living at home, make sure you have a possible place you can stay if you get kicked out. And finally, don't feel guilty! Your family may make you feel like you did something wrong, that by being yourself you are hurting them, but all in all, if they can't accept you unconditionally, they are the ones hurting themselves by being unaccepting. Take care.
POSTED NOV. 5, 1998
Amy, 18, bisexual <
UglySkank@msn.com>, Flagstaff, AZ

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
There's no reason to rush to tell them that you don't believe in Catholicism - it will be enough for them to try to handle the fact that you're gay. Before you come out to them, try to get an idea of how they may handle it. Tell them about a fictional friend who came out to his parents and see how they react. If you fear the worst, you might wait until you are no longer living at home. I have known teens who were thrown out of the house, or had to continue to live at home under very difficult circumstances. Telling them once you are away at college, for example, may provide the distance necessary for them to adjust to it. I would tell them in person, however. There are a number of books that offer advice on how to come out, as well as books designed for parents of gays, that might be helpful. My parents are also very Catholic, but luckily, they handled my coming out quite well, so don't give up hope!
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Mark, gay man, 42 <
marknyc@hotmail.com>, NY, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I think you should give your parents one chance to be understanding. There is no need to be gentle or kind in the face of oppression. Inform them of your political belief that being gay is OK. Then inform them that you are gay and are satisfied to remain that way; that you are not ashamed. Tell them that you are an adult now and will not tolerate disrespect of your beliefs or of who you are as a person. If they disrespect you, inform them that their disrespect offends you greatly, and that you will be forced to move out if they continue to disrespect you. If they continue to disrespect you, move out immediately. Otherwise, they will most likely continue to probe you for weakness and will not stop attacking you until they see submission. For your parents to ask questions about what being gay means, or to express concern about AIDS, or to express their feelings of sadness or anger is fine, but for them to try to argue the points that (a) being gay is OK, and (b) you are gay, and are satisfied to remain that way, is not OK. Do not hesitate to move out if they cross your boundaries. Parents can do great psychological damage to one as young and impressionable as yourself. In any event, do not go wild and begin practicing unsafe sex to be rebellious. You could do yourself an even greater harm. Above all, be brave and remember that no one can touch who you are.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Mark S., 30, white, gay <
markseely@aol.com> Houston , TX
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THE QUESTION:
C1: I was in a grocery store and noticed several people in the checkout lanes with thick gold jewelry and expensive Nike apparel. The thing that got me was that they were paying with food stamps. Even their small children were wearing expensive clothes. Why is this?
POSTED MARCH 23, 1998
Jessica G., Lake Orion , MI
(Similar question posted June 24, 1998, by Hard-working taxpayer, 26, white female, Springfield, VA)

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
Don't look at their clothes and jewelry, look in their shopping cart. I lived in Los Angeles all my life, and in my community, there was never a shortage of foodstamp customers before me in line. I have to eat frozen burritos and canned veggies, but they seem to always be able to afford the most expensive cuts of meat and lobster, etc. I once followed a lady out to her car and asked if I could have something from her bag that I paid for. Perhaps Uncle Sam should place restrictions on what can be purchased with "free money."
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Cyd E., 34, white working male, Palmdale, CA
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THE QUESTION:
A29: Why do many teens (and pre-teens to a lesser extent) always try to be individual by attempting to fit in with others? For example, wearing a specific brand of clothes or drinking a certain soft drink. Individuality involves thinking for yourself.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Lawrence R., 16 <
redrum31582@yahoo.com>, Indianapolis, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Humans are basically all the same. Individuality really does not exist, except on the surface. I like Pepsi - you like Coke. I like jazz - you like rock. I like fall - you like spring. The point is this, everyone has the same desires and needs but different tastes in environment and stimulation. Example: We all desire sex. I like brunettes - you like blondes. We all need to eat. I like cheeseburgers - you like pizza. A sincere drive to be an individual (to the point of taking it to an extreme) is a telltale sign of insecurity. Those who don't feel accepted will go to an extreme to prove that they don't need to be accepted so that others will notice them (even scoff or laugh at them - but at least that is attention that is a form of acceptance). Go to BlockBuster and rent the Breakfast Club. The story tells us of five teenagers who appeared to be all different (on the outside) but when they are locked up in a library for an entire Saturday, they discover they are actually all the same.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Ric, 25 <
ricviers@ix.netcom.com>, Sterling Heights, MI
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THE QUESTION:
R340: What is the origin to the stereotype that Hispanics are lazy?
POSTED JUNE 16, 1998
Alex S., 23, Richmond, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I believe most stereotypes, good or bad, have come from Hollywood. In earlier movies, and sometimes even today if you look carefully, Mexicans were cast in subservient, complacent roles. But nothing could be further from the truth. Mexicans and other Hispanics are among the hardest-working cultural groups. We're just not as visible because we are not as vocal. Why do you think the United States has so much illegal immigration from Mexico? Do you think they come here to work at McDonalds? Or be on welfare? Mexicans come here to take the jobs that Americans do not even dare think about. How do you think most American agricultural products get to your dinner table? Illegal Mexicans work the fields, and the sweatshops in large cities, and do all the scut work Americans on welfare refuse to do. Only through perserverance and education do we get the opportunity to achieve that American dream. Or is it only American?
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
David R., 42, Mexican American <
dreb55@msn.com>, Smithfield, VA
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THE QUESTION:
GE93: From a man's point of view, do you think women are treated inferior to men, and if so, how and why?
POSTED NOV. 17, 1998
D. Price <
abqteachr@netscape.net>, Albuquerque, NM

