The foreign influx on ethnocentrism and the way we perceive race

Warsan Garrow
5 min readMay 20, 2024
Photo by Rafael Garcin on Unsplash

I have been walking on planet Earth for quite a while, and here is a noticeable change I have been made aware of in the way we perceive race and each other.

Driven by an untameable curiosity, a traveller with solid roots in Africa’s east. Perhaps also nomadic.

I grew up in the West, where I had been surrounded by Whites most of my life.

At twelve, I learned the meaning of the word Arab in the Turkish language, it means black.

If a Turkish kid keeps calling you an Arab and you dont understand. He is basically calling you by your skin tone.

While studying, I tutored third-generation ethnically Turkish children. There, I picked up a thing or two about culture and mindset.

Great food, by the way.

Arabs and Turks don’t like each other that much. And so, as a way to differentiate themselves from the Arabs the Turks linguistically use the word Arab sometimes intended as an insult for brown and black people.

For some reason, I never stood still or thought of those who are ethically white as something extraordinary or special.

The first white boy i rejected was dark blonde and slim.

We were twelve, and I, too, could go to the school dance for 12-year-olds. But only for a few hours.

He wanted to dance with me, but he dared not to come up to me to ask himself. Instead, he sent his friend
I thought then already
What a twat.

I had friends, acquaintances, and neighbours who wanted a tan and who would spend hours laying in the sun to endure the heat and the sweat, to get red uneven tan lines, and to get sunburned.

After a tedious process of soaking up the sun and two weeks of a healthy tan, we would laugh when their skin started peeling off again.

The Whites I grew up with loved being in the sun and wanted to look darker.

Those Whites I knew chased the darkest shade of what they could become.

They would tell me they were jealous of my natural brown skin. They wanted to look like me.

We were fine.
We were good together.
There was no fuzz.
There was no competition. We wanted only good things for one another. We were cordial, and there was an unspoken favourable factor.

Adulting has taught me also the strange favouritism amongst Whites themselves. Certain whites are cool and fun without a doubt, while the attitude towards others equally as white was sceptical but never as apprehensive as it was towards certain Muslims or blacks as we were exposed to from the media.

The things I learned about race and its fascinating dynamics only happened from 2010 and after. By then, I had changed most of my regular white friends for foreigners and followers of the Islamic faith.

Because I did not want to be an exception.

There was criticism and derogative terminology for every ethnic group, including Muslims.

I had always been the most religious out of my peers, which did not necessarily mean boring.

A world opened up for me of blunt contradictions. The world of fair and lovely, yes to lip injections, hair transplants, rhinoplasty, and as we know it today more than just that. But religious devotion in the month of Ramadan.

I learned about the vital difference between culture and religion. And how some mistake cultural habits for religious customs they then want others to adopt.

I immersed

myself in other cultures, attended and hosted dinner parties, and expanded my tastebuds.

I was confronted with strange male and female relations in certain cultures that some white reverts came to adopt (nothing to do with the Islamic faith).

I saw a woman once put shoes on her husband’s feet.

I asked her why she did that as he was a perfectly healthy twenty-something-year-old. He was a bit on the chubby side as he was well-fed but not disabled.

She answered me that in her culture, women are required to serve their husbands.

A painful and sad confrontation. I could not believe it. So, I dismissed it as an isolated cultural incident.

I remember attending a lecture where men and women were segregated and where women afterwards had to exit the building through the same entrance as those from the opposite sex.

The funniest thing ever happened. After the women walked down the stairs, they turned abruptly towards the walls as they walked out.

During another lecture where they had a separate entrance for the men and women. The women were requested to walk on the other side of the street.

The irony here also again was that most of the attendees were young people working, moreover attending Western educational systems where they were part of the regular gender mixing.

Cultures impact each other, but exaggeration is an understatement in some cases.

I crossed path with a revert and asked her where she attended lectures.

Her answer was in line with the very cultural woman.

This one did not attend lectures as she failed to understand the language.

It was her husband who taught her at home.

While doing so in that process, her husband is free to tweak the context.

In the same circumstances I found the sweetest nineteen year old.

An Asian in a miserable marriage with a Middle-Eastern man she was forced into by her stepfather with the encouraging bold and savage words of; “ You’re Asian do you think you pretty enough to be with a ‘White’ man.”

Sometimes, the choices people make are not out of self-interest but rather under duress. Choices that seem natural and fit within the culture could be deceiving no matter how they then grow on to that individual.

Maybe the stepfather was tired and wanted to excuse himself from the responsibility he had over his stepchild.

I am seeing more interviews online where top models of colour are sharing when and how they were met with racism for the first time.

We learn from every individual we cross paths with. And though we are not always able to change someone’s circumstances or fail to properly understand. A positive word of compassion can make a difference.

Projected self-hatred, reverse psychology, and shaming are the go-to tactics that have worked to repress, control, and disadvance women and people in general for centuries.

Religious inclination does not exempt people from the whimsical affairs of wrongdoing and evil. Nor does it shield them from losing their souls to greed or become self-absorbed.

When an ethnic male feels the urge to get upset by a “White-Cow” remark and starts calling you a rat. That when it sinks in; some ethnic groups are well aware of how their interjection is ruining certain gene pools.

As cultural diversification is slowly fading out and the world is progressing rapidly, mostly technological-wise. Simultaneously, we are culturally degenerating.

There is no misunderstanding when there is an ulterior motive.




Warsan Garrow

Observer, Critical Thinker, General Enthusiast & Passionate writer❣ My work is intended for educational purposes | warsangarrow.