Building your Cultural Competency Armour
First off, thank you to all the guest bloggers who shared their stories and their two cents. The amount of direct messages we received about this blog series just shows that we need to keep talking about cultural competency. For now, I'll end this sucker with a little guide (take it as you will) to help allllll of us be better.
Building your cultural competency armour first requires you to fully understand the following:
1) It is nobody’s responsibility to educate you BUT YOU
2) Nobody owes anyone anything
3) Ignorance is not bliss (for everyone else)
If you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU for being open to hearing about our experiences as “creatures” in the crazy bar scene world. The intention of this series is to bring some insight and drop some knowledge. It is absolutely possible to build your cultural competency armor regardless of your race and culture. I think the most important thing to understand is that we all have our truths. Our truths are absolutely relative and unique because they are composed of our own thoughts, experiences, and emotions that make us who we are today. Our truths also allow us to form our opinions based on what we’ve seen or felt before. If you are not a dark skin girl, you will never know what it’s like to be a dark skin girl at a bar. But, you can try and understand by being culturally competent. How might one do that you ask?! Well…
1. First things first and you’ll never guess what it is! …………. RESPECT. Who would have thought right? Ok but in all seriousness, how often do we forget or fail to sincerely respect one another? In my humble opinion, respect is the gateway to actually seeing each other as humans who so happen to make mistakes, and get caught up in the moment. Humans who also don’t look like a like, and speak different languages. Arethra Franklin made a song about it for a reason guys!
2. BUT LINDA LISTEN. LISTEN LINDA. Are you listening? Sometimes we think that we get it. But, we actually don’t because we’re not listening to the personal narrative of culture from the individuals themself. For example, people who see me and assume that I’m from India (which is correct, I’m half East Indian) and then assume I can speak Hindi and name all the Indian curries (which is incorrect) are NOT LISTENING to me. Here’s a great real life example. When I used to serve back back in the day, I had a table of 2 men say, “Hey! You’re Indian!” and I asked how they knew that. Their response, “because you have dark skin and you’re wearing red lipstick” Instead of asking me about ME they’ve have made up their own story about my life. Don’t be that person, because you will come across the “BUT DID YOU ASK??” face, which is embarrassing to get and disappointing to give. My point? Let people speak their truth because when you actively listen you become aware and then you ARE culturally competent.
3. LINDA, listen to yourself! We all need to listen to our own cultural narratives. This point may be the most important because all those biases come from YOU. It is OUR responsibility to become aware of our own biases that have come from our truths and culture. And then when you’ve gathered your opinions and biases use your logic and awareness to filter what is appropriate, relevant and true. Some of us may not even realize the biases we hold towards others, which is why it’s so important to catch your presumptuous thoughts from taking over your ability to understand and reason.
This is a guide, not the cultural competency manifesto so please don’t start World War III over this.
Longevity: Becoming aware and mindful of what we’re putting out into the universe can only result in progress. If we can understand what it means to be culturally competent, so will our kids, and their kids after. WIN, WIN, WIN.
The Lesson: We’ve all gone through our share of cultural turmoil. Some of us have gone through more hardship than others, which means we have a long ways to go. The lesson I’ve taken from all of this is that it is so easy to play the blame game, but we kind of need to look at this from a glass half full perspective or else we’re going nowhere fast. So, go on with ya Succulent Babe self and send light and love like you do. And when your friend or someone you know tells you about a shitty story about someone being culturally incompetent be empathetic, listen and validate them.