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Unformatted text preview: Cultural Etiquette: A Guide for the Well-Intentioned by Amoja Three Rivers RACISM AND THE RACIAL STEREOTYPES it spawns are so subtly interwoven into the fabric of Western society that very often, even those with the best of intentions will display bad cultural manners. This does not necessarily mean one is a bad person. Sometimes people just don't know any better. This guide is to help people avoid some of the obvious as well as not so obvious pitfalls of unwitting racism and anti-Semitism. This does not try to talk anyone out of being racist or anti- Semitic. Rather it seeks to help those with good and righteous intentions to refine behavior and attitudes bred in cultural ignorance. Ethnocentrism, according to the Random House Dictionary of the English language, means "a tendency to view alien groups or cultures in terms of one's own" and "the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own group and culture, accompanied by a feeling of contempt for other groups and cultures." The term "exotic," when applied to human beings, is ethnocentric and racist. It defines people of color only as we relate to white people. It implies a state of other-ness, or foreign origin, apart from the norm. It is not a compliment. "Ethnic" refers to nationality or race. Everyone has nationality or race. Margaret Thatcher, Susan B. Anthony, and Bach are just as "ethnic" as Miriam Makeba, Indira Gandhi, and Johnny Colon. While it is true that most citizens of the United States are white, at least four-fifths of the world's population consists of people of color. Therefore, it is statistically incorrect as well as ethnocentrist to refer to us as minorities. The term "minority" is used to reinforce the idea of people of color as "other." Within the cultures of many people, more value is placed on relationships, and on the maintenance of tradition and spirituality than on the development and acquisition of machinery. It is ethnocentric and racist to apply words like backward, primitive, uncivilized, savage, barbaric, or undeveloped to people whose technology does not include plumbing, microwaves, and micro- chips. Are people somehow more human or more humane if they have more technological toys? Monotheism is not more "advanced" than polytheism. It is simply another kind of spirituality, and both have equal validity. The notion of "one true god, one true faith" is often used to invalidate the ancient and complex religious traditions of millions of people. "Fetish" is a term that means object of spiritual veneration, but in Western society, it is mainly applied to religious items of people of color in an effort to diminish their depth and importance. One never hears a crucifix referred to as a fetish, even though it basically serves the same purpose as an Acuaba or even the ancient Asherah....
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This note was uploaded on 02/26/2011 for the course BUSINESS Bus087 taught by Professor Hidi during the Spring '11 term at West Valley.
- Spring '11