ANSWER 1:
I think women are treated differently in some ways and quite worse in others. Our society abounds with major sins: Wife abuse, double standards, unequal pay, glass ceilings, sexual harassment, marital infidelity, etc. Why men (and in some cases women) mistreat women in these ways is a mystery to me. I cannot imagine striking a female or cheating on my wife, and in the two opportunities I've had to influence hiring decisions, both of my selections for the most qualified candidates (for engineering positions) were female. That said, obviously some people are actively abusing, victimizing or discriminating against women, and the only "why" I can offer you is that we live in a world filled with stupid, ignorant and sometimes evil people who will treat you this way if you let them. I think the more interesting set of issues concerns areas in which society treats women different from men. From chivalry to women in the military to child-rearing/home-making responsibilities to pornography - there are a whole host of areas in which mistreatment is in the eye of the beholder.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Mark, 31 white male, Alexandria, VA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I belong to a professional fraternity, which means we allow men and women to join. But there is one member who will never allow a woman to join as long as he is active. It makes me mad that he won't let a person join just because they don't have a penis. The women he disallows could turn out to be very valuable members of the fraternity. Also, whenever I think about this, I think about the Peabody Club, which, I believe, won't let women join. Just ask yourself if you would like to be treated that way if the tables were turned.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Jeremy, 23, white male <
jeremyjw@engin.umd.umich.edu>, Southfield, Mich.

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I think it is mainly for cultural reasons, and Judeo-Christian religions are the most responsible for that situation. A few centuries ago, for the Roman Catholic religion, women did not even have a soul. For Muslims, women are still considered as inferior to men. In elections, the right for a woman to vote is not very old. Even now, in some Swiss states that is the case. But the main question is about the definition of the word inferior. Inferior, related to what? Is a man inferior to a woman because he cannot give birth? Indeed, women and men are different, physically and psychologically. And in some political, religious, social or ethical matters, it is obvious that women and men should be separated. Not because of level problems, but because in many bi-sexual groups, the implicit sexual competition between women (or men) prevents sincere and efficient relationships.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Franck, 60, French republican <
fdondon@club-internet.fr>, Paris, France
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THE QUESTION:
R541: Why does it seem that many African Americans are so anti-Jewish? Having been the victims of bigotry, it seems odd that so many African-American newspapers and spokespeople (e.g. Farrakhan, Sharpton, etc.) propagate long-discredited anti-Semitic stereotypes.
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Gregg S. 45 <
gregg1@alumni.ksg.harvard.edu>, Boston, MA

