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1 - 19 of 19 Comments Last updated Feb 23, 2013
dahgts

Chicago, IL

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#1
Feb 23, 2013
 
DEAR AMY: Iím a 27-year-old black woman in graduate school. I have never been in any serious relationship, and am wondering if you have any advice on how to change this.

Iím attracted to men of different races, but find it difficult to make connections to many black men. My family is from Africa, and I was raised in the suburbs (read: surrounded by white people).

Black men sometimes donít think Iím ďblack enough,Ē since I didnít grow up in a black community and have different experiences being first-generation American. Men from other races donít seem particularly drawn to me, and at this point Iím not really sure what to do.

Iím introverted and donít open up very easily, although Iíve been actively trying to change this. Iíve also tried online dating on two very reputable dating Web sites, with no dates resulting from either.

I like myself and am trying to be my most authentic self, but am frustrated that no one special has ever come into my life. If you have any tips on how to change this, I would be very grateful.-- Chronically Single

DEAR SINGLE: You are thoughtfully analyzing this issue, which is a great start. And at the risk of oversimplifying, I think you could start by confiding in a good female friend, who might be able to give you some pointers that emphasize your best traits.

Maybe you should try a shorter (or longer or funnier or quirkier)ďme statement.Ē But before you go full on into online dating, I would suggest taking advantage of the resources at the college, which you say has a diverse student population. Certainly you should embrace your background as a first-generation American as an asset that gives you interesting perspectives and intriguing narratives to use in conversation. Have you considered seeking out a social organization for fellow Africans, or other social organizations?

Join organizations that will take you outside your comfort zone. Use social settings to practice proactive flirting, interacting and being open to people from all sorts of backgrounds.

DEAR AMY: I have always valued family. My son married a young lady who treats us with very little respect. She has never cooked us a meal or purchased a gift for us. We try to see our grandchildren once a week. We travel an hour each way to stay for an hour or so.

They usually tell us to come over at 4 p.m. on Sunday and never invite us for dinner. Our son has made us dinner on the occasions she is gone.

I have also been told not to call or text her. She is a stay-at-home mom but all communication goes through my son. My son is a wonderful husband and father. He told me that he walks on eggshells. I know if I say anything she could restrict us further. Any advice?-- Grieving MIL

DEAR GRIEVING: If your son says he feels he is ďwalking on eggshells,Ē this is a sign that he might be in an abusive marriage. Abusers isolate their partners and restrict access to them. Abusers keep everyone (including children and their grandparents) off-kilter.

At this point, you and your husband should do everything you can to keep the door open. Keep going to the house and maintain contact with your son and the children as often as you can. Continue to emotionally support your son, and if you feel he is frightened (or if the situation seems to be deteriorating), you should urge him to see a lawyer.

DEAR AMY: I loved the letter from ďJoan.Ē She wanted to take some money she was being given for her 50th birthday and spend it traveling to India.

I was a tour manager for over a decade, taking older people on trips all over the world. I cannot tell you how often I had people tell me they had saved their entire lives to travel, and then one of the spouses had passed away or was unable to physically make the trip to see and do all the things that had been dreamed about.

I took that vicarious lesson to heart.-- Tour Guide

DEAR GUIDE: The only readers advising against this trip were people who had never traveled. Thank you.

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

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#2
Feb 23, 2013
 
1, I have nothing
2. Maybe she can't cook and you are overbearing
3.I have nothing. See the movie Up
Kuuipo

Salinas, CA

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#3
Feb 23, 2013
 

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LW1: You need to meet my friend Chris; he is a gorgeous Latino who *loves* black women. Seriously, take up salsa dancing. You will meet a lot of men and become more social.

LW2: DIL sounds like a nutcase but you can't change other people. You know what you have to do. You have to grit your teeth and be as pleasant as possible so that you can have a relationship with your grandchildren.

Since: Jan 10

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#4
Feb 23, 2013
 

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L1: You're black, and you're the descendent of recent immigrants from Africa. Your American experience is so different from that of black Americans who have been here for generations. Sadly, you live in a country where people see race first, almost always.

I don't think Amy's advice was too bad. I look forward to reading the comments.

And LW's parents get to use the phrase "African American" to describe themselves --(1) where they come from and (2) where they are now. All the other black americans who've been here for generations (likely longer than most white Americans)-- please drop this "African American" label. I refuse to use it. Ever.

L2: You sound ridiculous and sexist. Son walks on eggshells because of his parents, not his wife.

L3: I liked Amy's answer.

