I have to comment on an email I received some time ago that was more of a press release talking about a partnership, and as I scanned it my eyes caught a line: “increasing cultural competence.”
I had to stop and think a second, was this organization implying somehow that they were incompetent beforehand?
Also, I had to check Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, just to see what it said:
“Cultural competence is a term used for the ability of people of one culture to understand, communicate, operate, and provide effective services to people of another given culture, or in other words, cross-culturally. The term is fairly recent but has become widely used in the fields of education, social work, and healthcare regulatory compliance within the United States, to discuss acceptance of persons from a wide array of diverse backgrounds and cultures. In the field of linguistics, for example, the use of the term “competence” refers to the ability to communicate effectively in a particular language or community of speakers.”
“In the framework of the delivery of human services, then, cultural competence implies professional behavior that avoids racist or discriminatory practices while providing care to people of different cultural backgrounds, or behavior that is sensitive to linguistic, religious, and class differences. In professional circles, cultural competence is a measurable construct against which individuals and organizations can be assessed. Training (through a non-defect approach) of persons or systems can then be implemented to improve cultural acceptance and effectiveness. Cultural Competence can also denote a state of cultural health.”
You know a hundred years ago when my ancestors got off the boat from Germany I don’t think there was someone greeting them on the docks seeking to increase their cultural competence, and you know what, everything turned out alright!
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