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Reflection On Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

Reflection On Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

Blacks have faced numerous challenges throughout American history. This repressive framework maintains the depressing condition of affairs for blacks and continues to make life black in America a constant battle. Culture influences settings and surroundings to persuade individuals, which can be beneficial or detrimental. A person defeating their situation will direct them to be known as a defeater. This can be harmful since it provides a misleading sense of a person’s true self. Blacks were abducted from their original land of Africa and brought to America 400 years ago. African people have been through hell and back in this so-called United States of America. They have been subjected to slavery and oppression for 400 years. Negroes have been sold and bought, flogged and lashed, and torn from their families. White enslavers have raped and impregnated black women. From that day on, blacks were deprived of their native identities, like as names, religion, and culture.

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What exactly do I mean by culture?

What I mean by culture is the distinctness and information of a specific group of people, encompassing languages, faith, cooking, social customs, art, and music. Kahn A (2015). “Many anthropologists trace the concept of culture back to E. B. Tylor’s definition in Primitive Culture (1871): “Culture, civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

Relativism in Cultural Terms

Cultural relativism is a viewpoint adopted by anthropologists at the turn of the century. Regarding cultural relativism, the codes of thinking, ethics, and traditions of culture begin the perspective of the culture as its whole. “The concept of cultural relativism presented by Boas was in stark contrast to the Universalists, whose studies tried to uncover commonalities throughout cultures,” writes A. Kahn (2015). Cultural relativists argue that knowledge about different cultures is necessarily incomparable because cultures are unique.

Identifying Cultural Groups

African Americans and Black West Indians are the cultural groupings I identify and fit with. Growing up, I enjoyed the best of both worlds on both sides of my family. My mother was born in America; her mother is from New York, and her father is from Aruba. My father was born in the United States, his mother in Charleston, South Carolina, and his father in Costa Rica. Yet, black culture stems from a variety of internal and external imprints on the black community. Living as a black person in the United States entails going through and implementing several cultures. Describing what is authentically black culture is nearly impossible; as a result, there are as many ways to be black as black people. The Caribbean Sea’s conquered islands are a fascinating renovation in cultural and social individuality. Settled by the European dictatorship in the 1500s, the Caribbean islands combine civilizations starting with India, Europe, Africa, and the native inhabitants of the geographical Mass.

Consequently, relating and explaining the Caribbean is a much more complex task than it looks on the exterior. Despite many analogies, the practices and conceptions of traits, as well as previous narratives, exist on one island radically different from those on nearby fellow islands. Thanksgiving and Christmas were always the American cultural norms I observed.

Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is a West Indian festival and tradition in my family. After Mass, my family would prepare both American and Caribbean delicacies such as fry chicken, oxtails, Mac & Cheese, Callao, Black Eyed Peas, Corn Bread, Ackee, and salt fish, to mention a few. Carnival in Aruba is a cultural tradition that I celebrate every year. This festival comes forward from African melody customs through the 17th century. They would have masked dancers, and locals will dress in elaborate costumes swaying to the speed of drumming instruments. With my Caribbean heritage, I listened to Reggae, Calypso, Soca, and Calypso. With my American heritage, I listened to Hip Hop, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, and Jazz.

Views on Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

Ethnocentrism, in my opinion, is the appraisal of other cultures based on assumptions that begin with the values and traditions of one’s culture. Ethnocentrism is the leading cause of separation between blacks of varied ethnicities. Ethnocentrism is the belief in superiority within a specific cultural group, though it can also stem from ethnic or spiritual differences. Regrettably, for decades, there has been a split among black people. Growing up in the black community, I witnessed several instances where blacks were pitted against blacks. The unfortunate reality is that Black Americans believe they are superior to Black Africans, and Black Jamaicans believe they are superior to Black Americans. Ethnocentrism has affected both my marriage and my profession.

My coworker, a Black Haitian woman, told me all Black Americans have young children and poor credit. My hubby is Jamaican, and I am American. I overhear my husband’s relatives talking about how all Black People are lazy and stupid. Then I will defend Black Americans and ask, “how can you say something like that”. His family would then reply family, you’re different from an average American. I’d wonder why I’m so unique. Their reaction would be that you are special because I am of West Indian descent. Yet, I would convey to them such beliefs are dumb and ridiculous. As a result, we are all black people who must band together. I could go on about why black people don’t get along.

Nonetheless, seeing that as a black woman is incredibly encouraging. Every day, you might watch the news and hear about a case of black-on-black crime: Unnever and Co. (2016). “Similar to social disorganization theory, Hawkins et al. contend that institutionalized racism is related to black offending primarily through its impact on the establishment of inner-city ghettos populated primarily by blacks. The writers also emphasize the importance of racialized social control programs in establishing hyper-segregated black neighborhoods. Because of these institutionalized racist behaviors, blacks in urban America have experienced ethnic spatial compression, which determines the social and physical borders of black communities. “Ethnocentrists believe they are superior to others only based on their customs and culture. Without a doubt, this strategy is associated with discrimination and narrow-mindedness. Even though many individuals are aware of the concerns, they may not realize ethnocentrism occurs worldwide and daily on a general and political level.

Cultural relativism asserts that all cultures are the same as every other culture and that all cultures are valid representations of an individual’s character. According to the terms of cultural relativism, residents are expected to endeavor to get an understanding of different cultures by viewing them through their cultural lens. In that light, it forces people to seek to receive the grand perspective of another culture rather than gaining knowledge about the historical background of the civilizations they study. As a result, people are not expected to ethnocentrically instill their unique way of life and beliefs that are the ideals of their enculturation. Yet, it must be understood that cultural relativism is an essential point of view.

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References

Unnever, J. D., Francis T. Cullen, and J.C. Barnes. (2016a). Racial Discrimination and Pathways to Delinquency. Race and Justice, Published online.

Kahn, A. (2015). The ecology of diversity: Examining individuals, societies, and cultures. San Diego, CA. Bridgepoint Education

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Question 


Ethnocentrism leads to prejudice and the belief that one’s race, nation, or culture is superior to all others. In contrast, examine how cultural relativism (judging a culture by the standards of others) can affect society by influencing prejudice and discrimination.

Reflection On Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

Reflection On Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

RESOURCES

Be sure to review the Learning Resources before completing this activity.
Click the weekly resources link to access the resources.

WEEKLY RESOURCES

BY DAY 3

Post 200–250 words providing examples of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism in your immediate environment and your experiences, addressing the following:

  • How does ethnocentrism lead to prejudice and discrimination?
  • Provide an example from your personal life or your observation of the world.
  • Identify the aspects of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism in your model.
  • How can ethnocentrism be avoided to create a culturally sensitive environment?

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