Ethnic contributions are those things that a culture or ethnic group has contributed to “mankind”, aka white people.
A few examples:
- Chinese: compass, gunpowder, printing, paper, silk, etc.
- Arabs: algebra, Arabic numerals, “preserving” Greek learning, etc.
- Tainos: tobacco, maize, cassava, hammocks, etc.
- Iroquois: maple syrup, ideas of constitutional government, etc.
Meanwhile white people’s contributions are known as Inventions, Discoveries, Science, the Enlightenment.
As bad as this mindset is, it is way better than what came before:
North of Mexico, most of the people lived in wandering tribes and led a simple life. North American Indians were mainly hunters and gatherers of wild food. An exceptional few – in Arizona and New Mexico – settled in one place and became farmers.
That from a high school textbook on American history by Boorstin and Kelley, still in use in the 1990s.
Even Hollywood’s iconic Sioux were farmers before the Spanish brought horses to North America. Much of the world is fed by maize, potatoes and cassava, which Indians, like Squanto, taught white people how to plant.
Even hunter-gatherers are not “simple”. By age 40 they are walking encyclopedias of history, religion and biology, among other things.
While better than nothing, the “contributions” thing is still Eurocentric:
- Ethnic contributions reconfigure others to the greater good of whiteness. Other cultures are valued only to the degree that they help white people. They do not have value in their own right. They appear as bit players in someone else’s history.
- Ethnic contributions set up white people as the judge of what is important. For example, jazz and hip hop were seen as just “ghetto” music – until they got the White Stamp of Approval.
- Ethnic contributions place white people at the centre of history and push everyone else to the edges. People at the edges (aka, most of the world) live, die and every now and then come up with a Contribution. That is all you need to know about them, pretty much.
- Ethnic contributions favour what white people are good at – science and invention – over other fields of human achievement. Back when they were technologically backward, they made everything about – religion.
- Ethnic contributions wind up favouring white countries and nearby regions since that is where most things come to the attention of white people. For example, it is “Arabic” numerals, even though zero was invented in India and Mexico. It is “Gutenberg invented the printing press” not “Koreans invented printing.” It is “Elvis invented rock and roll,” and “Miley Cyrus invented twerking.” It is “Columbus discovered America”.
- Cool trick #1: Make the people of nearby regions members of your “race”, honorary or otherwise. That way you can claim your race Invented Everything Important, even if your people were unlettered barbarians for most of history.
- Cool trick #2: By reducing people of other races to their contributions, you can put a smiling ethnic face over the ugly parts. Like make it about George Washington Carver, not Jim Crow. Or Squanto, not the Mystic massacre 16 years later.
- What “world” history has taught me
- Eurocentric words
- The lies you were taught about Native Americans
- How white was Ancient Greece?
- white man’s burden
- Hunter-gatherers as not “simple”: