A few weeks ago I got into a taxi in Toronto. The driver was South Asian (no surprise.) He asked me where I was from and a lively conversation ensued in which he told me about Tamil Nadu, the part of India he is from, and some of its fascinating history and present.
I learned that Tamil Nadu was one of the first states in India to have public education and that the medical college was one of the first to admit women. He shared with me about the high school examination process (national) and the limited spots for entry into University programs. He proudly stated that the CEO of Google is from Tamil Nadu and that many of the top tech people in the world are coming out of this same province. His assertion was that soon those running the tech world will be brown.
It was a fascinating discussion about a country I know very little about. And about which, on a day to day basis –through the local news and newspapers – I have little opportunity to learn. It reminded me of how little I know about the world, and how easy it is to think that what I’ve learned and am learning is complete. Which is frightening, because how can it be? And yet…
The international news we are provided is so limited, and yet it is easy to think we are getting the news. Just like our school curriculum, we get a portion – which is determined by those in power. And in fact, we don’t even get a full picture of what is happening in our own country – for example, when was the last time you heard an update about the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada?
We learn by commission and also by omission. What we don’t hear about we can easily assume doesn’t exist. And then it is possible for the mind to take that further and assume that what we do in our own countries – especially living in North America, or the “developed” world is “it” – better, more advanced. That’s called ethnocentrism. And in North America, we can add Eurocentrism – because we are still operating with a colonizing mentality.
Expand Your Mind
30 minutes expanded my mind. The fact that it was in a taxi, and what that says about our immigration policies and the realities highly educated immigrants face when they arrive here could be a whole other blog.
Want a challenge?
Sign up for my weekly Inclusion Insight – same topic, but with a challenge to help you see more.