Best of the Week
of Dec. 29, 2002

Best of Week ArchivesArchives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Dec. 29, 2002, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s database using the search form , or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. You are encouraged to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.  

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Question:

Do African Americans actually celebrate Kwanzaa? What do you do?
POSTED 12/22/2002
Jason C., Los Angeles, CA, United States, Male, Christian, Asian, Gay, Student, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1212200251805


Responses:

Kwanzaa is quite real. Although I am not African American, I know it is because I was instructed to write a three-page article on it for an underground newspaper I write for. Kwanzaa is really ritualistic; you set tables with symbolic items, and each day you have a celebration, like a poetry reading, for example. Some people exchange gifts, but Kwanzaa isn't big on materialism.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Margee, New Orleans, MA, United States, <iyellvulgarthings@myself.com>, 15, Female, American Indian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 12232002113628


I think Kwanzaa is ridiculous. I think God would be totally offended by this BS version of Christmas. It's another 'blackness' trip black people are going on.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Melissa, Antioch, CA, United States, 21, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1224200241510


Not all African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. I'm not quite sure if you're educated about the holiday, so let me give you background information. First, people of African descent, from the Caribbean, and other parts of the African Diaspora celebrate Kwanzaa, not just African Americans. During Kwanzaa, black people reaffirm commitment to themselves, their families, community and the black struggle for equality. With that said, Kwanzaa IS celebrated, but again, not by all African Americans. For example, I celebrate Christmas because I am a Christian.

POSTED 12/30/2002

EVIJ, Kansas City, MO, United States, 17, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Student, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200212625


I'm an African American whose parents are from Ghana, West Africa. I have never and never will celebrate Kwanzaa. We are Christians and celebrate Christmas. I don't know any other African Americans who celebrate this 'holiday.' I can't honestly say that I/we fully understand the reason behind the creation of a new celebration. I have noticed that a lot of blacks in America often try to make superficial connections to the 'mother land.' Perhaps this is yet another means in attaining that goal.

POSTED 12/30/2002

A. Osei, Houston, TX, United States, 23, Female, Pentecostal, Black/African American, Straight, teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200244608


Kwanzaa was founded in California in the 1960s to increase awareness in the pride of African Americans. Seven candles are lit, similar to a Jewish menorah, and each candle represents a belief or matter of pride that African Americans hold (or should hold) dearly. I don't know people who celebrate it as a holiday on the same level as Christmas, but I do know many families that use this holiday as a method to increase awareness and pride to their families.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Neveen, Atlanta, GA, United States, Mesg ID 1224200293918


It's like anything else, some do and some don't. I don't, but I'm single, and holidays don't mean much to single people. Well, not to some. I doubt, no, I know, that I wouldn't celebrate it under any circustances. I've never felt that strong of a need to do things like that.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Nathan, Seattle, WA, United States, 30's, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 12242002103845


As an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message that speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Kwanzaa is a seven-day festival celebrating the African-American people, their culture and their history. It is a time of celebration, community gathering and reflection. A time of endings and beginnings. Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26 and continues until New Year's Day.

The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa are:

Umoja (oo-MOH-jah): Unity. Success starts with Unity. Unity of family, community, nation and race.

Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah): Self-Determination. To be responsible for ourselves. To create your own destiny.

Ujima (oo-JEE-mah): Collective work and responsibility. To build and maintain your community together. To work together to help one another within your community.

Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH): Collective economics. To build, maintain, and support our own stores, establishments, and businesses.

Nia (NEE-ah): Purpose. To restore African-American people to their traditional greatness. To be responsible to Those Who Came Before (our ancestors) and to Those Who Will Follow (our descendants).

Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah): Creativity. Using creativity and imagination to make your communities better then what you inherited.

Imani (ee-MAH-nee): Faith. Believing in our people, our families, our educators, our leaders, and the righteousness of the African American struggle.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Alex, Houston, TX, United States, <green_outlaw@hotmail.com>, 19, Female, Mesg ID 12252002123710


I do not believe many African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. Many do not know how to celebrate it, and many do not even know what Kwanzaa is beyond a holiday in December. I teach 7th grade and many of the students do not know what it is, so I know their parents probably don't celebrate it. I celebrate Kwanzaa with my family, but I had to do the research to find out the principles and how to celebrate it. We are all so caught up with Christmas that I don't believe we take the time or energy to deal with Kwanzaa, since it comes directly after Christmas. I wish more African Americans would celebrate it or at least incorporate some of its principles into their holiday season. Harambee!

