I avoided cable news outlets in preparation for the 2022 midterms. I tried.
Skipping along channels one day, I listened to a White male voice. He lauded being from Florida and evoked “tradition” back into our country. He longed for an exclusive society with specific traditions. How does that look? One Nationality! Full Assimilation.
Generations in his one nationality have passed down preferred traditions. But isn’t he wishing a shift back into an American culture of traditional norms exclusively from colonization? Did he know what culture or tradition meant?
They are not the same.
Culture is a whole made up of beliefs, values, ethics, language, music, dance, cooking — the arts. A nation of groups from a myriad of cultures or ethnicities express culture uniquely.
Remember there are no laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
If no laws, then people have freedoms within cultures. They can opt out of constraints that don’t fit who they are or how they want others to recognize them as human beings. The original system doesn’t fit everyone.
The US is not a monolith for any one aspect of culture.
Racial groups within the whole pass traditions down from one generation to another too. Those traditions matter!
Why it Matters?
It does. Non-dominate groups have settled into the “American” cultural notion of a melting pot. The system was set hundreds of years ago. My parents acquiesced within the requisites for “American” language. This was counterintuitive to an upbringing in Spanish speaking homes.
In the late 50s they followed the American tradition for an American dream. Speak English only! Ha.
Something within me yearned for a whole heritage. So, I acquired the Spanish language through immersion and study in my late twenties.
Why it matters is evident with today’s political climate too. The gentle man from Florida shouldn’t ignore his yearning to denounce non-dominate cultures / traditions.
Nationalism’s call back to history for a King matters in a multicultural nation! We can’t ignore fear mongering others back into one way. We shouldn’t politely walk away from responding to such pressing conversations.
Cooking & Food, Aspects of Culture.
Sharing cultural competence matters. Last week my brother, nephew and I prepared a traditional holiday food. Pasteles. Masa of green bananas and a savory pork stew wrapped kind of like a tamale. But not. Pasteles need skills to create: blend, cut, and chop particular ingredients for a sofrito.
Cultural food matters to PR families of Tiano Indian, African American, and European decent.
Traditional formulas for pasteles differ from the East to West Coast. Banana leaves, paper or foil encases pasteles. Folded or tied with string doesn’t matter to families waiting to devour the delight during family gatherings.
Responsible Citizens Talk to Multiethnic People!
I’m biased! I prefer my tribe to be versed experientially. That’s a comfort zone. But should I be fixed in that place? Traversing beyond a single culture like food is simple. Eating cultural food doesn’t make for human connection with other cultures.
Multiculturalism isn’t a misnomer either. Multiculturalism is a picture of humanity just as “making eye contact and small talk” is with a close friend. Embrace. Connect.
It is part of being … a responsible member of society. It is also a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down social barriers, and understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.”
So, be comfortable to look acquaintances and colleagues in the eye with chit-chat. Say hello to a shy neighbor. Stop while out on a walk to open lines of communication with a passer-by. Become interconnected with non-dominate groups. Authentic interactions and reproaches are subtle. Be vigilant!
A smile, a handshake, or a word of greeting- banal gestures in a normal situation-[take] on great significance.
Cultural Competence and Leadership
One way I communicate with others is with cultural food. I find it’s easy to open dialogue about the PR culture.
I’m from California. Many assume I’m Mexican here because of where I live. I love Mexican culture and traditions; but PR’s history and culture differ.
“Cultural competence (CC) refers to how well you can interact effectively with people from cultures other than your own. Cultural Competence includes ‘an experiential understanding and acceptance of the beliefs, values, and ethics of others as well as the demonstrated skills necessary to work with and serve diverse individuals and groups.”
Indicators for cultural competence are broad. Below are summary markers akin to 21st Century Leadership. Difference Matters, Communicating Social Identity, 2011.
· Awareness: Do you know your own culture/traditions? How do they so up? How do they shape your perceptions and communication style?
· Attitude: Are you respectful of various heritages? Are you open minded and sensitive to other cultures?
· Knowledge: Who holds the power structures? How do those structures impact non-dominant groups? Learn about other cultures! How are non-dominate groups prevented from accessing resources from the power structures in an organization?
· Skills: Develop, Use, and improve skills for cross-cultural communication (verbal/nonverbal). Be mindful of miscommunication on social media platforms about disadvantaged cultures.
The Point for 21st Century Leaders
Cultural Competent leaders ADVOCATE for all! How we lead in one space is how we lead in all spaces. So begin with familial members to engage. How easy is it to communicate with the mindset of the gentleman from Florida?
There is a synergy that transpires with human connection. Ask the right questions. Prepare to respond with action to create a multicultural nation.
Allen, B. J. (2011). Race Matters. In Difference matters: Communicating social identity (pp. 65–91). essay, Waveland Press.
Snyder, T. (2021). On Tyranny Graphic Edition Illustrations by Nora Krug. Ten Speed Press.