In the event that ethnocentrism is taken out of context or has reached an offensive tone, it may be suppressed with cultural relativism, the belief that a culture must be understood on its own terms.
From the African American perspective, culture encompasses all we know, all we feel, and all we have absorbed from our elders (whippings, the teaching of specialized skills, living within your blackness, etc.).
Such ideals usually sets the tone for what sociologist would refer to as ethnocentrism, the attitude that one's own culture is superior to those of others.
Though it exists from one degree or another in every society, it may also serve as the glue that holds a society together.
From the earliest days of American slavery in the 17th century, slave owners sought to exercise control over their slaves by attempting to strip them of their African culture. Slave owners deliberately tried to repress independent political or cultural organization in order to deal with the many slave rebellions or acts of resistance that took place in the southern United States, Brazil, Haiti, and the Dutch Guyanas.
The physical isolation and societal marginalization of African slaves and, later, of their free progeny, however, facilitated the retention of significant elements of traditional culture among Africans in the New World generally, and in the U. African cultures, slavery, slave rebellions, and the civil rights movements have shaped African-American religious, familial, political, and economic behaviors.
At the same time that non-white groups increased precipitously in number, the advent of the era of multiculturalism has sparked a renewed recognition and appreciation of the many different groups that have contributed to the growth and development of the country.
Although these changes have had profound implications for many racial and ethnic groups in the United States, it is African American culture that has emerged as a powerful phenomenon.
It is relative to time, place, and particular people.
Learning about other people can help us to understand ourselves and to be better world citizens.