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Cultural Competency: Personal Journey

Where do I start my personal journey towards cultural competency?

 To complete the personal journey page in one year, please use this guide for review and reflection.


Step 1: Read an individual's story on the path she encountered.

Interested in sharing your story?

Submitted stories:

First Generation Immigrant


Step 2: Are you truly self-aware?

What does your path look like at the moment?
Personal Reflection

Personal Reflection

1st step towards cultural competence is an evaluation of our inner beliefs, values, biases, and preferences. Personal Reflection

Empathy:  What if you could see people’s thoughts, feelings?
© 2013 Maribel Bird

Read how this spiral metaphor outlines the progressive path towards cultural competency.


Read an individual's story on the path she encountered.



Tools designed to explore your awareness, knowledge and skills in your interactions with others.


Cycle of Socialization and Liberation

Cycle of Socialization - one begins this cycle at birth, which in turn begins to define one's personality

Read a personal essay on the cycle of socialization

Cycle of Liberation - after one encounters a "critical incident", one's consciousness is raised and begins the path of liberation

Interactive model of cycles

Step 3: Understanding what cultural competency entails.

Cultural Iceberg


How is culture like an Iceberg?

        Cultural Iceberg
Dimensions of Diversity Wheel

Dimensions of Diversity Wheel

How has diversity impacted your life?  Dimensions of Diversity


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Step 4: What is privilege?

“Privilege” is the advantage certain groups have in society based on how closely they conform to what society considers the “norm.” For each group with privilege there are other groups that are disadvantaged or even oppressed. Recognizing one's level of privileges allows one to use that privilege to help those who are at a disadvantage.

“White Privilege” refers specifically to the advantage that white people have in society. The concept of white privilege is not to encourage white people to feel guilty about being white, but to encourage people with white privilege to make sure those who do not have the same privilege are treated in a way that is just and fair. 

Privilege (video below) - Explores the invisible system of racism and white privilege which exists in the United States


"Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack"

"I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin..." plus 49 other situations the privileged can count on. Read more

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

The Right Hand of Privilege 

The Right Hand of Privilege poses the question:  "Do we live in a right-handed or left-handed world?"


Straight Privilege

Daily examples of straight privilege


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Step 5: The Other Side of Privilege

Cracking the Codes of Racial Inequity - Moving stories from racial justice leaders


Neil DeGrasse Tyson:  States what he thinks about race now that he's made it, and almost nobody noticed (note video shows 1 hour and 6 minutes - after you hit play it is about 5 min.)


Unequal Opportunity Race - The following video utilizes a running track metaphor to illustrate the reality of an unequal opportunity race to success in the USA.  Please read intro prior to reviewing video.


Quality and Culture

This link will help you begin your exploration of quality and culture. We encourage you to start by taking the Quality and Culture Quiz. The quiz, which takes about ten minutes to complete, is designed to assist you in learning about how culture influences health care.  Take an expanded look at some cultural groups.

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Step 6: Continuing the Journey

Continuing the Journey

I Can Fix It!

Five easy things you can do starting right now to end racism.  Read more

I Can Fix It!

Cultural Humility:  People, Principles and Practices - How do you act when you come across someone from a different culture?

Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life

Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life

Racial microaggressions are the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden message being communicated. Read more


Cultural and Linguistic Competency

Self-assessment to identify areas to improve cultural and linguistic competency for healthcare workers.

Recommended Readings:

If you want to be a more effective communicator in today's diverse workplace, this book is for you.  Ouch That Stereotype Hurts

This book helps readers understand and combat racism in themselves.  Overcoming Our Racism:  The Journey to Liberation

The struggles of a Hmong refugee family and their interactions with the health care system.  The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

An entertaining story to share important lessons about why diversity efforts are bound to fail unless we really understand how we unconsciously respond to difference and how to move to beyond it. The Loudest Duck

While African Americans managed to emerge from chattel slavery and the oppressive decades that followed with great strength and resiliency, they did not emerge unscathed. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

A surgeon describes her struggles to bring modern medicine to the Navajo reservation in Gallup, New Mexico.  The Scalpel and the Silver Bear 

Although Jim Crow laws have wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status.  The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration n the Age of Colorblindness

A black woman's reflection on how dilemmas of class and race are intertwined.  Where We Stand:  Class Matters

Please forward any comments you would like to share about these resources:

Cultural Competency Home

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