Toj

“Equality”

Since: Jul 12

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#5
Feb 23, 2013
 

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L1: At 27, I don't know how much help school will be. Find your interests, work at them either volunteer or otherwise and keep your eyes open. Having something in common is the greatest way to meet people. If there's an activity you like, join a club. That new friend you might meet just might have a guy that would be perfect for you. It's a win-win. Even if you don't meet the man of your dreams you will enrich your life.

L2: Never cooked you a meal or bought you something? You're way out of line. If that's how you value people no wonder you don't think much of your DIL. You don't say if YOU ever invited them over. I smell something funny here. Is your son walking on egg shells b/c of his wife or b/c of his parents?

L3: I've encouraged a young (mid-20s) woman in my office to travel and see things. She thought maybe she shouldn't spend the money. She makes plenty. Told her go now b/c once she has kids (she wants them) it'll be more difficult. She has since travelled locally and internationally and hasn't regretted it.

“What's it to ya?”

Since: Mar 09

Tacoma, WA

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#6
Feb 23, 2013
 
RedheadwGlasses wrote:
And LW's parents get to use the phrase "African American" to describe themselves --(1) where they come from and (2) where they are now. All the other black americans who've been here for generations (likely longer than most white Americans)-- please drop this "African American" label. I refuse to use it. Ever.
Me too. Americans who have been here for generations are simply Americans, not (whatever)-Americans because they have no connection to that culture IMO. Besides the (whatever) part describes your area of origin, as in where you originally came from, not where your however long ago ancestors came from. I don't describe myself as German or European or Polish or Mongolian (or about 700 other places)-American. I am American and I am a Californian torn from my place of origin and living in the rainy rainy place, period.

The husband, when asked "what" he is (read: not "where are you from?") he says "African-American." He's not black, he's ethnically Arab and Berber (and Italian but that's another story) but as Morocco is in Africa, he gets to say it I suppose. He does it to annoy people who are clueless enough to say "what are you?" What? Human? Seriously? If they ask where he's from he says "Morocco." <shrug>

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Braidwood, IL

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#7
Feb 23, 2013
 
RedheadwGlasses wrote:
Sadly, you live in a country where people see race first, almost always.
Goddam America. But unless everyone wears a burka and sunglasses, I don't see how that's avoidable. But sometimes people notice gender first. Or age. Or that silly hat they're wearing...

Black was supposed to be less offensive than knee-grow, African American was supposed to be less offensive than black, but African American doesn't seem to make any sense, so we've gone back to black until we think of something better. As the world turns, I guess...

Since: Jan 10

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#8
Feb 23, 2013
 
Well, a black american could have his/her "black" roots from the Caribbean or Brazil. Assuming that all black americans are from Africa is silly and wrong.

Since: Jan 10

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#9
Feb 23, 2013
 
Also, I think "African American" was a way for black americans to reclaim part of their identity. I can trace my roots back to Ireland, circa 1820, and we can trace them in Ireland even further. For most black Americans, they can't trace back any farther than whenever their ancestors first became freed Americans. There's no written history for them to take it back farther --they don't know which part of Africa they come from unless they do DNA testing. And oral history is not much better for black americans -- rising out of slavery meant not talking about the past, and instead focusing on the future.

“What's it to ya?”

Since: Mar 09

Tacoma, WA

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#10
Feb 23, 2013
 
RedheadwGlasses wrote:
Also, I think "African American" was a way for black americans to reclaim part of their identity. I can trace my roots back to Ireland, circa 1820, and we can trace them in Ireland even further. For most black Americans, they can't trace back any farther than whenever their ancestors first became freed Americans. There's no written history for them to take it back farther --they don't know which part of Africa they come from unless they do DNA testing. And oral history is not much better for black americans -- rising out of slavery meant not talking about the past, and instead focusing on the future.
And technically, we can ALL trace our ancestry to Africa. So there's that...

Mimi, your friendly neighborhood anthropologist.

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#11
Feb 23, 2013
 
Mimi Seattle wrote:
<quoted text>
And technically, we can ALL trace our ancestry to Africa. So there's that...
Mimi, your friendly neighborhood anthropologist.
Right! There is only one race: The human race.

“What's it to ya?”

Since: Mar 09

Tacoma, WA

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#12
Feb 23, 2013
 
RedheadwGlasses wrote:
<quoted text>
Right! There is only one race: The human race.
Exactly. Biologically speaking we are all H.sapiens and there is more diversity within a given "race" than there is between "races."

