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Mauricio GallardoComptonIntercultural Communications4 Dec. 2017Intercultural Communications Final Essay For the essay, I will address prompt number two which addresses the ways ethnocentrism, stereotyping and prejudice act as barriers to effective intercultural communication.  I will be going into further detail about each of the aforementioned words as well as the negative impact that they might have on intercultural communication. When talking about ethnocentrism, it is firstly important to find out what the word means.  According to our course textbook by Judith M. Martin and Thomas K. Nakayama titled, Experiencing Intercultural Communication, fifth edition on page 55 they say, “Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own cultural group- usually equated with nationality- is superior to all other cultural groups.”  This belief that one’s culture is superb to all other cultures is a significant barrier to intercultural communications because for one, it drastically limits the chances for intercultural encounters and in some instances belittles other cultures when they do not share the same beliefs or values that are held to be “superior”.  If a group thinks they are better than other groups, they will try to limit their interactions with what is deemed “lesser groups” and will try to focus more on intracultural matters.  That being said, not all ethnocentrism or pride in one’s own culture is bad, it can be good.  Having pride in one’s own culture is what keeps that culture alive.  If we value our culture, we make sure that values and traditions are passed onto the next generation.  We must be conscious about our ethnocentrism when it gets to the point that we shun away other cultures’ beliefs, viewpoints, etc and avoid or fear seeing the world through a different cultures’ “eyes”.  It is also important to understand that it is not accurate, fair, or reasonable to judge a culture negatively solely because it does not align with our culture’s views and beliefs. Stereotyping- a form of generalization, can be harmful and act as a barrier to intercultural interactions.  As humans, we are exposed to an enormous amount of data everyday, even though we may not have enough insight, we use our brains to interpret or guess to make things easier for us in situations.  Assuming things can sometimes lead us down an unintended path unconsciously when we associate certain things with a culture and believe that everyone in that culture does a certain thing- a generalization if you will.  Examples of stereotypes that can be harmful to a whole culture include:  All foreigners are illegal immigrants, all college people are poor, all Mexicans like spicy food, all Asians speak one language.  On a basic level a stereotype is something that can fit into this formula:  “All ___ are ___.”  These assumptions or generalizations don’t always have to be bad, some positive stereotypes exist although they shouldn’t be used to judge a whole group, some examples include: “Asians are smart”, “Hispanics are hard workers”, “African-Americans are good at sports”.  A lot of these generalizations can be harmful so we have to be aware of the potential message we would give off to the receivers of our message.  The media, our parents, friends, etc can have a profound effect on how we see the world and how we assume things.  For example, in the early and mid twentieth century there was a whole lot of racial stereotypes in cartoons- especially during the world wars.  The cartoons were intended to promote negative stereotypes such as African-Americans being seen as lazy and eating watermelon.  These stereotypes get ingrained into our brains from so much exposure to them from a variety of different mediums that we have to make a conscious effort to try and discredit them.  By doing so, we can go into an intercultural conversation with a better understanding of dynamics and differences within a culture instead of generalizations.  Believing harmful stereotypes is a disservice and inaccurate assumption of a whole culture as it promotes exaggerations and beliefs that have no truth to them that will have complications if believed often enough during intercultural interactions. According to the book referenced earlier, on page 59 it says, “Whereas stereotypes tell us what a group is like, prejudice tells us how we are likely to feel about that group.”  Being prejudice can be a barrier to intercultural communication because it could lead to hostility towards a group based off of how you feel about a stereotype and not off of actual evidence.  In extreme example of being prejudice, it could lead the individual to discriminate against groups and have favoritism for other groups of people (unequal treatment).  It is interesting to note that being prejudice doesn’t mean that you’re always that outspoken person that has negative feelings towards another culture, prejudism can be subtle even if we don’t notice it at times and it can work on a subconscious level as well.  Sometimes we might not want to admit we are prejudice and try to engage in other cultures’ activities and traditions to reaffirm that belief, even though deep down inside we are actually prejudice (tokenism).  To avoid prejudice thoughts I was always taught, to have the color-blind approach when talking to other cultures- meaning to not pay attention to differences between us.  The book talks about this approach too on page 61, however I feel like this approach isn’t necessarily helpful because it is absurd to ignore physical and cultural differences as much as we try to.  The alternative I like is to talk about what makes each one of us different and try to understand each other and where we come from culturally speaking.(Martin & Nakayama) Discrimination is avoiding or excluding other groups on purpose.  It can stem from previous prejudicial thoughts or stereotypes and is a barrier to communication in that we exclude groups, are hostile to them, or avoid them altogether.  I feel like discrimination is the “mixing pot” of all of the aforementioned beliefs: ethnocentrism, stereotypes, and prejudice.  For example, if a group believes they are better than other groups (ethnocentrism) because they believe a group does something (stereotype) that goes against their own culture (prejudice) than the result if acted upon is discrimination.  Many forms of discrimination are associated with the suffix -ism in which something is favored over the other.  Discrimination can affect intercultural communication because it could be full of hate speech and unjust assumptions that deny equal treatment of a group of individuals. My thoughts on the mentioned topics are this:  Ethnocentrism is good in small amounts, but is harmful when it starts assigning power roles and superiority over other cultures.  Stereotypes are most of the time wrong and are just generalizations of a group that could prove to be untrue.  Prejudice is something that we have to be conscious of so that we don’t unfairly prejudge someone based on past stereotypes we may have heard of them.  Discrimination is terrible and handicaps cultures and provides grounds for hate speech and xenophobia while treating a group unequally and having a negative hostile sentiment towards them.  All of these affect intercultural communications.Work CitedMartin, Judith N., and Thomas K. Nakayama. “Chapter Two: Intercultural Communication:   Building Blocks and Barriers.” Experiencing Intercultural Communication: an Introduction, McGraw Hill, 2014, pp. 55, 59–61.

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