Home / Archives / Race/Ethnicity Questions 181-190

Race/Ethnicity Questions 181-190

THE QUESTION:
R190: I am a recruiter and meet a great number of college-educated professionals. I give presentations and offer jobs to a wide variety of people. Why will white prospects with marginal qualifications assume they are extremely qualified for a position, while black or minority applicants with better overall qualifications doubt their ability to obtain the same position?
POSTED APRIL 16, 1998
G. Snells, 32, black male, Miami, Fl

ANSWER 1:
I’ve always heard you should never give an interviewer the impression you are afraid you can’t handle or are unqualified for any part of a job. You should concentrate on what you can do and convince the interviewer that everything else will be easy for you to pick up on the job. I’ve been told that many interviewers “test” you to see if they can talk you out of applying by telling you about your lack of qualifications, and that they are just seeing how serious you are about your application:. If you don’t insist you are the right applicant, you won’t get the job. If you do insist, you can convince the interviewer you have enough self-confidence and ability to handle the job and may even be chosen for a position over a more qualified candidate by selling your personality rather than your qualifications. So all those white guys you interview are probably aware they aren’t fully qualified but will never admit it in an interview.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Colette, 32, white <inkwolf@earthlink.net>
Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE:
White female applicants as well as minority applicants can easily be put off-balance by an interviewer who seems to question their capability. White men have generally been socialized, beginning at home and through school, to believe there is nothing they can’t do, and to put themselves confidently forward – even if they may not actually be qualified. Minorities and women have generally not been socialized in the same way, and come across as less confident – and therefore less competent – in an interview situation.
POSTED APRIL 20, 1998
Carol, white, 65, civil rights consultant <carbob@modempool.com>
Jackson, MI
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R189: Why do white people smell like wet dogs when they come out of the rain?
POSTED APRIL 15, 1998
Cass, Detroit, MI

ANSWER 1:
White people may “smell like wet dogs” if they have been in the rain for the same reason dogs smell, although I’d like to think they (dogs) smell worse. The texture of most white people’s hair is soft and absorbs a lot of dirt and odors, as do dogs’ fur. I’m not sure why it is when the hair is wet that it brings the odor out, but it does seem to do that in hair that is unclean. Keep in mind that the average white person has to wash their hair every day to keep it clean. Personally, my hair absorbs everything around me: Food odors, smoke, etc.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Anonymous <epona7@hotmail.com>
Ann Arbor, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
Given that I’ve smelled a fair number of wet dogs and also quite a few wet white people, I feel secure in stating white people don’t usually smell like wet dogs. Unless, of course, the white person smelled like a dry dog before she/he got wet. If white people are dirty, they usually smell worse than dogs. So do blacks.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Will H., white, 48, Dallas, Texas

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
The only reason I could give you for some white people smelling like “dogs” is that they are not clean. I know that personally, I either smell like my laundry detergent, shampoo, cologne or hair care products.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Jessica, white, Orion Township, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
The smell can be either that mentioned, or that of the sanitary smell of a hospital. It can even be nauseating. I’ve discussed it with a couple of white women I’ve dated and showered with. They can’t smell it (of course) and don’t understand it. Neither do I. It seems more pronounced in Europeans. Strangely, it’s one of the things that prevents me from continuing to date my Caucasian female friends (to the applause of most of my black female friends).
POSTED APRIL 21, 1998
James G. <detroitcity@geocities.com>
Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I never knew we smelled like wet dogs. I struck me rather funny actually. And I do like the smell of my wet Golden Retreiver. I guess I’m white bread through and through (laughing). I will have to keep my sniffer tuned to wet white people to see if I can tell.
POSTED APRIL 24, 1998
M. Miller <hookit@mich.com>
Oak Park, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Different people have different body odors. This is a genetic issue, as people probably smell like their parents. When I wrestled in high school and college, the odor of black wrestlers was very strong and different than that of white opponents. To no surprise, whites’ smell was more natural to me than that of blacks’. I believe there are similarities in the overall, very general sense of odors. After all, races share other physical traits, primarily color, hair and blood type. Why would a chemically induced trait such as smell be different? Obviously we are talking about clean people here. Dirty people just plain stink, regardless of their color.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
B., 22, white male, Kokomo, IN
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R188: Is it true that black people hoot and holler more at the movies than white people do?
POSTED APRIL 15, 1998
Yoinksta, 15, male, Greendale, WI

