The term “cultural competency” has become controversial within the racial equity field, because it has become understood as helping people (often white, middle/upper class people) provide effective services to other people (clients, new immigrants and refugees) who are from different racial/ethnic and class groups than the service provider. Some of the work done under the guise of cultural competency came to be associated with white dominant culture thinking.
Paul Kivel, who uses the term multicultural competency, notes that this is a lifelong process that “… should provide you with skills for promoting the leadership of those from the cultures in which you are competent. As we become more multiculturally competent, we increase our effectiveness in working with diverse populations, but we cannot substitute for people who are experts in their own culture.”<p class [...]
“Any attempt to change a situation either politically or otherwise should be based on the transformation of our own consciousness… You have to understand yourself to some extent, and to the people in the communities, to their deepest desires, their suffering. That kind of deep looking will bring about more understanding of self and of the community… You learn to look not with individual eyes, but with the community eyes. Because the collective insight is always deeper than individual insight.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk
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