Best of the Week
of Dec. 29, 2002
Best of Week
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.
First-time users should first make a quick stop
at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and
The book on Y? is
"Why Do White People Smell
Like Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"
Order it here!
Read the Associated Press story
on "Wet Dogs"
Do African Americans actually celebrate Kwanzaa? What do you
Jason C., Los Angeles, CA, United States, Male, Christian, Asian,
Gay, Student, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID
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.
Margee, New Orleans,
MA, United States, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 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
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.
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
A. Osei, Houston, TX,
United States, 23, Female, Pentecostal, Black/African American,
Straight, teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID
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.
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.
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:
Unity. Success starts with Unity. Unity of family, community, nation
(koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah): Self-Determination. To be responsible for
ourselves. To create your own destiny.
Collective work and responsibility. To build and maintain your
community together. To work together to help one another within your
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).
Creativity. Using creativity and imagination to make your communities
better then what you inherited.
Faith. Believing in our people, our families, our educators, our
leaders, and the righteousness of the African American
Alex, Houston, TX,
United States, <email@example.com>, 19, Female, Mesg ID
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.
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.
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.
Tiff, Cleveland, OH,
United States, 21, Female, Baptist, Black/White, Straight, student, 4
Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1226200232437
Springfield, MA, United States, 19, Male, Pentecostal, Black/African
American, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID
I celebrate it. My
whole school does.
Hannahlore, St. Louis,
MO, United States, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 17, Female,
Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Lower middle class, Mesg
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.
Maya, St. Paul, MN,
United States, 49, Female, Episcopalian, Black/African American,
Straight, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg
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
Briana, Newton, KS,
United States, 14, Female, Mennonite, Straight, Student, Less than
High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID
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
Eric L., San Diego, CA,
United States, <email@example.com>, 17, Male, Christian,
Black/African American, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Upper
middle class, Mesg ID 1229200240622
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.
Redeemed One, Newport News, VA, United States, 54, Female,
Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg
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.
Melinda S., Springfield, VA, United States, Female, Christian,
White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Middle class, Mesg ID
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
Ginger, Grass Valley, CA, United States, 17, Female, Mesg ID
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
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.
Patrick D., Kansas City, MO, United States,
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, 25, Male, White/Caucasian,
Straight, Software Engineer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg
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.
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 42, Male, Catholic,
Why do some Chinese men grow their pinkie fingernail long?
Ashley, Temecula, CA, United States, 21, Female, White/Caucasian,
High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1222200220503
Not only Chinese men do that. Black men do, too. My brothers have
really long pinky nails.
Camille, Warren, OH, United States, <email@example.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
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.
Ellen, Chicago, IL, United States, 17, Female, Christian, Asian,
Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID
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.
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.
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
Eddie, Austin, TX, United States, 22, Male, Taoist, Chinese,
Straight, Students, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID
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.
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.
Sarah C., San Francisco, CA, United States, 25, Female, Agnostic,
Asian, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID
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.
Nick, Chicago, IL, United States, 20, Male, Student, 2 Years of
College, Mesg ID 1227200263918
Why do white girls not have butts?
Bunnie, Chattanooga, TN, United States,
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, 15, Female, Christian, Black/African
American, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle
class, Mesg ID 129200224603
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.
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
Jason, Springfield, MA, United States, 21, Male, Catholic,
White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID
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
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.
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
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.
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?
Ginger, Grass Valley, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID
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
Joe O' Brien, Milwaukee, WI, United States,
<email@example.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.
Mousey, Milwaukee, WI, United States, 22, Female, Agnostic,
White/Caucasian, Bisexual, student, 2 Years of College, Middle class,
Mesg ID 1227200211508
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.
Kathy, Springfield, IL, United States, 50, Female, White/Caucasian,
Medical, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID
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
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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