POSTED 12/30/2002

Babylove, Atlanta, GA, United States, Mesg ID 1225200210315


Not that I know of. I don't even think a lot of them even know how to celebrate it.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Leo, Hyattsville, MD, United States, 29, Male, Catholic, Bi-Racial, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 12252002101454


I am mixed (black and white), and as a family we have not celebrated Kwanzaa. My family does not celebrate it, none of my African-American friends celebrate it, nor do we have any Kwanzaa-related programs at my college. So, the answer is no.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Tiff, Cleveland, OH, United States, 21, Female, Baptist, Black/White, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1226200232437


I don't.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Z. Michael, Springfield, MA, United States, 19, Male, Pentecostal, Black/African American, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 12272002121857


I celebrate it. My whole school does.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Hannahlore, St. Louis, MO, United States, <tomoehotaru2004@yahoo.com>, 17, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1227200224033


I am African American and don't celebrate Kwanzaa, probably because I did not celebrate it growing up, so it's not a tradition for me. I do know some African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa in various ways. Some attend programs or Kwanzaa balls or send Kwanzaa cards. It is probably more common in larger cities. There's a whole web site about Kwanzaa as well.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Maya, St. Paul, MN, United States, 49, Female, Episcopalian, Black/African American, Straight, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1227200274639


Many African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. In fact, just today in my state there was a huge Kwanzaa celebration. During this special celebration, we light candles and spend time with our family and loved ones. It's a really special time when many African Americans take time to observe their heritage.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Briana, Newton, KS, United States, 14, Female, Mennonite, Straight, Student, Less than High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1229200213358


Many black people do not celebrate Kwanzaa. I do not because it was only created a few years ago. Plus most blacks are Christians, so we celebrate Christmas.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Eric L., San Diego, CA, United States, <carnel@mail.com>, 17, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1229200240622

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Question:
 
Why do Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary when the Bible clearly states that all power is in Jesus? Mary was merely a vessel God used to bring forth His Son. Once Christ was crucified, no more is mentioned about Mary in the Bible. The Bible states that there is one mediator between God and man, and that's Christ Jesus. I rarely hear a Catholic speak of Jesus; it's always Mary.
POSTED 12/22/2002
Redeemed One, Newport News, VA, United States, 54, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1220200250959


Responses:

Just as Mormons have been distracted from Christ with Joseph Smith, so have Catholics been distracted by Mary. My grandfather is Catholic, and I am Methodist. I have posed your question to him many times. He has the same answer every time: 'Mary and the Saints can intervene to Christ for you.' I don't believe that. It is sad that as Christian people Catholics do not believe they can talk to Christ directly. Christ is indeed the only mediator between you and God, and the only one by which man can reach God.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Melinda S., Springfield, VA, United States, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Middle class, Mesg ID 12242002123202


Obviously you have not talked to many Catholics. I am only 17 and know that Jesus is prayed to much more than Mary. The reason, however, that some may pray to Mary is that she was the mother of Jesus and was able to allow him to grow inside her. She was chosen from among all women to uphold the ideals of God and produce a child of such honesty, wisdom and holiness. She is not just a vessel but a woman of grace and is prayed to because she sits at the right hand of the Father and is the most important saint in Jesus's life. He may have had the most high Father, God, but he praised his mother, and so should we.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Ginger, Grass Valley, CA, United States, 17, Female, Mesg ID 1224200250726


I received some instruction in Catholicism as a child, and I think the idea is to communicate with God through a more human intermediary. Where does the Bible state that Jesus is the only intermediary? Usually when I hear a Christian making that argument, they either can't refer to a specific passage, or the passage is very vague. And bear in mind that God did NOT write the Bible; human witnesses wrote it, edited it to suit their prejudices, and translated it badly. I've also heard that the focus on Mary is a tradition going back to goddess worship in Rome before mainstream acceptance of Christianity. Also, as a woman, I am offended by your referring to Mary as a 'vessel.' I hope that is not the way you view your own body. Finally, if you believe that Mary's influence is overestimated because she is human, how could you possibly use your own human judgment to speak for God when you call yourself 'Redeemed One'?

