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Ethnocentrism

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  • April 2005
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Webster's dictionary defines ethnocentrism as "The tendency to evaluate other groups according to the values and standards of one's own ethnic group, especially with the conviction that one's own ethnic group is superior to the other groups." When first reading this definition, one would naturally agree that ethnocentrism does exist in our world and society, often confusing it with patriotism. However, many do not realize that ethnocentrism is, has been, and continues to be a leading cause for violence in America. Different ethnic groups such as African Americans and Native Americans have suffered through years of violent crimes against them because of the white man's ethnocentric views of themselves when compared with other races and cultures.

Ethnocentrism began to develop in America long before we were officially a nation. When Europeans first came to America and had their initial encounters with the Native Americans, the Europeans were so surprised about how different the Natives were. Their differences in language, dress, and skin color made them doubt that the Native Americans were even human. Stemming from this notion, the Europeans eventually began to consider the Natives as the "other" and felt that they were more civilized than the "others." Amerigo Vespucci wrote that the Native Americans were "worse than heathen; because we did not see that they offered any sacrifice, nor did they have a house of prayer." Consequently, these feelings of the Native Americans being regarded as "heathens" led to the first ethnocentrism in America, that of the superiority and glorification of the white race and culture. Throughout the history of our great nation, over and over again, the white man has bullied the Native Americans. They have ultimately been pushed off land that originally belonged to them and been allotted meager portions of land to live on which the government (run by the white man) has felt that they have little use for (reservations). Looking passed...