The Osgood File
June 16, 1998

Commentary: Web site created for people of all ethnic backgrounds to ask questions about and to people of other races

Osgood File
CBS, Inc. Burrelle's Information Services
(Copyright (c) 1998 CBS, Inc. All rights reserved.)

GIL GROSS reporting:

THE OSGOOD FILE, sponsored in part by Snorp. I'm Gil Gross for the vacationing Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.

The president's town hall meetings on race are well-meant. Some say they're politically biased. But one man thinks they're just too highfalutin. Find out how lowfalutin things can get after this word from Charles.

(Announcements)

GROSS: On the Internet, where you don't have to ask something to someone's face, there is a running conversation on about all the preconceptions and stereotypes we have about one another based on race, ethnicity, sex and what have you.

Mr. PHILLIP MILANO: Just occurred to me that it would be a--maybe it'd be a good thing if people could ask these kinds of questions in a--sort of a safe environment, and the Web is really perfect for that.

GROSS: And so Jacksonville, Florida, newspaper editor Phillip Milano started Y?, The National Forum On People ' s Differences , where people get to ask what they really wanna know.

Mr. MILANO: One of the--one question I got that what--got a lot of response was, why do--why do white people smell like wet dogs when they come in out of the rain?

GROSS: Milano says that question seemed so bizarre, he wasn't going to post it until he checked with several black friends, who said, `Yeah, Phil, that's something we talk about.'

Mr. MILANO: And tha--and that's just the tip of the i--of the iceberg, Gil. I mean, I've--I've gotten questions--one question I got a big--that got an interesting response was, `Is it--is it more fun kissing larger lips than--than kissing smaller lips?' The question was--implied, you know, to a black person. Well, one person answered, you know, basically, `I'm kind of offended by that. Of course, that's not true.' And then another person who's black said, `Wait a second. It is true. It is funner. There's more lip there to work with.'

GROSS: Milano says about 5 percent of the stuff he gets just stems from hate, another 10 percent from anger, but the rest, he says, are amazingly polite answers to amazingly uncomfortable questions.

Mr. MILANO: No, I'm finding that the question--the question is put out there into the ether or whatever, and I--sometimes I wince even posting some of these things. But inevitably, you know, when the answers come, you--when you look at the an--the total package, you--you see a learning experience there. And I'm--I guess I'm hoping that maybe in some--in--in my little, small way here, I can help to change the ground rules for how people talk about this stuff.

GROSS: Is America really ready for this sort of exchange? Maybe not, but if you are, the address is www.yforum.com.

THE OSGOOD FILE. I'm Gil Gross on the CBS Radio Network.