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Kevin Guevara

Peyi Soyinka- Airewele


Global and Comparative Studies
Due: 2/24/14
Challenging Eurocentrism and Structural Legacies
Eurocentrism is the belief that Europeans are the dominant group of people, and they have
created the world that we are currently living in. Eurocentrism is a biased perspective on the
modern world and the history of the world. Eurocentrism practically argues that countries did not
have a History until the Europeans arrived in that country. Eurocentrism is taught in Western
society, and many people believe the myths of Eurocentrism. Many are taught that Europeans
helped civilize the countries that they arrived in. Authors such as Shohat, Stam, Green,
Luehrmann, and Parenti all argue that Eurocentrism is a myth because many of the countries,
including Africa, Asia, and the Americas, were more advanced in certain fields than Europeans
were at the time.
Eurocentrism ignores the contributions that other countries have made in History. The
authors argue that the Europeans stole many ideas and inventions from the so called
uncivilized countries that they were exploiting. This has caused people to believe a false
History in which many important inventions and ideas we still use today was because the
Europeans came up with them. Many people have no idea of the negative effects of Eurocentrism
because Eurocentrism has become so well hidden and embedded in modern society. This is
because people are taught with a biased White perspective about other countries. No one seems
to care that minorities and other countries are portrayed in a negative way in the media. They are
taught to believe that White people are superior and that the people in third world countries
should remain uncivilized. Im affected by Eurocentrism because Im Latino. People in this
country have been taught to believe that Latinos are poor and inferior to white people. Many
believe that the Europeans gave Latin America everything that it has today. I know this is false,
and I want more people to know the truth about the History of my country and my people. I have
experienced racism because people have a Eurocentric view of Latin America and Latinos
.
Eurocentrism is one of the causes of racism in this world. Racism is a complex concept,
and there are many forms of it. Shohat and Stam point out Albert Memmis definition of racism
as the generalized and final assigning of values to real or imaginary differences, to the accusers
benefit and at his victims expense, in order to justify the formers own privilege or aggression.
(19 Shohat and Stam) This basically means that racism is the belief that one race of people are
dominant than other races of people simply because there exists differences between them. This
is what happened when Columbus reached the Americas in 1492. He noticed that the Native
Americans looked different than he did, and they had different beliefs and customs than he did.
So he decided to label them as uneducated savages. This is the problem with Eurocentrism and
its influence on racism. Eurocentrism teaches people to believe that White Europeans are the
dominant group of people in this world. Eurocentrism makes other races and groups of people
appear inferior in comparison to Europeans.
These racist beliefs still persist to this day. There exists people who believe Black people
and Latinos are nothing but uneducated criminals. That is only a small percentage of the Black
and Latino people; most Black people and Latinos are not criminals. These authors are trying to
make people aware of the negative effects that Eurocentrism and racism has caused. Ive been a
victim of racism too many times in my life. I remember when I was in elementary school I could
not speak English, so an Italian kid told me either learn English or get out of my country. I
didnt understand, not because I couldnt speak English, but because I was born in the United
States. Where was I supposed to go? He believed that because I spoke a different language then
I must be inferior to him. I was forced to learn English in order avoid discrimination. I felt like I
was being colonized, and this gave me a perspective on what the Europeans did to the indigenous
people of the countries they were colonizing,
Racism and colonialism also created stereotypes. Parenti defines colonialism as the most
powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents
while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. He is explaining that
European colonialism has influenced and shaped the world in both negative and positive ways.
He argues that Eurocentrism has shaped our modern world, but it did it by destroying
civilizations and changing the cultures of indigenous people. Patreni implies that colonialism
was the start of stereotypes, and it is easy to see why.
Stereotypes started when Europeans started colonizing third world countries, and gave
the indigenous people negative labels that still persist to this day. Shohat and Stam explain that
colonialism exalted European culture and defamed indigenous culture (17 Shohat and Stam).
This means that the Europeans basically reshaped countries cultures to match their own culture.
As a result, history was rewritten to make it seem like Europeans were helping other countries
around the world. In reality, they were killing off people and forcing indigenous people to lose
their culture.These negative stereotypes still persist to this day. There exists people who actually
still believe people from countries in Africa and Latin America are savages. They believe that
there are not any rich or important people living in these countries. It is true that there is a lot of
severe poverty, corruption, and violence happening in Africa and Latin America. However, this
does not apply to everyone living in Africa and Latin America. Some people would be shocked
to learn that there exists mansions in Africa, and some of the wealthiest people in the world live
in Africa
This ignorance has always existed even when the Europeans knew nothing about other
countries. Green and Luehrmann point out that during the European colonization period
Europeans were often surprised at how much the empires they encountered were like the ones at
home. (56 Green and Luehrmann ) Yet the Europeans still labeled the people of these empires as
inferior to them. I know that the people of Latin Americas were not uneducated savages, but
unfortunately most people believe that they were a group of violent people who were saved by
the Europeans. Today people have this belief that Latinos and Latin American have always been
poor, but that has only been the last five hundred years of our existence. If people learned the
true history of pre- colonial Latin American, then they would see the incredible contributions
they made in Mathematics, Science, and even forms of Government. The idea of impeaching a
ruler comes from an old Aztec tradition, but the Europeans stole that idea from them. There are
many people who are not aware of this, some people even think impeachment is an American
invention.
Eurocentrism so embedded in Western society that most people are unaware of its
existance. It teaches people to believe in negative stereotypes and not question them. Recently
there was a commercial a for Cheerios Cereal that featured a multi-raced family. People went
crazy simply because the commercial portrayed a Black man married to a White woman. I read
somewhere that someone commented on the commercial by saying this commercial is fake
because Black people do not take care for their kids. This is the twenty- first century, and
people still have these shocking 5racist beliefs that Eurocentrism has caused. I didnt see
anything wrong with the commercial, but apparently there are White people in this world that
believe some races are still inferior to them. When Obama was running for president back in
2008, people were calling him a Muslim terrorist; despite the fact that he is not Muslim. People
were afraid of a Muslim being President because most American know nothing about Muslim
culture. This proves the fear of the unknown that Shohat and Stam explained in their book.
Eurocentrism caused this fear, but this fear can be destroyed if people were to educate
themselves about the unknown
There have been attempts to debunk the myth of Eurocentrism through polycentric radical
multiculturalism (PMC). Shohat and Stam define PMC as seeing world history and
contemporary social life from the perspective of the radical equality of peoples in status,
potential, and rights. (5 Shohat and Stam) PMC seeks to include the pluralistic realities of
World History, change, and development. This is how people should learn about History; they
should learn the whole truth, and not the one sided story of Europe. This is different from the
beliefs of liberal multiculturalism in which people chose to believe that
Eurocentrism/colonialism has caused America to become the melting pot it is today. The problem
with this belief is that it ignores the damage that the Europeans caused the people. This belief
causes people to think that people came to the U.S. by choice, and that the U.S. welcomed these
people with open arms. This is not true. Most people were forced out of their countries, and they
were treated with no respect when they arrived in the U.S.
Eurocentrism is a myth that has caused too much damage to people of non- European
descent. This ignorance has existed for too long, and there needs to be change in the way people
learn about History. If there is nothing done about this, then racism will continue to exist.
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