Julian Abagond: style guide – Eurocentric words

by , under Julian Abagond

By Julian Abagond

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Eurocentricisms are words that centre Western experience, that make white people seem “normal” and everyone else strange, exotic or screwed up. Such words get in the way of clear thinking.

In general, avoid:

  1. Dichotomous thinking: words that split the world in two, especially into a good half and a bad half. The world is a coat of many colours with no centre, no Chosen People.
  2. Prejudiced thinking: words that see people of an out-group as all the same or screwed up.
  3. Exoticization: words that would not be applied to white people under the same circumstances.
  4. Loaded words: words that assume the West is best.
  5. The centre with no name: use ”Western”, “white”, “Christian”, “European”, “American”, etc, instead of assuming them.

Some examples:

backward – a loaded word that makes the West the measure of all.

canoe – use “boat” unless you are talking about particular kinds of boats.

chief – use “king”, “ruler”, “leader” or the person’s title. Avoid “chief” since it is rarely applied to whites. Even Vikings did not have “chiefs”.

contribution – use “invention”, “advance”, etc. Western inventions are just inventions, never “contributions” to China or elsewhere.

developed – puts Western industrialized society at the top of human development. Say “Westernized” or “industrialized” or at least “rich”.

elders – use their title. No one calls American senators “elders”.

everyone – use “white people”, “Americans”, etc.

exotic –  Everyone is exotic and no one is exotic.

ghetto – applied to parts of Black American culture not yet accepted by whites.

hut – use “house” unless you are talking about styles of housing.

Indian – sees the thousands of native cultures of the Americas as being pretty much the same. Say what you mean: “Navajo”, “Iroquois”, etc.

medicine man – use “doctor” where possible. The trouble is that “doctor” has been Eurocentricized to mean someone with a degree in Western medicine.

Middle East – use “Muslim world” or “Arab world” instead, depending what you mean. “Middle East” is a Eurocentric term (East of where? In the Middle of what?) from American and British foreign policy. It is not a cultural region.

minority – on a world scale everyone is a minority. Even in America, whites are already a minority in places like California and metropolitan New York.

moccasin – use “shoe” unless you are talking about particular styles of shoes.

no accent – everyone speaks with an accent.

slurs – avoid unless your aim is to be a racist jerk.

stereotypes – mostly projections of white insecurity. If whites are individuals, so is everyone else.

sub-Saharan Africa – racist geography that tries to sound “objective”.

terrorist – One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter is another man’s nutcase. Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill were both “terrorists”.

tribal lands – use “country”.

tribe – use “nation” or “ethnic group”, which is what their white counterparts are called.

universal – use “Western”.

village – use “town”, the term almost always used for white settlements of the same size.

warrior – use “soldier” or at least “fighter”. No one calls George Washington a “warrior”.

world – use “Western world”.

Read original story here.

 This piece was reprinted by Migrant Tales with permission.

  1. Farang

    This guy is obviously an idiot 🙂 Is he trying to find racism everywhere?

    Anyway, in this text he even contradicts himself:

    First he says we shouldn’t use term “Middle East”, because “East of what?” But then he suggests that we should use term “Western”.

    And he suggests using terms like “Muslim world”. That is pure racism. With that logic for example Europe is non-muslim world, and that doesn’t make sense. Is Julian seriously suggesting that the world divides in two regions: a) muslim world and b) everyone’s world. Meaning muslims have every right to have their own part of world, where nobody else has no business, or atleast non-muslims are outsiders.

    This is one disgusting person.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Disgusting person? I wouldn’t say so. He’s just give you a piece of reality. Now you know how some minorities feel when you color your world to suit your ethnocentric world view.

  2. Jssk

    The image is implying that there is only 2 kinds of people in the world, european and “others”? This is the same mistake that eurocentrists are doing.

    But the blog post does have a good point. It wasnt long ago when finns were generally regarded as backwards forest people.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      I suspect Julian Abagond is speaking of whites, or people who are of European background. These live in countries like the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and in many, many parts of the world.

    • PS voter

      Judging from the post on Migrant Tales, where there never seems to be anything positive about Finns and never anything negative about immigrants, I am not sure that the negative and racist attitudes towards Finns have disappeared. If my impression is wrong, it would be good idea for Migrant Tales to have a bit more evenhanded approach and instead of constantly criticising Finns and Finland, sometimes show at least a bit of gratitude and perhaps even some criticism of immigrants. That would defuse many issues, perhaps even racism, that the current approach on Migrant Tales is causing.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –If my impression is wrong, it would be good idea for Migrant Tales to have a bit more evenhanded approach and instead of constantly criticising Finns and Finland, sometimes show at least a bit of gratitude and perhaps even some criticism of immigrants.

      In the first place, I’m not an immigrant although I’ve been always made to feel that way in this country too many times and by too many. I’m a Finnish citizen with Finnish relatives. I have lived most of my adult life in this country. See my situation and that of tens of thousands of others from different backgrounds who claim this land to be their home, a bit of a same situation Russification period in a 2010s context. Just like when the Russians aimed to impose themselves by undermining Finland’s autonomy, we have to build our own history and place in this country.

      MT’s gripe is not with Finland per se, even though we speak out against discrimination, but against parties like the PS that openly attack immigrants and visible minorities. We understand that the PS are not the only party promoting intolerance. We can see these among all political parties and quite widespread in our society.

      I’m grateful for many things. I’m grateful that I can live in a country where people can in theory live with dignity. If we allow intolerance to get the upper hand in our society, even that right will be eventually lost. You cannot build social justice and equality while socially excluding others.

    • Mark

      PS Voter

      Judging from the post on Migrant Tales, where there never seems to be anything positive about Finns and never anything negative about immigrants, I am not sure that the negative and racist attitudes towards Finns have disappeared.

      If all other things were equal and immigrants were otherwise guaranteed an equal status with Finnish citizens by a vast majority of Finnish citizens, I might find reason to agree with you. But the truth is that defending immigrants in Finland against the ethnicisation of politics and crime is itself a full-time job and one in which one is fighting against the majority tide – something that will never produce a total balanced picture in ‘response’.

      However, you do exercise an element of selective memory when you reflect on the ‘positive about Finns’ that is reflected in MT. My children are Finnish. My wife is Finnish. Same for Enrique and others that are involved in MT. We spend a great deal of our energy DEFENDING the ideological position of Finland in regard to tolerance. Governments in Finland have ALREADY enacted a great deal of legislation geared towards equaltiy and protecting the rights of minorities – so the question now is whether Finland can live up to its Constitutional, legislative and international pledges.

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