Disclaimer: Keeping in mind that "race" is an arbitrary social construction and I use it only as a means of being clear in my statement not as an endorsement in the incorrect notion of there being biologically distinct races.

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

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#13
Feb 23, 2013
 
Mimi Seattle wrote:
<quoted text>
And technically, we can ALL trace our ancestry to Africa. So there's that...
Mimi, your friendly neighborhood anthropologist.
I probably asked this before, but what's your take on the mitochondrial DNA theory and the book Seven Daughters of Eve?

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

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#14
Feb 23, 2013
 
RedheadwGlasses wrote:
Also, I think "African American" was a way for black americans to reclaim part of their identity. I can trace my roots back to Ireland, circa 1820, and we can trace them in Ireland even further. For most black Americans, they can't trace back any farther than whenever their ancestors first became freed Americans. There's no written history for them to take it back farther --they don't know which part of Africa they come from unless they do DNA testing. And oral history is not much better for black americans -- rising out of slavery meant not talking about the past, and instead focusing on the future.
The shift (in polite language) went from Negro to Black to African American. I don't recall it being an effort to reclaim their African identity so much as an affirmation that they were Americans, hyphenated Americans, like Irish, Italian, Japanese, etc.

To my recollection, the use of AA as a preferred self designation came about in the mid 1980's.

The effort to reclaim African identity occurred earlier, in the mid-late 60's when people like Malcolm X were dropping their surnames on the theory that they had originated from a slave owner, and that it was not possible to determine a surname or equivalent because of a lack of written records of the slave traders and because the original African societies from which the slaves were captured were pre-literate. That was also when dashikis and the use of kente cloth became fashionable.

However, I am a white chick and I will defer to anyone who is black who is in their 60's or older who would remember.

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

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#15
Feb 23, 2013
 
Mimi Seattle wrote:
<quoted text>
Exactly. Biologically speaking we are all H.sapiens and there is more diversity within a given "race" than there is between "races."
Disclaimer: Keeping in mind that "race" is an arbitrary social construction and I use it only as a means of being clear in my statement not as an endorsement in the incorrect notion of there being biologically distinct races.
With no disrespect, Pfhooey. Biology aside, then term "race" is used to designate people who look a particular way. It is not a social construction; it is a visual descriptor. I admit all the rest of what you said, though.

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#16
Feb 23, 2013
 
*some* blacks prefer the AA term. Some do not. I'm not going to bounce back and forth between the two. One black person doesn't get to dictate what others are called.

And really, it comes down to two things:

(1) Black isn't offensive.
(2) I'm saying one syllable instead of six.

Since: Jan 10

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#17
Feb 23, 2013
 
Oops. seven. Yeah, it's not even close. The one syllable word works.

“What's it to ya?”

Since: Mar 09

Tacoma, WA

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#18
Feb 23, 2013
 
PEllen wrote:
<quoted text>I probably asked this before, but what's your take on the mitochondrial DNA theory and the book Seven Daughters of Eve?
I haven't actually read the book, but from what I know about it, he's done some research into the inheritance of mDNA and separating us into different halogroups. That part in and of itself is pretty "standard" as far as mDNA or y-DNA.

I think the biggest issues with tracing DNA (of any kind) is that for the most part it has a limited viable amount of time to be able to be extracted from fossils and still be useable.

However, we (they, I am not a geneticist, I just play one on TV) can take modern DNA and be able to tell how old it is. For example *my* DNA is about 50 years old, but the DNA I inherited is much older and that age (it's actual inheritance age) can be ascertained by looking at specific genetic markers and when they showed up in the human population.

That said, as I havent actually read it, I can't say if it's good, bad, or whatever.

“What's it to ya?”

Since: Mar 09

Tacoma, WA

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#19
Feb 23, 2013
 
PEllen wrote:
<quoted text>
With no disrespect, Pfhooey. Biology aside, then term "race" is used to designate people who look a particular way. It is not a social construction; it is a visual descriptor. I admit all the rest of what you said, though.
Yes and no.

I get what you're saying, but more often than not there is an idea of what someone is like when we see what they look like. Not necessarily you or me, or any given person, just the larger society as a whole. Like it or not, we have been enculturated into believing stereotypes (if only subconsciously) about certain groups (races if you prefer) which would be a social construct by definition.

Historically the concept of race is less than 200 years old, and is tied to the Victorian obsession with classifying everything into neat little boxes.

Franz Boas showed that there is nothing biologically real about race. There is nothing that we have identified as race that exists apart from our collective agreement, acceptance, and imposition of its existence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Boas

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