I recently heard the term “Cultural Humility” and found it to be an important concept for me to grasp as I work with so many different cultures here at FIRM. I am used to hearing the term “Cultural Competency” and also use this term often when describing how certain programs or funding must understand what works in other cultures. This is as opposed to doing things that they think works in a specific culture or considers whatever works in predominant cultures works in other cultures as well. A lack of “Cultural Competency” can certainly get us into trouble; however, “Cultural Humility” takes it a step further.
Cultural Humility is defined as “the ability to maintain an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented (or open to the other) in relation to aspects of cultural identity that are most important to the [person]”. According to Waters and Asbill (American Psychological Association), there are three main components to pursuing cultural humility:
- A life-long commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique: Cultural humility requires learning everyday about the cultures of others and never acting like we have learned everything that can be learned about another’s culture. Once we think we know, we have lost the very essence of the concept!
- A desire to fix power imbalances where non ought to exist: Each person from a different culture has incredible power to educate us in a new way. Unfortunately, many times, the value of this new knowledge is not given the same weight as say a Master’s Degree. They are both powerful in the same way, but are just different. A true pursuit of Cultural Humility will balance the scale of the value of other cultures as opposed to the feeling that it is not that important.
- An aspiration to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others: We must be willing to understand other cultures and those power imbalances that exist. However, this is not effective without moving it to the next level of action. I once heard that there is a progression of knowledge from apathy (I do not care), to sympathy (I care) to empathy (which leads to action). Cultural Humility requires the action of advocating for these cultures and changing the systems that keep them in their place.
This is essential to the work we do at FIRM each and everyday. This is essential to the work of the Church, to being a resident in Fresno to being a human being. May we all consider where we are at and if we are culturally humble or if we are culturally proud. May the community know of FIRM that we are Culturally Humble, which only reflects the clear love of Jesus for all of His people and their beautiful cultures!
Peace and Love,