Cultural Competence

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The United States is the prime example of a melting pot, where many different cultures, races, and religions all live and interact together. This accepted diversity stemmed from the several civil rights movements beginning in the 1950s, when African Americans, women, gays, and other minority groups alerted the country to their distinct identity as well as the long history of oppression forced upon them. Currently, it stems from the growing number of immigrants, who in search of opportunity, bring with them unique cultural, linguistic, religious, political, and historical backgrounds, as well as America's increased global connections and interactions. By melding diverse U.S. born groups and foreign born groups, misunderstanding, confusion, and conflict arise from cultural ignorance concerning backgrounds different than one's own. As America becomes more culturally diverse and globally connected, institutions, of which the country is built on, can no longer tolerate any form of discrimination that forms from cultural ignorance and insensitivity. Therefore, it is imperative for professionals in all institutions that interact with diverse populations to have the ability to recognize, understand, and respect cultural differences. In other words, professionals must be culturally competent. There are several definitions of cultural competency, but the most widely used and accepted definition comes from the monograph, Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care, volume I by Terry L. Cross and colleagues (1989). According to Cross, cultural competency is "… a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, policies, and structures that come together in a system or agency or among professionals and enables the system, agency, or professionals to... ... middle of paper ... ...ltural respect, equality, and equity. Cultural inclusion focuses on making the institution inclusive and accessible to all individuals who wish to be apart of it. Cultural respect means being attentive and aware of either a customer or colleague's differing beliefs and backgrounds, and understanding how to respectfully respond to their needs. Equality means accepting others as another human being and giving the individual equal respect and consideration. Lastly, equity simply means to provide easy access to modern necessities, such as health care. By following and practicing these four components together, the entire professional staff develops a uniformed, high level of cultural competency, which then promotes understanding and acceptance of different cultures through knowledge, rather than the injustices of institutional discrimination through cultural ignorance.

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