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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/28/17

Black just doesn't mean Black (neither does White): Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Intelligence

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"Would you play 'Back in Black" by ACDC for me?"--Rayana

by Kevin Stoda, in Oman

One travel writer reveals that all colors are not treated or seen as the same almost anywhere on the planet. On the one hand, "[c]olors play an important role in our lives. They can remind us of a place, a time of year, or our favorite traditions, and can also shape the way we feel. But when it comes to what different colors symbolize in cultures around the world, these associations can vary greatly. Read on for a glimpse into how colors have shaped the history, emotions, and beliefs of different cultures through the ages."

One website writer shares: "An understanding of cultural color and symbolism is essential to anyone doing business with other countries and other societies. These associations with color have been a part of many societies for centuries and you must be aware of both the positive and the negative implications of using particular colors when marketing to these societies.With the advent of the World Wide Web, there is a narrowing of the differences in meanings of colors between different cultures and countries."

Therefore, we ought to take time to learn about our own cultural color biases and the biases or beliefs of colors as accepted or deemed of value by other cultures. These beliefs in the meaning of particular colors either may or may not clash with our own color values. Let's take America as an example of a land of color biases--even though our ancestors come from all over the globe.

Historically, for North Americans, the color red has been associated with " danger, strength, power, determination, passion, courage and energy". The color purple is seen to demonstrate "characteristics of independence, dignity, creativity, mystery, magic, power, luxury, ambition and extravagance" for Americans and most Europeans, too.

In turn, both Americans and many Europeans believe that orange is clearly associated with "enthusiasm, fascination, creativity, determination, distraction, attraction, appetite and endurance." While, the color yellow in America stands often for "joy, intellect, loyalty, unstable, spontaneous, cowardice & honor."

In Europe and America, blue almost always shares meanings related to "depth, stability, trust, loyalty, wisdom, intelligence, and cleanliness" , and green represents "growth, harmony, fertility, money, healing, endurance, novice, ambition, greed and jealousy".


Meanwhile, the Western view of black and white have typically been as follows: Black represents "power, control, intimidation, funerals, death, mourning, [and], rebellion". White is associated with "brides and weddings, angels, hospitals, doctors, peace -- the white dove, purity and cleanliness".

In contrast, in China white means:"death and mourning, virginity and purity, humility, age, [and] misfortune." Meanwhile, in Japan a white color is used to convey a sense of mystery and of the night. Also, in Japan, white may also be associated with "feminine energy -- either evil and a threat or provocative and alluring." Also, in several East Asian countries, white stands for "bad luck."

Likewise, not everywhere in the Middle East-- where I have lived most of the past two decades-- do colors such as "black and white" even have the same or similar means from country to country. For example, one website may claim that in the Middle East: Black is supposed to stand for "evil" or "mystery". White is supposedly for "purity" & "mourning".This is why in some Middle Eastern lands the wife of the dead man at a funeral may wear white as a symbol of mourning in some regions of the Middle East. Meanwhile, men typically wear white thobes as a symbol of purity. However, in Oman some of these ideas are more particular to that culture's people.

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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