Here is the fun part about growing up in a melting pot where your neighbor is English and your best-friend is Canadian. You quickly develop a wider view of the world around you. But here is the other thing. No matter how ‘worldly’ you consider yourself to be. We as humans have some inevitable bias towards each other wether we know it or not and wether we accept it or not.
Ethnocentrism is defined as “the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture” (Dictionary.com, n.d.). It is understood that people who generally adopt this belief/view have very little first-hand experience with other cultures and the only experience they do have with other cultures is through long-perpetuated stereotypes. Making their views outdated and narrow.
At a time and age where the term ‘white-supremacy’ has made more headlines than ever. There has never been a more crucial time than right now to unlearn Ethnocentrism or at least educate yourself around this kind of bias so you are more aware of those around you. It is perfectly natural to fallback on your roots and ingrained traditions when faced with difficult or ‘out of the box’ situations. It is natural to assume that your tribe has the vibe that is simply ‘better’ or ‘above’ others.
However the truth is that no particular culture is above another. They are all unique and powerful in their own way because they have ancient stories and traditions ingrained within them, with ancestral stories to back-up their philosophies and beliefs. Truth is as much as I like to consider myself woke-ish there have been times where I’ve had to call myself out of my own bullshit. For example, the other day I was doing my standard coffee run at my local coffee shop when I overheard the lady in front of me say two of the words that I dread the most. She walked up to the counter and whipped out her Amex before ordering a ‘Chai Tea’ with a turmeric and ginger shot on the side.
Perfectly normal order for a Sunday morning.
My immediate thoughts to that order was. Oh great, just another yoga retreat seeking, Everest climbing, bindi wearing (but only at music festivals) individual in Lulu Lemons ordering $7 Indian spice shots in an attempt to cleanse their body after they’ve inhaled half a bottle of tequila on a Saturday night night.
That long-winded thought is exactly what unintentional Ethnocentrism looks like. Even though I would never intentionally place anyone into a particular box. I realized I had subconscious elements of Ethnocentrism in me and had to actively call myself out on it, because the truth is all cultures have something to offer. All cultures have the potential to teach us something about ourselves and if we manage to take the time to actively unlearn Ethnocentrism. We’ll be one-step closer to being able to make bizarre yet understandable coffee orders without any judgement from the person behind us.