America-centrism is annoying but inescapable in nearly every corner of the internet I’ve come across. In the last three weeks, it began to really get on my nerves, for two reasons. The first was that it meant that news items coming from America overshadowed similar stories to the point where it was impossible to get Americans to pay attention or care about the non-American items. I’m speaking, of course, of the tragic deaths of Michael Brown, Tina Fontaine, and Colton Crowshoe. I saw about five times the coverage of the first name than I did the other two. All three were murder victims who faced the terror of police/state violence against children of colour. But Michael Brown was American, so his tragic murder meant he became a household name, even in Canada, whereas it was only with other Indigenous people in Canada that I could have discussions about Tina and Colton. All three of them should be household names. All three of their terrible murders deserve international attention.

The other reason was, the more sinister and annoying part of America-centrism is the assumption that you can take American cultural truths, American understandings, American historical memory, and transfer it to any other country and understand any situation going on there perfectly well. Even the best-intended and most worldly Americans can often fall victim to this.

What gets me about this is that this produces disastrous results for understanding even Canada. Perfectly nice, reasonably intelligent Americans have made this mistake when trying to talk about Canadian political history and current events, and it irritates me. But in the larger picture of things, if it is so ill-fitting for a country which is culturally and linguistically and geographically one of the closest to the United States, I can only imagine the effect this mindset creates on other nations. 

 

 

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