ANSWER 1:
I don't hate Jews; my Mom used to take us to temple as kids just to listen to the cantors sing. We always sat in the back row, but no one made us feel we were unwanted or out of place. Also my maiden name is common among Jews and we used to get calls around Hannukah, Passover, etc. from Jews looking for their friends from the old neighborhoods in New York. We were even invited to Seder a few times, until we told them we were a black family. It was a running joke in our family and we so much looked forward to those calls. Also my brother had the same name, graduated high school the same year as a Jewish boy who eventually went on into politics; how we'd laugh when the two were compared.
POSTED DEC. 1, 1998
A.A.W., 42 black female <
ANABWI@aol.com>, Plantation, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
Your suggestion that blacks are anti-Jewish is wrong, grossly distorts black attitudes and is offensive. At 58, I've yet to meet a black I would label anti-Jewish. On the contrary, we have a profound appreciation and empathy for Jewish suffering and have felt a shared understanding of bigotry and hatred. This may be why many blacks are especially irritated by what they perceive today as Jewish indifference to the plights and sufferings of anyone not Jewish. Also, many blacks have long felt that Jewish businesses, operating in or drawing their sustenance from black communities, have not been signficantly inclined to invest anything back into those communities (as a child in Memphis, a common joke among blacks was that Jewish businesses thriving in black neighborhoods woundn't give a black a job sweeping the floor). If these perceptions and feelings have been ill-founded, then blacks would be the first to want to know and to know what the truth in these areas really is.
POSTED DEC. 1, 1998
Floyd L. 58, black male <
lastchild@worldnet.att.net>, Memphis, TN

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
As a young African-American male, I feel that some of the prevailing anti-Semitic sentiments in the African-American community are mostly within an older generational context. My mother is Southern and grew up at time when overt racism was acceptable; subsequently her impressions of whites and Jews today stem from earlier experiences. In my conversations with her and others in her age group, it seems as if many do not deny that African Amercans and Jews should have a more harmonious relationshp because of their past but similar oppressive situations. However, many of them feel as if Jews have historically exploited African Americans, specifically commercially. Nevertheless I have yet to meet anyone of my African-American peers who share similar sentiments to those in an older age group.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Yantee, African-American maile <
Yantee21@hotmail.com,>, Boston, MA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
When we finally have an avenue for people to ask questions they've always wanted to know about other cultures, the questioner gets slapped in the face for asking to begin with! The question was: "Why does it seem that many African-Americans are so anti-Jewish?" If someone asks "Why does it seem that lesbians are confrontational?", how much progress am I going to make by saying the questioner is offensive, anti-gay and homophobic? Would it not make more sense to explain why that assumption is not so? The person was asking a question, not making an unkind statement. Now, I'm going to ask a question, and I'd appreciate if you would really think about it and give a rational answer, because I think others would like to hear it: In the past 10 years, I have heard numerous non-black Americans say that they feel that black Americans are becoming the racists of the 21st Century. Why do you think this is happening? I'll give you a hint: I have heard the same remark directed toward gays, Hispanics and Koreans. I have never heard the remark directed toward Native American Indians.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Alma, lesbian, federal employee <
pridewks@seacove.net>, Kempner, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
To Alma: I cannot tell you why some things "seem" a certain way to you, because I cannot view them through your eyes, and appearences can be deceiving. I can tell you what the truth is, as I see it, and leave it to you to accept or reject my views, which were well laid out in my earlier post. Questions can make powerful statements. In my view an operative point of Gregg S.'s post is "many African Americans are so [i.e., extremely] anti-Jewish." For this African American who is not in any way "anti-Jewish" and knows no other African American who is "so anti-Jewish," the point is so skewed from the truth, as I see it, as to offend. Regardless of a poster's intent, if I feel offended (and I am the best judge of that), then I am offended. If through this forum you truly want, in your words, "to know about other cultures," surely that must include knowledge of what offends as well as what pleases.

As to the rumors of blacks being the "racists of the 21st century," I believe a black or Hispanic or Korean racist is an oxymoron. Your rumors implicitly admit, and rightly so, that these groups have not been the "racists" of the 20th century. Racism is a western European creation, further perfected in the New World, based on beliefs of, and synonymous with, white supremacy. So while blacks, Hispanics and Koreans may prejudge and/or discriminate until they come around to believing and acting on the belief that they are genetically superior to, and therefore more deserving than, other racial groups, and until whites come to disimbue themselves of those views, your blacks, Hispanics and Koreans don't stand a chance of winning the title of "racists of the 21st century," though there may be ongoing attempts to annoint them as such (e.g., as through rumors). The rumors reflect fears that these minority groups will be increasingly important powers players (in the United States) in the 21st century. The need to relinquish some, or often to just share, power is usually greeted with resistance by those in power. The rumors may also be a type of call to arms for those inclined to offer resistence to this inevitable minority press for power. You hear nothing about Native Americans because they are still struggling to recover from near extinction.
POSTED DEC. 3, 1998
Floyd L., 58, black male <
lastchild@worldnet.att.net>, Memphis, TN