ANSWER 1:
Similar patterns of racial differences in vocalization can be seen in the context of worship. Northern Europeans tend to express their appreciation for a presentation (entertainment, worship, grief, etc.) in a quiet and demure fashion. Southern Europeans (those from warmer climates?) are more vociferous than their northern counterparts. Perhaps the warmer the clime and the darker the skin, the greater the immediate response to pleasure.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
M.P., Ann Arbor, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
To M.P.: Surely this is a matter of culture rather than race. To suggest that darker-skinned peoples from warmer climes are naturally more emotional or impulsive is offensive even to my light-skinned, cool-climed self.
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
A. Morgan, Houston

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I can safely answer this one from past encounters. Black folks do tend to make more noise in a movie theater than whites, but before anybody flies off the handle, let me qualify this by stating it is predominantly the lower classes in black society that do so. Upper- and middle-class blacks wouldn’t dream of hooping and hollering in a theater any more than white folks. However, young blacks do make noise and do dance around when something excites them, and I will not choose to see a movie in which I expect a young black crowd, or a young white crowd really, to be in attendance. Call that racist, call that what you will. I feel it is simply a respect problem. These kids don’t really care if you are trying to watch a film, and they feel the need to express themselves. Citing cultural reasons that stretch back a thousand years to Africa, as M.P. above did, is a bit far-fetched.
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
Truthseeker

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
At a Ziggy Marley concert, I experienced the loudest hooting and hollering I’ve ever heard. That was from the white people. But you will never hear me say that because of their color they have a “greater reaction” to pleasure. To Truthseeker: I agree with your statement completely. In New York City, some young blacks would bring and play their radios in the theater. I too would avoid the “youngsters” of any race if I want to enjoy a movie. It’s not racism, it’s just being smart.
POSTED APRIL 29, 1998
Jas, black, 42 <themoas@aol.com>
Pensacola, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I think this is more about maturity, intelligence and respect for the people around you than it is about race. The individuals who hoot and holler in a theater during the movie come in a variety of colors.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Carly <nova00007@aol.com>
Southfield, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I agree with the sentiments expressed by Truthseeker in reponse to (I admit) my tongue-in-cheek, inflammatory and frivolous comments made in Answer 1. I am somewhat saddened and perturbed that people get annoyed and personally insulted by sweeping generalizations. While many people fit generalizations made for the purpose of argument, many do not. As an Englishman of West Indian descent, born, raised and educated in England, I certainly do not fit the stereotype of “hooting and hollering at the movies”… or in church for that matter! Nevertheless, I have heard African Americans rationalize their choice of church or behavior at concerts, movies, etc., based on ethnic criteria. Nonsensical? Perhaps. But, human behavior is of necessity complex and influenced by a plethora of environmental, cultural and other nuances and cues. A more appropriate answer to my first answer should have been a resounding “Rubbish!” … although I certainly appreciate the kind and more reasoned approach taken by “Truthseeker.”
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
M.P., Ann Arbor, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
To Truthseeker. I am among the lower class of black people, working class to be exact, and I don’t hoot and holler at the movie screen. In fact, no one I know does that. When I go to the movies in my poor, lower-class neighborhood, a lot of people become emotionally involved and sometimes respond aloud to the dialogue on the screen, but I sure don’t hear any hooting, hollering or radio playing. I will relay to you one moviegoing experience I had a couple of years ago. My friend, who is also black, and I went to Manhattan to see “Dead Man Walking.” Manhattan was the only borough in which it was playing at the time. Throughout the movie, the group behind was talking loudly and making silly comments like “Look at his hair, it looks stupid.” Guess what? All four were white.
POSTED MAY 3, 1998
Denise, 26, black, Bronx, NY
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R187: How do minority people feel when a predominantly white TV show or movie has one character of their race? Do you feel they’re a “token” added hypocritically, or are you glad to see your people represented?
POSTED APRIL 15, 1998
Colette, white <inkwolf@earthlink.net>
Seymour, WI

