By Julian Abagond
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:
- 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.
- Prejudiced thinking: words that see people of an out-group as all the same or screwed up.
- Exoticization: words that would not be applied to white people under the same circumstances.
- Loaded words: words that assume the West is best.
- The centre with no name: use ”Western”, “white”, “Christian”, “European”, “American”, etc, instead of assuming them.
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.