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Well, lets see. There are absolutely no anti-Jewish black Americans, yet we have jokes about Jewish Americans, a perceived indifference by Jews toward blacks, a perception that Jews draw sustenance from blacks and return nothing to the community. But, of course, blacks would be the first to know if these perceptions were ill-founded. Oh yeah, thats tolerance.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Alma, gay american <
pridewks@seacove.net>, Kempner, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Gregg's question was a valid one. A recently released study shows that while anti-Semitism is on the decline in the United States, African Americans as a group continue to show high levels of anti-Semitism compared to the population at large. Anti-Semitic African Americans always have an excuse to offer for their attitudes. So do racist Jews. Both attitudes are wrong and immoral, and both groups should know better.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Susan, New York, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
To Floyd L: You say it's offensive that I should even ask why it seems blacks are anti-Semitic. The reason I asked this question is that most black leaders in the United States - Jesse Jackson, members of the Black Caucus, Marion Barry, Andrew Young - and many black newspapers, including the largest, the Amsterdam News - are on record as having made remarks that perpetuate old, racist stereotypes about Jews. When asked to repudiate these statements or disavow the blatant anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan, these mainline black groups refrain from doing do. Furthermore, the Anti-Defamation League conducts a regular poll to measure anti-Semitism in the United States (it's been conducted in 1964, 1981, 1992 and 1998). This year's findings showed that 34 percent of African Americans hold extreme anti-Jewish views, as opposed to 9 percent of whites. Given these facts, I don't see why it is offensive to ask why.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Gregg S., 45 <
gregg1@alumni.ksg.harvard.edu>, Boston, MA

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I had noticed the incongruity contained in the FURTHER NOTICE posted by Floyd L. but decided not to reply because I do not envision the Y? Forum as a forum for debate. Then I saw the FURTHER NOTICE 4 posted by Floyd L.,and am compelled to respond. In his FURTHER NOTICE, Floyd L. says that a suggestion that blacks are anti-Jewish is a distortion and offensive. He further says, "I've yet to meet a black I would label anti-Jewish." He then goes on to tell us why "many blacks" are irritated by several perceptions that are what can only be described as anti-Semitic stereotypes. In his FURTHER NOTICE 4, Floyd L. displays an old saw that minority groups cannot be racists, and that racism is limited to western Europeans, "further perfected in the New World," and is synonymous with "white supremacy." I don't know about "all" or "most" other blacks, but I am pretty sure about Floyd L. If he doesn't believe the term "racist" applies, I'll use another: Bigot. I believe Floyd L is one. He uses the arsenal of the bigot (or racist, if you prefer). He stereotypes. He claims an "appreciation and empathy for Jewish suffering ("some of my best friends are Jews") while excoriating Jews for the stereotypical practices of "Jewish business" in black neighborhoods. Honest dialogue between various groups is essential if we are to reduce mutual misunderstanding. But there can be no honest dialogie if any participant in the debate refuses to acknowledge the attitudes that may prevail within himself or herself or within the individual's group.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Jerry, 65, white Jewish male, Tampa , FL

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THE QUESTION:
GE57: My wife and I are having communication problems in our marriage and have considered a trial separation. Has anyone had any success using this technique? What are some of the dangers involved?
POSTED JULY 21, 1998
D. Bednar, 27 <
dbednar@kc.swbtcc.com>, Kansas City, MO

ANSWER 1:
I believe one of the dangers of a trial separation is that you may lose the resolve to work on the problems you have. You may be so relieved to be away from the daily burden of living with someone in a relationship that isn't working that you don't focus on expending the effort to make sure you try everything you can think of before calling it quits. It's much easier (in a relative way - divorce is the pits) to walk away knowing you have tried every way you can than to have doubts later.
POSTED NOV. 27, 1998
Been there, Knoxville, TN