ANSWER 1:
How I would view the use of a lone minority cast in an otherwise white cast would depend on how their character was used – if the character were portrayed as stereotypical, for instance, or if the only time the character ever appeared was when the issue of race was central to the plot. For example, a few years ago there was an NBC retrospective paying tribute to “Bonanza” in which they proudly pointed out they spoke out against prejudice and bigotry. What struck me was that except when they were delivering sermons against prejudice, non-whites, with the exception of Hopsing, were non-existent. And Indians and Asian female roles were usually filled by whites. Speaking as a minority who dabbled in acting while attending a predominantly white university, I think it’s about time minority actors no longer are limited to roles that are race-specific.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Jay B., black male <jayboyd@ameritech.net>
Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
I can speak for myself: It depends on what that person is doing on the show. I do not like or appreciate when a black person plays a demeaning role on an all-white cast. I think it is very important how they are portrayed, especially if it is supposed to be a family show and young children are watching, because these children are very impressionable and can be easily influenced by what they see.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Sarah <srrwml@rit.edu>
Rochester. N.Y.

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
It really depends on the character. I have to say that yes, as an Asian American, I am generally excited to see anyAsians on TV (even in commercials), since there are so few representations in the media. However, a stereotyped Asian-American character (i.e. a kung-fu expert, someone with a bad accent, etc.) is almost worse than none at all. For example, Ming Na Wen’s character on The Single Guy was great because she didn’t have to be Asian and she wasn’t stereotyped, but it was addressed when appropriate.
POSTED AUG. 18, 1998
Corinne, 29, Japanese American <cmkodama@wam.umd.edu>, College Park, MD
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R186: For non-white people who have had bad experiences with whites: To what degree do you assume the experience was motivated by racism rather than other factors? (i.e. rudeness, someone in a bad mood, somebody who is just a jerk in general, etc.)
POSTED APRIL 15, 1998
Colette white <inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

ANSWER 1:
It depends on what happened. On one occasion I was fired from a job for being rude to a client. I tried very hard to remember what I could have done that was offensive. I came up blank. It came out later from a white supervisor at that job that the manager didn’t want any blacks working in my position. So I was fired for being black. I think some things can easily be seen as racial, and we as a people are sensitive to race issues because so often it really is race, no matter what a person may say it is. They may be in a bad mood and slip up and say something racist by accident, but the idea was there all along or it wouldn’t have come out. Most negative experiences with whites that are racial are obviously racial to a non-white person. Some are so obvious it would be obvious to a white person. Racially motivated incidents have a different feeling, and often the intent to offend based on race is painfully obvious.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1998
Carmela, 29, black <pecola@hotmail.com>
Atlanta, Ga

FURTHER NOTICE:
I have been called the n-word by some coward riding by on a bike and shot at with a B.B. gun in a park when I was about seven. Once, someone tried to spit on me. It was racism. I might also add that being racist is indicative of someone who is rude, arrogant and yes, of a foul mood.
POSTED JUNE 17, 1998
Erica, 26, black <morgera@sprintmail.com>, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I feel your question is relevant to one of the most stressful aspects of being a minority in America. Unless the insult is blatantly racist, you never really know for sure. The result is a state of constant paranoia. Did the salesman snub me because I’m black? Did I lose the promotion because I’m the wrong color? Etc. Consequently, we blacks live in a continual state of paranoid stress when dealing with the majority population. I know some whites are just jerks (like some blacks), but how do I tell? Believing racism no longer exists could get me hurt or even killed. It’s a real dilemma …or perhaps I’m just being paranoid.
POSTED AUG. 13, 1998
Sanford F., 51, black, <sfinley@earthlink.net>, Naperville, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
In my experience, kids of lower-class families were the most likely to call me a “chink.” Maybe it does depend on the mood or just plain ignorance. I don’t really know. But all in all, most of the people I have encountered who are white are very nice and polite.
POSTED MARCH 19, 1999
S.E., 15, Asian, Ontario, Canada
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R185: Why do people of Indian (i.e. from the Middle East) background have a distinct scent? Is it the food they eat, or a particular soap?
POSTED APRIL 14, 1998
Drew, Warren, MI
(Director’s Note: See R49 for related question.)
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R184: What do people think about the heavy use of the “n-word” in Quentin Tarantino’s movies? I read that he said that when a word gets so powerful, we should “shout it from the rooftops” to take away its power.
POSTED APRIL 14, 1998
Ed J., <egj@leland.stanford.edu>
Palo Alto, CA
(Director’s Note: For an interesting discussion on general use of the “n-word,” see also Question R111.)