POSTED 12/30/2002

Cathy, New York, NY, United States, 24, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 12262002120323


Actually we only speak of Mary once, and it is during a prayer to honor Mary for the sacrifice of bearing us her son. It is also the only time a woman is honored in the Bible. I believe the reason for this is to show the importance of women in general; if there were no Mary (mother) there would be no Jesus (child). It is to teach us to honor and respect women and mothers.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Patrick D., Kansas City, MO, United States, <burbonsnlacs411@yahoo.com>, 25, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Software Engineer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 12272002125155


Veneration of Mary, whom we view as the Mother of God, is as old as the Church itself. You mention the Bible. Christ founded a Church; only later did the Church decide what books were to be contained in the Bible. So if you believe the Bible, you indirectly, at least, acknowledge the authority of the Church. The Church has always honored Mary, sought her intercession and held her up as the perfect Christian; true, the Bible says little about Mary, but it is the Church's perennial practice we should look to, not the Bible alone. Catholics say this 'Church' is the Catholic Church; Orthodox say it is the Orthodox Church; Protestants pretty much ignore the first 15 centuries of the Church altogether, blithely dismissing much of it as the 'Dark Ages.' Not to honor Mary and seek her intercession would go against 20 centuries of Catholic and Orthodox tradition. I am not clear on how someone can accept the Bible and ignore the first 15 centuries; frankly, most people have never given this much thought.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 42, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian

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Question:

Why do some Chinese men grow their pinkie fingernail long?
POSTED 12/22/2002
Ashley, Temecula, CA, United States, 21, Female, White/Caucasian, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1222200220503


Responses:

Not only Chinese men do that. Black men do, too. My brothers have really long pinky nails.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Camille, Warren, OH, United States, <lafalot07@cs.com>, 14, Female, Black/African American, Straight, middle school student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200225423


In all my 24 years, I have seen only three to five Chinese guys with long pinkie nails. However, I have noticed that they use their over-growned pinkie nail to shovel up cocaine or some other drug substance.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Ricky, Chicago, IL, United States, Male, Asian, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200260409


Chinese men grow their last pinky nail so they can pick their noses. I'm serious: my uncle does it all the time, and it sickens me.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Ellen, Chicago, IL, United States, 17, Female, Christian, Asian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200270610


Being a Chinese American, I have never heard nor seen what you're talking about. My roommate, who is half white and half Bangladeshian, grows his pinkie nail out to make tasks such as opening letters or packages easier. I think it's gross.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Jason, San Francisco, CA, United States, 21, Male, Asian, Student, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1224200272246


In Chinese - I should say ancient - culture, each finger or groups of fingers are specialized in working with or doing something to a specific human orifice. For instance, the index and middle fingers are used to clean the anus, the ring finger is kept clean, and the pinky is used to cleanse the nostrils. Hence the longer fingernail for simple practicality.

POSTED 12/30/2002

John, Mahwah, NJ, United States, Male, Mesg ID 1224200251002


I am a Chinese male and don't see such a practice in the States or back home, so I guess you are looking at some unique cases. However, back in the days of the Chin dynasty, people did grow their nails in order to show their wealth, i.e. they had long nails to show they didn't have to do any work for themselves and were rich enough to hire maids.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Eddie, Austin, TX, United States, 22, Male, Taoist, Chinese, Straight, Students, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1225200215119


It's done, of course, to snort cocaine; that's why my uncle grows his: to put the coke on the nail and sniff it.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Jenny, n/a, CA, United States, 16, Female, Atheist, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1225200294445


According to my mother, it's to pick their nose more easily.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Sarah C., San Francisco, CA, United States, 25, Female, Agnostic, Asian, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1226200262301


I think the reason is class-based; it's a subtle way of indicating that one doesn't have to do hard physical work (i.e. farming). Either that, or they do it simply because it makes picking the crud out of their nose and ear easier.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Nick, Chicago, IL, United States, 20, Male, Student, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 1227200263918

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Question:

Why do white girls not have butts?
POSTED 12/22/2002
Bunnie, Chattanooga, TN, United States, <sweetladie838@aol.com>, 15, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 129200224603


Responses:

Not all white girls have flat butts. Black people are always talking about being stereotyped by whites, so I don't think a black person should be doing it.