FURTHER NOTICE:
My husband and I did go through a trial separation, but we talked through it. At first, I was not making the effort to get us back together, and that came through in our discussions. He wrote a very deep emotional letter to me saying he thought I had already decided it was over, but if I could please think carefully about the decision. I did spend some time analyzing what was bothering me and comparing that to all of the good things about our marriage, and decided I wanted to work it out. We discussed our wants and desires and focused on behaviors that bothered us rather than personal attacks. I can honestly say that I believe we are happier and stronger now than ever. And, when we listen to friends talk about their relationships, we realize ours is so much better. As far as the dangers, it really depends /'

zon both of your motives. If you both really want to make it work, I think you can. However, if one has really made his/her mind up that it is over, a true effort won't be made to make it work. That is what happened to me at first. Another option of course is to use a counselor to help with your discussions.
POSTED DEC. 1, 1998
A., female, 34, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
You've heard the saying, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder?" It don't hold water. I was very much in love with my wife when she chose to "have a little time away from me." It was time that made me hurt like hell, and gave her a chance to relieve herself of any emotional involvement with me. It was like living with a cold fish for the few weeks after she returned and before the divorce was in progress. My recommendation: If you love each other, seek counseling before separation. Unless you're incompatible, there should be a way to work things out.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Cyd E., 34, divorced straight white male, Palmdale , CA

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THE QUESTION:
A22: It seems to me that a great many of the Generation X white population have chosen to act like black people. Why is this?
POSTED JULY 22, 1998
Rick, 40ish white guy, Virginia Beach, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Three words: Hip Hop music. Hip Hop influences a great number of Generation X folks. Rap is just a part of Hip Hop. Hip Hop influences the way we dress, speak and relate to one another. White Generation Xers grew up with rap music, so it's only natural they embrace the Hip Hop culture. Also, Hip Hop puts white and black folks on common ground. We all love the music and thus embrace the culture. So don't think of white Gen Xers as acting black; we're just nodding to the same beat. And that's Phat, bangin', off the Hizzy, representin' to the fullest Son.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Merlin, white, Boston, MA

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THE QUESTION:
R539: It seems as though young black males do not approach me because they have seen me with white males. Do black males date black females who have dated or currently date white males? If not, why not?
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
M. Boyd, 18, black female <
jeboyd007@msn.com>, Kansas City, MO

ANSWER 1:
I think that this has much to do with the stigma that is attached to many interracial couples. Generally, I would classify this stigma as something derived from the xenophobia that people possess. As a black male and speaking personally, no, I wouldn't necessarily have issues with someone dating outside of my ethnicity, but I'm sure that there are those who would.
POSTED NOV. 30, 1998
Andre, African-American male <
dreallen@yahoo.com>, New York, NY
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THE QUESTION:
R531: What do others think are American Indians' reasons for joining the military in such high numbers (a quarter are veterans, twice as high as any other group)? Do people who are not American Indian know of their contribution to the military?
POSTED NOV. 21, 1998
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian <
bigi__@yahoo.com>, San Antonio, TX

ANSWER 1:
My unscientific view is that the military attracts a disproportionate number of economically disadvantaged people because often that is the only way for these sort of folks to succeed in life through some type of upward mobility. Either for financial and/or academic reasons, they do not have the option of pursuing a college education, and the military presents the best opportunity for a stable and successful life. As American Indians are disproprtionately of poorer backgrounds, it is not surprising to find many American Indians pursuing military careers and proudly serving and defending the United States. The reasons listed above are also why the military has a disproportionately high number of African Americans and Latino Americans. I am not aware of specific "stories" of specific American Indians heroically serving in battle. However, while I think all military personnel, veterans, POWs and MIAs should be honored equally regardless of race, I think Americans should appreciate the fact that minorities of traditionally poorer backgrounds, including American Indians, have and have had a unique and highly noteworthy role in U.S. military history.
POSTED NOV. 23, 1998
Mihir, (Asian) Indian, 25 <
mishah@vt.edu>, Skokie, IL

