Essay 1

Submitted By chrisyhsu
Words: 1904
Pages: 8

Christy Hsu
IGE 220
1 November 2012
Societal Views: Black vs. White
Human’s natural instinct is to stray towards others who share the same interests and values as they do. We tend to group ourselves with people who are similar to us and associate ourselves with the people and things we like. We create our social identity based on our surroundings and the people we are around the most. Although otherness is apparent in almost every situation (gender, religion, politics, sexual orientation) where one group can be more dominant than the other, the otherness that has caused us to see certain people in one light is caused by our society. The most common incidents of othering occurs within races which traces back to 1400s when African Americans were first looked down on for having a different skin color. In Do the Right Thing, the differences and the dominance between the whites and the blacks are clearly shown through the eyes of the “othered”. In “The African Writer and the English Language” and “The Danger of a Single Story”, the speakers are also able to portray those who were othered based merely on their skin color. The authors set up the sense of otherness through racial aspects and shows that in each society where whites and blacks coexist, there is going to be otherness. Western history has over the course of time greatly generalized numerous cultures around the world. These stereotypes created in the minds of students of Western history have now created a sort of prejudice not unlike the other Western ideologies of divine right and manifest destiny. There is a sort of predetermined condescension among the Western world that has driven the formation of the many stereotypes of other cultures. To allow one story to become the story of a culture is to insult the same culture by assuming it is a shallow, surface-deep culture. What truly defines a culture is the connection between the many stories of the people within that culture. The profoundly different but still strikingly similar stories of the people in the same culture form a unique tale of a group of people who can be individual but still connected to those around them. The many intricacies of a culture will surely be lost within its generalization. The many details of a culture that its inhabitants latch on to get lost in the Western perception of it. A prime example of this oversimplification of culture can be found in Africa. As a continent, Africa is home to countless cultures. They speak different languages, and perform different social rituals. They look very different from each other too, but over generalizing racism has caused them all to be the same in many westerners’ eyes. It seems to be easy for some to bunch all these cultures into one African culture, but this is not just. For Africa to be represented as a whole, the cultures’ uniqueness must be signified. The detail-rich cultures tell the story of Africa, and the similarities and links between the cultures unite the continent. The details of a culture cannot possibly be known by someone outside of said culture. Having to translate the stories from the indigenous language into English makes it even harder to chronicle the details of a culture. Achebe discusses this difficulty and in looking into translation problems one can deduce that the reason it is so hard to translate a culture’s language into English is because the language is part of the culture. There are too many details quite literally lost in translation for any non-native speaker to begin to grasp the essence of a culture. Western Europeans, because of this fact alone, cannot truly understand African culture through an English translation. The othering of Africans and their cultures by Western Europe has been caused by their lack of understanding and still persists today. Racism runs rampant throughout the world still, with views of superiority over others still being based on misunderstandings of others. We are all the same race, we love