POSTED 12/26/2002

Goatman, Wichita, KS, United States, 19, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200214255


I have gone out with girls with butts and girls without butts. I like it better without; those girls tend to exercise more and be more active.

POSTED 12/26/2002

Jason, Springfield, MA, United States, 21, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200245441


Have you ever seen a good-looking fat white girl? I just don't think white women can carry it off. Every fat white girl I've seen looks terrible. The light just hits the cellulite and the ripples and the jiggles...ugh. Whereas, if I see a full-figured lady of any other race, they look good! There's no cellulite, very little jiggle, and on them it looks like muscle, as though they're bigger and fuller. They don't look fat. I suppose it's just the luck of the draw, but trust me, I hope my butt never gets any bigger - it's plenty big already.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Jane, Brooklyn, NY, United States, 24, Female, Christian, European-American, Straight, illustrator, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1224200285021


I don't know where you live, but it's not like that around D.C. True, there are a lot of whites who don't appear to have the same equipment that a lot of Sistas have (course, there are a lot of black women who are pretty flat back there, too), but it's just flat wrong to say that white girlz ain't got no back. Without going into a whole lot of supposition and speculation about this genetic attribute, and that slavery-era breeding program, let's just say that there seem to be some physical attributes in which we differ from our fair-skinned brethren. But don't take that to mean that it's OK to accept even strictly physical stereotypes without questioning them. Keep your eyes (and mind) open.

POSTED 12/30/2002

Jay, n/a, VA, United States, 42, Male, Atheist, Black/African American, Straight, technical writer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1225200213618


I am a white woman, and let me tell you, I have an ass. The rest of me is tiny, and then there's my bubble butt, which I inherited from my father, who is half white and half Native American (and no, I don't think it has anything to do with our race ... that's just a stereotype).

POSTED 12/31/2002

Amber, Tempe, AZ, United States, 20, Female, Baptist, part native american/ part white, Straight, student/ developmental care, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200215733


I think genetics plays the biggest role. Of course you would have to take into consideration diet, exercise, etc. However, in comparing two similar-sized people with similar lifestyle habits, I would think that genetics would be the biggest influencer.

POSTED 12/31/2002

Ladybug, Madison, WI, United States, 24, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, biological research, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1224200240210


Some of my best white girlfriends have the biggest butts I have ever seen. Are you oblivious?

POSTED 12/31/2002

Ginger, Grass Valley, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 1224200250951


Because they are physically active. I am not speaking for all white females, but they have a diet of high protein and rich carbohydrates, therefore creating a lot more muscle mass rather then fat mass.

POSTED 12/31/2002

Joe O' Brien, Milwaukee, WI, United States, <obrienatjo@aol.com>, 24, Male, Straight, roofer/painter, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1225200213626


White women have butts, they're just not all overgrown. I'm not saying that all black women have overgrown butts, as that would be stereotyping. Some white women have huge butts, just like some black women have small butts. It just may be that the ratio of large butts to small butts may be disproportionate in certain races.

POSTED 12/31/2002

Mousey, Milwaukee, WI, United States, 22, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1227200211508

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Question:
 
Why do Jews and Catholics usually support Democratic candidates in elections? It would seem that the Democrats' (particularly the extremely liberal segment) stand on Israel and abortion respectively would be totally opposite of what Jews and Catholics believe in.
POSTED 12/22/2002
Kathy, Springfield, IL, United States, 50, Female, White/Caucasian, Medical, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1221200251826

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Question:
 
Why do white people let their children use profanity toward them? When I say children, I mean between the ages of 5 to adulthood. I can't for the life of me understand why you let them do this to you. Do you not think it's disrespectful? Or do you think it's just a way of expression?
POSTED 12/22/2002
Bambie, Raleigh, NA, United States, 34, Female, Baptist, Native American/African American, Straight, Pharmeceuticals, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1221200253417

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