FURTHER NOTICE:
I had no idea so many American Indians went into the service. However, I do know that the Army used native-speaking Navajos as signalmen in at least one war, because long, detailed messages could be sent, and the enemy had no way of understanding the language, so it was better than a code. Also, I have been to very few powwows where there wasn't at least one dance honoring veterans in the tribe.
POSTED NOV. 23, 1998
Colette, white female <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Some important reasons, if not the most important, could be jobs, job security and some degree of validation which, for Native Americans, has not been easily come by in this country. Native American contributions to the military have been no less than that of any other group, and of inestimable benefit in many specific instances.
POSTED NOV. 23, 1998
F.L.W., 58, black male <
110555.2423@compuserve.com>, Columbia, Md

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
As a 21-year veteran of the Army, I can tell you that the 25 percent figure quoted for American Indians' military service is not significantly higher than the overall national average, which is usually cited as 20 percent. It is true that upward mobility is much greater in the military. However, it is not true that minorities, including Indians, join the military because they are uneducated (or undereducated). The modern military is very sophisticated. Even the lowly infantryman has to know how to use battlefield computers, MILES systems, satellite communications equipment and a host of other very complex gear. While the military offers much more access to higher education than the civilian sector, because of this it does not enlist dummies. Finally, Indians, in spite of our history, are proud, patriotic Americans and consider the profession of arms to be an honorable one.
POSTED DEC. 1, 1998
Mike, 56, veteran <
mkoessic@bellsouth.net>, Hollywood, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
The answer I was given at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute by a Native American was that it allowed him to be a warrior without violating the laws of the United States. This has been similar to the answers given to me by members of various tribes I have worked with throughout my military career when I have asked them why they joined the military. The tribal affiliations include: Lakota, Cree, Apache and Seminole.
POSTED DEC. 1, 1998
Frank, 31, White Anglo-Spanish Pagan <
gonzalez1@hauns.com>, Alamogordo, NM

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
The contribution of the Navajo (Din'e) Code-Talkers, who used a variant of their language in order to transmit coded messages in the World War Pacific Theater, was crucial in keeping our military secrets safe from the Japanese. It was only recently that the code-talkers were acknowledged by the government, and likewise recognized by the American people. I suppose the long silence about the code-talkers could be explained away as a national security issue, but in my heart, I can't help but believe it was more about the government not wanting to give the Navajo the recognition they deserved.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Shelley, Anglo/Latina/Cherokee = mutt , <
1derwhy@usa.net>, Fort Worth, TX
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THE QUESTION:
GD10: Why are white males more than any group likely to commit crimes like sexual assault, child molestation and sodomy?
POSTED MAY 6, 1998
Angela, 25, Toledo, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I can offer several reasons why males are more likely to be the ones recognized for sexual deviance: 1) Simple biology has made it much more difficult for women to get pleasure from these types of acts (imagine an adult woman trying to have sex with a 10- or 12-year-old, boy for example. It just doesn't work). 2) Women are socialized differently than men. Women are taught to make themselves look attractive to lure men and then work to care for the resulting offspring. Men are encouraged to focus on "getting laid" al ot more. It is this same socialization that has most women hating pornography while most men like it. Men who have trouble in their pursuit of women and the resulting sexual gratification feel they must have sexual gratification in some form; most women don't have to chase men. The men turn to fulfulling their sexual needs elsewhere and usually pick someone/something that offers little or no resistance to their advances. Hence, child molestation, in some cases homosexual behavior, bestiality and so on.
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Calico, 26, married white female, MD

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Sex crimes have less to do with erotica and more to do with issues of power and control. Male sexual aggression is prevalent in all cultures and is therefore not exclusive to white men. In general, we raise boys to "control" their emotions and to be inwardly "strong" and relatively unexpressive. The most common theme among sex offenders is that they 1) have a feeling of being rejected by society 2) experience a sense of uncontrollable rage 3) have a disconnect from reality and are extremely fantasy-oriented 4) have addictions to chemicals, pornography, 5) were themselves victims of abuse and intensive manipulation, or are 6) true serial sociopaths.

