Acciones No Reacciones; Actions Not Reactions – The first step toward ‘Cultural Competency’
I recall the moment I came to these realizations. I immediately made the decision to pull myself out of the hype; out of my own thoughts, away from my involvement with the Latin cultural house (LVL), away from my background, and away from my emotions because I knew that what everyone else was saying did not appropriately represent my opinion. More importantly I realized that if I allowed myself to join a side I would prevent myself from coming up with an original and constructive contribution.
That is, very simply, what I am advocating for in this article; for individuals to pause and assess themselves before reacting to a situation. I can’t say I know what the problem is or how to solve it. I don’t know who is to blame or how Trinity should handle this. What I do know, however, is that generalizations, stereotypes, and un-supported accusations are being thrown around thoughtlessly and, more importantly, I know that if there is going to be change it has to start with self.
Individuals should try to use more original, creative, and personal techniques to solve these kinds of issues. We can’t expect to effect real change by hiding behind the protection of the internet forever. These conversations should be happening in person, between individuals, and not groups. This is a notion that I have started advocating for in La Voz Latina. The idea is to change the dynamic of the organization by turning it into a, “more proactive, personal, and outreaching organization that accurately represents the Latin American community on campus and eliminates racial and cultural preconceptions.” By breaking down preconceptions I mean all preconceptions; primarily others’ preconceptions of us, but our own preconceptions of others as well (which I believe all people have to an extent). We need to advocate for something that a professor of mine calls “cultural competency”, which is the ability to cope with, exist in, and navigate new cultures (Racism would then be an example of ‘cultural incompetency’). Once we can put aside our fears and preconceptions we can contribute original and constructive ideas as to how to better deal with these issues. Once we make the personal initiative to become ‘culturally competent’ then I believe Racism will cease to be an issue at all.
Lastly, everything I’ve said here comes from my observations, experiences, and thoughts. Having said that, my opinion will only change if someone makes me believe it should change. I encourage people to challenge my point of view, but do so in person. Voice your ideas and not your parents’, cultural organization’s, text book’s, friends’, or professor’s. It’s harder than you think.
I hope that in writing this article I was able to offer an alternative perspective on the issue of ‘racism’ on campus. As I mentioned earlier there are other ways we can regard and approach the idea of racism aside from what we have seen so far. Taking ourselves out of the equation is a crucial first step. I believe resolution will come when there begins to be more individual interaction between people of differing cultures on campus, but before we do that we must first get passed our own preconceptions and fears. I believe the cultural houses can play a major role in facilitating this kind of interaction and I hope to see this kind of transition in time to come.
Vice President of La Voz Latina