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The Fork in the Road: Moving Beyond Cultural Competence and Towards Cultural Humility

As we continue to create a culture of health, it’s important that we take a step back to define and understand this term, and how significant it can be to the movement’s success.

kidsoutside.jpgBy Dr. Ashley White, We-Collab

At some point in time we all have been a part of a training or course focused on teaching us how to be culturally competent. Cultural competence suggests that one has the ability to understand, communicate effectively, interact, and be responsive to persons from cultures other than one's own. Yet when we left that training did we really have the tools and knowledge to indeed be "competent" in someone else's culture?

For years, I've been grappling with the freedom in which we use the word cultural competence to suggest that we are in fact equipped to work with people and communities unlike our own. How do we know when we are truly culturally competent? Is it a certain level that we reach? A magical number of interactions with racial, ethnic, or socioeconomically diverse communities? Or is it simply quantified in the number of CEUs and college credits we have attained throughout the course of our careers. At what point does this competency give us the authority to speak and make decisions on behalf of the community? 

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