With time, I have started to call my continent (with a great degree of sarcasm, mind you) the "Backyard" of the United States of America.
I grew up thinking that my culture was part of Western culture. To add this: In Latin America, we not only grow up worshipping the United States, at times to the point of imitation, but also we grow up thinking "West is Best" (namely: "Civilized" -whatever that bullshit means- as opposed to the "Barbaric" East -Again, whatever that bullshit means-) and that it has dominated, so that is the best culture. I could give a lot of examples on how this is manifested in Venezuela, but that would make my entry painfully long.
When I started to come in contact with Middle Eastern and Asian people, they opened my eyes not only to the fact that they were as "civilized" as the oh-so-great West, but what really started to open my eyes was when they say "the West is a matter of culture. We consider the West to be (the United States of) America and Europe."
I talked about that to my family and they took some offense in that, despite of the fact that we realized that our culture is not as individualistic as the US of A and Europe (Disclaimer: not right or wrong here, just different). My mother reminded me: "Yes, we might have differences, as well as some similar family values with Easterns, but culturally, we are still Western." I can create a lot of controversy for saying this to a good number of Latinos. They can take great offense about this issue.
I look at some literature published in the US about racial issues, and much of it in fact does not count Latin America as part of Western culture.
I am not saying, however, that we are Eastern either (fellow Latinos have made assumptions about this one too). What I have really started to take a closer look at, is that there is no "black and white, east or West" kind of thing, that we have to appreciate the greys. And we could start for stop believing that the West is the only "Civilized" and "Right" way. And particularly that the United States is not the "Civilizing Force that Latin Americans have to follow.
But I am also analyzing that the Euro/American centric views of the United States have really impacted us Latin Americans, and it took me coming to the very epicenter of this influence to realize that. This very thing is what makes us often have contempt or disdain for many of the things we have at home.
Basically, I have started to grow an interest in how the "Eurocentric" (for lack of a better term) views/system of the United States of America extends its influence to Latin American countries and people.
Cross-Posted with a few communities. I apologize.