ANSWER 1:
Regarding the proscribed nature of the “n” word – while I’m white, as a gay man, I think I have some inkling of how powerful and ugly epithets designed just to hurt can be. But I wonder whether outlawing these terms is the best answer. A few years ago, a straight colleague asked why lesbian and gay folk were starting to use “queer” openly. And I argued it was because to not use it vests the insult with more power, and that, after all, “queer” means nothing more than homosexual – and, to quote Seinfeld, there’s nothing wrong with that. Using the word, I suspect, sanitizes it – rendering it blander and less insulting. The same argument, I suspect, could be made with that “other” word – though I certainly sympathize with the desire to protect children, especially, from its destructive power. But I’m inclined to say banning it vests it with even more.
POSTED APRIL 16, 1998
Michael H., 43, white <hodgesmh@aol.com>
Ann Arbor, MI
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R183: I spend a lot of time in Detroit and have noticed that some African Americans pronounce the “th” sound “f”. I did not start noticing it until recently, within the last year, but it seems to be cathing on. For example, rapper Will Smith pronounces his name “Will Smif” in his new song. Does this have to do with the attention that Ebonics has been getting in the news?
POSTED APRIL 14, 1998
Bob G., 23, white <Sidemount@aol.com>
Brighton, MI

ANSWER 1:
It doesn’t have anything to do with Ebonics in the news. Black people have a different rhythm in their speech patterns. We often pronounce words differently than whites. It may be a regional, black dialect. And Will Smith no doubt is making a connection to black language as a black person. Nothing is wrong with that; it is just different. It doesn’t hold some hidden meaning.
POSTED APRIL 24, 1998
Carmela, 29, black <pecola@hotmail.com>
Atlanta, Ga.
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R182: My seven-year-old came to me during Black History Month and stated she had a “black friend” and that I should have told her she was different. I asked where she got that information, and she said she learned it in school. Now, when my daughter walks down a street and sees a black woman, man or child, she makes a point of showing me they’re colored and she is not. I feel she should understand that color does not mean anything, and that everyone is equal and that it should not be an issue. Are we pointing out the difference in color among ourselves, and does color always have to be an issue? Why are educators insistent on separating the groups of people?
POSTED APRIL 14, 1998
Lee, 39, white female, New Baltimore, MI

ANSWER 1:
I agree color should not be the only difference pointed out in people. But color is an important part of the black race. Our difference is very obvious simply by our skin color. I think explaining to your daughter that every person should be judged by their individual character and not their color is a good way to explain the situation to her. She should also be told why there is a Black History Month, and she should understand blacks have not and still are not treated equally in American society, and that more parents need to take the stand you have so that this injustice can be corrected. I think it is fair to say most black folk are proud of their color, but don’t judge us because of our color.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
Sarah <srrwml@rit.edu>, Rochester, N.Y.

FURTHER NOTICE:
I disagree with the first response because it seems like you want to have your cake and eat it as well. If you are proud of your race and want others to respect your race, then there is some inherent judgment there; respectable vs. non-respectable. For instance, the entire setting of this situation is that whites (as a very generalized group) have held down blacks (again, a very generalized group). We as whites are being judged for this. If it were not judged that whites are treating blacks unfairly, then we would not have a Black History Month. Racial recognition necessitates distinction, which breeds conflict. This is no different than when little kids are teamed Blue and Green in summer camp. They pick sides and compete to the death. If we are going to identify ourselves as black and white, then competition and problems are going to follow. That’s just human nature, and has been for millions of years.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
B., 22, white male, Kokomo, IN
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R181: Why is it that if a white man sticks up for his race and wants to better himself, it is looked upon that he is a racist or bigot, but if a black man does the same thing, he is looked upon as a leader and is respected to some extent?
POSTED APRIL 14, 1998
Joe, Dearborn, MI

ANSWER 1:
In this country, being black is to belong to a cultural group, whereas being white is only a skin tone. There is a distinct African-American culture with a common history and the existence of African-American food, music, poetry, etc. Many white people in this country express pride in being Irish-American, Polish-American, Greek-American, etc. These are also distinct cultural groups, and expressions of pride are positive statements and should not be offensive to blacks or whites from other ethnic groiups.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1998
Marie W., white, German-Russian-American <JMWeigold@aol.com>
Farmington Hills, MI
To respond
BACK TO TOP

Check Also

Sexual Orientation Questions 31-40

THE QUESTION: SO40: Are there any specific reasons for the lisp many gay men have ...

Leave a Reply