Is there a word that states the following:

I admit I lack knowledge and understanding of what it is like to grow up or live in another culture?

For example some people say white people are racist because they don't understand what it is like to grow up as a black person. Is there a word to acknowledge I understand that fact without being called a racist. I don't know what is like to be Muslim either or Asian or American Indian, ect.

  • This is a fine line to walk. I'd likely err on the side of caution and would express it in a sentence or two rather than using a single word. (Which I don't think exists.)
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 18:56
  • A single word for this may be hard to find, especially with all the nuances you want. What's wrong with more than one? Look for synonyms in a thesaurus or parochial, insular, out-of-touch. I don't think you'll get a single word that also has self-knowledge of that. Sympathy but not empathy?
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 19:15
  • What about "to err through ignorance" ?
    – Graffito
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 19:26
  • A single word? No.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 22:36
  • A word or phrase to prevent others from calling you a racist? In the US, also No.
    – deadrat
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 2:37

2 Answers 2


This sounds like one of the several meanings of insular:

separated from other people or cultures : not knowing or interested in new or different ideas

(link and text from Merriam-Webster)

Per your description, this is how I would imagine it being used:

Alice: You've no idea what life is like for us, Bob. You are such a racist.

Bob: I think it's rather extreme of you to call me racist. I admit my childhood was fairly insular, but that doesn't mean I would discriminate against you.

  • As the other answer, this does not imply anything about what you don't know. It just explains why you don't know anything, rather than acknowledging that you don't.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 19:02

The way you described it sounds fine: "I acknowledge that we grew up in different cultures and that those cultures are probably pretty different." Trying to say anything else might be over-complicating it, imho.

But if you're looking for alternatives, you might say that you recognize your privilege.

I can't find an official reference for this specific term, but googling recognize privilege returns a ton of results showing its use.

This has a connotation that you're admitting that parts of your life might have been easier than parts of other lives, which may or may not be appropriate depending on your context.

You might also say that you've had a sheltered life:

protected from difficulties or unpleasant realities.

"she led a sheltered life until her mother and father went through a bitter divorce"

This carries the connotation that maybe you were a bit naive or unaware, which may or may not be correct for your context. Again, it's going to depend entirely on what you're trying to say.

  • These phrases and words go more about defining your own side of things, rather than the things you have no clue about.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 18:54
  • @Helmar Isn't that exactly what the OP was asking for? A way to explain your state of not understand what it's like to grow up in a different culture? Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 18:55
  • No, you are making the reader/listener interpret what you imply by having a sheltered childhood. There is no acknowledgement of anything inside, it's an excuse. The first works way better but still focuses on yourself. I recognize my privilege. Sucks to be you. Has no break in consistency. As such the first part does not imply any acknowledgement of what you don't know.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 19:00
  • @Helmar I respectfully disagree with pretty much everything you just said. Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 19:10
  • That - of course - stays your prerogative. :)
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 19:11

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