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The Elements of Cultural Humility

As American society grows more multicultural and globalized, the healthcare system is starting to integrate diversity and cultural humility into its core values. This perspective asserts that our cultural identities are heterogeneous and intersectional constructions based on history and the society we grew up in (Yancu & Farmer, 2017). Our beliefs and biases are not inherently superior or more “natural” than anyone else’s, and it is important to approach the viewpoint of other cultures with an open mind and respect. It is a lifelong process of egoless self-awareness and self-critique, challenging power imbalances, and holding institutions accountable (Miyagawa, 2020). I believe the element of self-critique might require the most work for me to feel confident in my ability to engage in deeper equity and inclusion.

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Institutional accountability and mitigating power imbalances are behaviors aimed at external phenomena and are thus easier to sustain than inward self-critique. Put simply; it is much easier to point out flaws in organizations than see them in yourself. Unfortunately, our brains are lazy and prefer to operate according to existing knowledge and expectations. Simplifying reality to conserve brainpower is the reason we perpetuate stereotypes and judge people according to split-second visual perceptions (Freeman & Johnson, 2016). Continuously reflecting and questioning your own beliefs and biases requires maintaining a mental distance from your own perception of the world. Self-critique is the essential element of cultural humility precisely because it is the most difficult to attain. It ultimately prevents us from subconsciously assuming our beliefs are superior and imposing them on others. Constant self-critique is a mentally demanding effort that goes against our natural instincts, and therefore I believe it will require the most work for me to uphold.

References

Freeman, J. B., & Johnson, K. L. (2016). More than meets the eye: Split-second social perception. Trends in cognitive sciences, 20(5), 362-374.

Miyagawa, L. A. (2020). Practicing cultural humility when serving immigrant and refugee communities. Ethnomed, Web.

Yancu, C. N., & Farmer, D. F. (2017). Product or process: Cultural competence or cultural humility. Palliative Medical Hospice Care, 3(1), e1-e4.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Elements of Cultural Humility." December 13, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-elements-of-cultural-humility/.

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