Mudcat Café message #2805204 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126198   Message #2805204
Posted By: Stower
06-Jan-10 - 04:43 PM
Thread Name: BS: Multicultural Competence
Subject: RE: BS: Multicultural Competence
I have no idea exactly what "multicultural competence" means, since WYSIWYG was "purposely NOT defining this term here", but I would guess it means something like Lighter said. I'd only add that "multicultural competence" seems a strange juxtaposition of two words.

But there's the problem, isn't it? In any institution, or in society in general, if a new term is used that is ill-defined, it is just going to be misunderstood, derided and used as a weapon to attack others who are pro or anti whatever it is. It is a question of communication, surely, by those who wish the term to be understood.

It seems to me there is a clash of two big issues here, and I wonder if this is what Susan had in mind in her original post (and I'd be grateful if you'd indicate this, Susan, if you come back and read this).   

On the one hand, it is surely a good thing to be culturally sensitive. It would be an odd person, it seems to me, who would argue that trying to understand another's cultural perspective and ways of doing things is a bad thing? (I do know such people do exist, though.) Understanding does not necessarily indicate agreeing with, of course.

On the other hand, there is an obvious clash between being culturally sensitive and holding some hard-won political standards and values, such as equality. Should I be culturally sensitive to someone who, brought up in their own culture, believes that women are of less worth than men, or should I give those widely-held beliefs no respect, due to my politics? Personally, I would always go for universal ethical standards over respecting particular cultures that perpetuate inequality.

Just as the "politically correct" jibe has been used as a blind battering ram against anyone who aspires to be culturally sensitive (for example), "respect for culture" has also been waved as a banner to justify turning a blind eye to social injustice (usually by those with a vested financial interest in staying on the right side of brutal rulers or misogynist cultures, it has to be said!). I do not respect any aspect of a culture that wishes to divide people into the more and less worthy of life, social benefits, etc.

So what's my point? To use the language (which I would *never* use outside of this discussion!), I would wish to be "culturally competent", i.e. sensitive to others' cultural mores and values, as long as that did not clash with being "politically correct" (Ugh! It hurts saying that!), i.e. maintaining the standards of equality for black and white, men and women, etc., that have been so hard won, which all cultures have yet to entirely achieve, and which some cultures are still perpetuating the opposite of.

Hope all that makes sense!