Without intensive therapy, most offenders do not view their offenses as "crimes," and most repeat. This is true from priests to pedophiles. Sex with a non-consensual party, especially a child, usually happens as a result of manipulation and persuasion on the part of the offender. These are extremely closeted behaviors that allow the perpetrator the illusion of power, control and temporary gratification. Keep in mind that women do offend as well, but certainly not as frequent. Our children are in trouble because we are a society that is simply not comfortable with educating openly and candidly about the realities of sex and sexuality.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Dee W. black female <
westde@hiram.edu>, Cleveland, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Your question assumes that this is indeed the case. Blanket statement/questions need to have facts behind them. You also list "sodomy" as a crime - which it is not in most states (Georgia's statute was just ruled unconstitutional), Canada and Europe. "Sodomy" is most often used as a code word for homosexuality and then is linked (as Calico's response does) to other deviant behavior, such as child molestation and bestiality. Molestation and incest happen in every ethnic/racial group - it may just be that "white males" are more visible to you than other groups. There's still the perception out there that black men "prey" on white women, which is as nonsensical as the "gay recruitment" theory.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
Michael, 37, gay white male <
txmichael@worldnet.att.net>, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
In response to the wording of Angela's question: I would not include sodomy in a list with sexual assault and child molestation. Both sexual assault and child molestation are acts that have victims - they are crimes perpetrated by people wrongfully exerting their power over the less powerful. Sodomy, outlawed in some states but not in others, can take place between heterosexuals and homosexuals who are consenting adults. Also, Calico's depiction of homosexual behavior as deviant, as a need for "frustrated straight men" (forgive me if my assumption is incorrect) to fulfill their sexual appetites grossly belittles the loving, monogamous relationships many homosexuals successfully maintain despite the general lack of support found in American society. I know of no straight men who turn to other men for sexual gratification simply due to being unlucky with women. Child molestation, bestiality and homosexual behavior cannot and should not be equated. As a homosexual, I have many behaviors not any different from "heterosexual behaviors." If the reference was to sex between two men who may love each other, it could not be more different from the other aforementioned crimes.
POSTED DEC. 2, 1998
J.B., gay male <
beau_mec@rocketmail.com>, Tampa, FL
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THE QUESTION:
R538: Would a college-age Japanese woman be offended by a birthday card with a cartoon animal on it, such as a bear? Also, what are Japanese customs concerning gift-giving to friends (in Japan and overseas)?
POSTED NOV. 29, 198
Tamara O., female, IL

ANSWER 1:
I can't speak to customs of gift-giving. I do know that the indigenous people of Japan, the Ainu, consider the bear sacred. Maybe your friend considers cartoons of bears degrading or offensive for that reason.
POSTED NOV. 30, 1998
Dave, 36, white male <
david.drewes@apwesa.com>, Wales, WI

