Cultural Competency: Trasforming Conflict Into Unity

1716 words - 7 pages

The United States of America is infamous for being a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. The diversity in America is great and in theory is an amazing asset to this nation. However, as a society we tend to allow our differences to segregate us and alienate those who are different. By not embracing the diversity among us, many complications are created. For instance, as a result of an inability to respect other cultures, prejudice, discrimination, and tragic violence often occur. People begin to fight with others for the sole reason that they do not hold all the same beliefs. Also, as a result of the difficulties associated with poor acceptance of cultural diversity, ...view middle of the document...

The movie Crash explores several different people from different backgrounds and cultures and their interactions with each other. In this film, the tragedy that is inevitable when varying groups of people demonize each other becomes apparent. For example, in the film there is a scene where Officer Hansen, played by Ryan Philippe, picks up a black hitchhiker named Peter. Officer Hansen seemed uneasy as the drive progressed and a quarrel erupted between the two. At that point, Peter reached into his jacket saying he wanted to show Officer Hansen something. Officer Hansen quickly took out his gun and shot Peter, thinking that Peter was reaching for a gun in his jacket. As the life drained from Peter, his hand fell open and revealing a St. Christopher statue, one identically matching the statue on Officer Hansen’s dashboard. This scene is significant because it demonstrates how prejudices lead to rash and tragic outcomes. Officer Hansen was quick to shoot Peter because of the stigma he associated with the black race. Officer Hansen quickly assumed that Peter was reaching for a gun without considering other options. Little did he know that he had something in common with Peter, the statue. Officer Hansen and Peter were more similar than initially believed to be, despite racial differences. This situation shows how, as individuals, we are quick to identify the differences between ourselves and outsiders and fail to acknowledge our similarities. Unfortunately, because of our presumed cultural differences rash actions are often taken, resulting in tragedy. If, as a society, we are able to practice cultural competency, make an effort to understand each other, and respect our differences, we would be much less likely to act on these differences in destructive ways. If we embrace our differences we will be able to appreciate them and unify ourselves for the common good.
In addition to violence and destruction, miscommunication and a lack of understanding also result when we fail to respect cultural differences. Nobody is blind to the fact that we are all different. American culture stresses that we are all individuals and that we all have different backgrounds. However, when nobody makes an effort to appreciate somebody else’s differences, clear communication among different people becomes nearly impossible which leads to misunderstandings and social difficulties. In Anne Fadiman’s book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down readers can see clearly how cultural differences lead to miscommunication, and subsequently complications in a young girl’s journey with epilepsy. Lia Lee was a young girl from the Hmong culture who was battling epilepsy in the American healthcare system. Her parents consistently brought her to American doctors every time she had a seizure yet never truly understood what was happening to their daughter. Mr. and Mrs. Lee were noncompliant with Lia’s treatment; they would double up on certain medications and...

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