Debunking Misconceptions of Cultures Across the World

Elshadai Aberra | Web Editor-in-Chief


As education on the reality of other cultures around the world stays limited, stereotypes and misconceptions continue to build upon themselves. The Echo offered students from different cultures at Avon an opportunity to debunk these stereotypes. Here’s what they had to say:

Africa

“One of the many misconceptions about Ethiopia is that it is a place of starving children, poverty, and war. Even though there is poverty, similar to most developing countries, Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and a flourishing middle class. I believe it’s important to expand our knowledge of other countries to prevent shallow thinking.” Leeyha Shimelis, 12

“1. Africa is a continent not a country. Thus, nobody speaks “African.” Along with that, Africa is diverse. Over 2000 languages and 3000 different ethnic groups. Seeing it as one country is ignorant.

2. Africans are not all uneducated. Believe me, if education was something that was made accessible to everyone, the number of African doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. would be much higher than it is now.

3. Africa is developing. We don’t all live in mud huts. More and more countries are being urbanized and cities are growing. Lagos for example has a population of about 21 million which is double than London’s.

4. Africa is not chained down by poverty. The thing that bothers me the most about the misconception that Africa is poor is that the people who say that seem to not realize that poverty exists everywhere. Name one continent that does not have poverty. Africans are making do with what we have, chasing our dreams like everyone else.

5. Benin and Nigeria are separate. They may have similarities, for example I’m from Cotonou and I can speak Yoruba while my Nigerian friends are from Lagos and speak Yoruba as well. However, both countries still have their respective histories and cultures.

If people stopped perceiving the world from the exaggerated depictions and portrayals of the media and get out of their comfort zone to see places for themselves, I don’t think stereotypes would even exist.” Jeffrey Ogouyemi, 11

South Asia—

“There’s a lot of religions in India and when I was in elementary a lot of people asked if I worshipped cows or like water. And at that time I didn’t get why they were asking that, but now I get that they just didn’t understand that all of India didn’t believe in one religious concept.” Kajal Kaur, 11

“I think one of the biggest things people fail to recognize is that South Asians don’t have one culture! There are vastly different beliefs, traditions, and cultures within South Asia, and I think people tend to assume that we are all the same.” Zainab Syed, 10

“I think a common stereotype about Indians is that we’re all the same. For example, we all eat butter chicken, practice Hinduism, and speak Hindi. But the reality is that India has many different religions people practice, foods people eat, and distinct languages people speak. Your culture and identity will differ based on the specific part of India you’re from.” Anjani Dent, 12

East Asia—

“A common misconception would be that Japanese people are “quiet” and “soft-spoken”. It is part of our culture to give privacy and respect [to] each other. One of the core principles is to avoid any disagreements or conflicts so we don’t offend people around us. It’s not that we’re “quiet” or “soft-spoken,” it’s more about common courtesy and culture.” Yamana Uno, 12

“The model minority myth often stereotypes Asian Americans as studious, quiet, and obedient, forcing the narrative of “good” vs. “bad” Asians if we don’t fit that stereotype. To have bad grades and mental health issues as an Asian does not mean you’re any less of a person, just like how ethnicity and skin color shouldn’t invalidate hard work and success.” Sophia Ko, 12

Latin—

“In El Salvador there was a civil war that lasted quite some time which lead to a rise in gang violence. I think a lot of people from different countries only see that part of El Salvador or just categorize El Salvador with only being associated with gangs and nothing else, which is rather unfair considering that there is a wider and richer culture in El Salvador. Also, just being Hispanic/ Latino you are considered violent. Though there are some people who do in fact take the time to fully educate themselves, which is a wonderful thing that more people should start doing.” Dayanara Guzman, 11

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