FURTHER NOTICE:
First off, a Japanese woman of college age would be delighted with any card, especially one from outside of Japan. Don't worry about it. The bear is not a problem at all; in fact, it is quite appropriate, as Japanese people in general, and women in particular, place a far greater value on "cuteness" than most Americans. "Kawai-i!" (cute) is accepted much more broadly in Japan, and it is applied across age and gender lines to an extent that would draw instant ridicule in the United States. As for Japanese gift-giving customs, buy a book. Several, large books, preferably. Study all you want, you still won't really understand. Japanese people have an astonishing assortment of complex, nuanced, formalized gift-giving customs. Relax, though - you aren't Japanese, so you aren't expected to conform. A gift that somehow recalls or memorializes any aspect of your relationship to the receiver will be greatly appreciated.
POSTED NOV. 30, 1998
Geoff <
boston@eolas-net.ne.jp>, Asahikawa, Japan
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THE QUESTION:
D15: Our family was recently at the community pool. Our five-year-old son saw a little girl swimming who had lost her hand in some sort of accident. He was petrified when he saw it and ran under a towel for the rest of the time we were there. Now he's nervous about going back to the pool. When we asked him why he was upset about it, he said it scared him and he wanted to know if the girl was going to be OK. What would be the best thing to say to him to make him less fearful of this girl and this type of situation in the future?
POSTED JUNE 17, 1998
R.D., white female, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Educate your son about different handicaps. I coached a 7- to 10-year-old softball team for girls last summer, and one of my all-star players had only one arm. Two years ago she had a tumor in her arm, and it had to be removed from the shoulder down. She was an excellent player, and I was proud to have her on my team. Remember, handicaps can be very scary for children who do not understand them. Children also respond as they see other adults respond. Maybe you could tell him about different people with handicaps who do the same things anyone else can do.
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Tina S. <
tinaschroeder@yahoo.com>, New Haven, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I am blind, and I feel that many people think that someone who may have a physical limitation is somehow different from them. They are not, and in fact are humans with feelings and interests just like you. Having a physical limitation doesn't mean they cannot do anything or are stupid, it just means they may have different methods of doing day-to-day tasks. I know that I enjoy people talking to me and don't mind people asking questions because I feel I can possibly get them over their fears. So I thank you in taking this approach in telling your son not to be afraid of the little girl he saw in the pool. I only wish more parents would take the same approach you have.
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Carlos T. <
cetaylor@bsu.edu>, South Bend, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
Hooray for you and your wife for taking a good, common-sense approach. When others see someone who is handicapped, they often shy away and won't (or are afraid to) see them as people just as you and I. I can say this because I am deaf, and my son and daughter are also deaf.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
Lindsay H. <
lindsay_horton@hotmail.com>
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THE QUESTION:
SO100: Recently a friend I assumed was heterosexual told me she had strong feelings for another woman and that she didn't know whether she was homosexual or bisexual. How have other people reacted to finding out about friends who are homosexual or bisexual?
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Kate H., 34, heterosexual female, Sacramento, CA
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THE QUESTION:
D17: I would like to know why being fat has such a negative connotation in our society. It seems to bring out a "wounded bird in the flock" reaction in some people. "Fat slob" or "lazy, fat slob"; these words almost go together automatically. Do we ever say "skinny slob" or "lazy, tall slob"? Being skinny, tall, short, bald, long-haired, etc. doesn't carry the same insult. Being fat is almost synonymous with being disgusting. I've struggled for years to improve and maintain my self-worth in a world that says I'm defective and disgusting. What's up?
POSTED JUNE 24, 1998
38-year-old mom, fat, married and loved, Overeaters Anonymous member, Long Beach, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I think it comes down to the fact that being fat is more or less a choice (I realize losing weight is much more difficult for some people than others). It's not like being tall. Like it or not, in our culture, being thin (or at least not drastically obese) is like wearing nice clothes or keeping up personal grooming. And while there are medical conditions that can cause obesity, the overweight people I've known pretty much eat all the time and don't exercise. Is it all that unfair to consider them lazy?
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Aiken, male, 31, Monterey, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
First of all, you need to assess your feelings about yourself first. Do you think you're "fat," "lazy" or a "slob"? You allow this hurt to yourself. You must love yourself before anyone else can.
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Tina, female, R.N., 27 <
beaniejet27@yahoo.com>, Lenox, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I think Americans value hard work. Someone overweight is seen as someone who is not working or contributing to society; they are not taking care of themselves or "carrying their own weight" in the community. They are seen as people who sit home, eat, sleep and do little or nothing. Others are picking up their workload. This is resented and interpreted as "fat equals lazy" and undesirable.
POSTED DEC. 1, 1998
Leigh, average white girl <
Donam@gate.net>, Tampa, Fl

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
I also am a large woman. I have learned several things about people's reactions. Rarely are they meant to hurt. It is a response to fear. People are afraid of those who are not like themselves. You can choose to accept the "fat, ugly, lazy" stereotype, or you can choose to be the individual you are. Give the frightened a chance to learn who your are, and not your image. As I heard the other day, just because somebody says you're a chair, that doesn't make you a chair.
POSTED DEC. 4, 1998
S.Wild, 45, Southeast Missouri <
swild@ldd.net>, Sikeston, MO
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THE QUESTION:
GD18: Why does is seem to be OK for TV shows to make fun of Italians or the Irish or whomever, but that when it comes to making fun of Jews, it becomes a huge issue?
POSTED JUNE 17, 1998
Ana B., 27, American, New Haven, CT

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
For the same reasons we can't make fun of blacks: 1) they have a background of having many of their race killed or persecuted due to racism; 2) racism against blacks and Jews is as strong as ever in this country; 3) as a result of their continuing fear and persecution, they cannot be comfortable hearing any more negativity about their race (and who can blame them?); 4) of all the minority groups, who do you think has the most influence on what is shown on television? I think it is the Jewish people, due primarily to their money and connections in the industry, and the black people, due primarily to their sheer numbers in the United States.
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Calico, married to a Jewish man, 26, MD
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