Understanding Cultural Diversity

Today I decided to learn more about multicultural competence after having a conversation with a woman whose situation made my heart hurt for her. In a nutshell she felt that she’s in an unpleasant situation because of her race. I talked to her about finding strength within herself and having the choice to make a conscious decision of letting go of the negative past and adopting the ability to create a new positive life for herself. After listening to her and responding with advice that I genuinely believed to be helpful. I felt we were at an impasse, we were two people coming together to discuss an issue from two different backgrounds. We were experiencing a lack of understanding from each others viewpoint. I wanted to take some time to further comprehend what was happening between us so decided to look into learning more about cultural diversity.

I participated in an awareness exercise online and completed an Implicit Association Test (IAT). I was surprised by my results and a newfound awareness of myself was born. Diversity can be a wide component along with being a tricky thing to understand. If you would like to complete an awareness building exercise you can click on the following link https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

What is Multicultural Competence?

The words “multiculturalism” and “diversity” are defined broadly to include race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, spiritual orientation, age, physical ability/disability, socioeconomic status, geographical locations, and other factors. Multicultural competence involves becoming aware that specific issues exist, learning about them, and developing skills that can be used with the people.

Awareness

Multicultural competence begins with becoming aware of yourself as a cultural being. Unless you have this awareness, you will have difficulty developing awareness of others. You need to understand your own cultural background and the differences that may exist between you and people from different cultures.

Worldview

Worldview is defined as the way we interpret humanity and the world. Due to varying multicultural backgrounds and life experiences, everyone views the world differently. Our own multicultural backgrounds sometimes taught us to view certain groups through stereotyped perceptions that often are inaccurate and demeaning.

We work toward multicultural competence when we develop knowledge of various cultural groups. We also need to learn about socioeconomic influences and give special attention to how racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other oppressive forces may act on other people’s worldviews.

  • Academic study and reading
  • Actively getting involved in communities different from your own
  • Having friends from diverse backgrounds
  • Attending community events, social and political functions, celebrations, and festivals
  • Helping refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers learn English
  • Cooking authentic recipes
  • Listening to culturally diverse music
  • Learning a foreign language

Multicultural learning lasts a lifetime given that everyone is a cultural being with unique life experiences.

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