Culturally Competent and Diversity-Sensitive Practice and Cultural Humility 55 and opinions about what they have read. In subsequent chapters, we return to the concepts introduced here and explore their implications for social work practice, presenting a variety of case illustrations. Understanding Clients’ Internalized Identity We suggest that instructors focus less attention on elaborating upon the various groups discussed in this chapter and more on the position that we adopt, which is that cultural competence is ongoing and never-ending. Instructors also should remind students that our descriptions of various groups should sen- sitize them to possible ways in which clients may view themselves, the worker, and their world. 1. Elicit from students their thoughts about general characterizations asso- ciated with groups with which they identify, beginning with those presented in the text. We teach diverse groups of students, and this inevitably leads to robust, sometimes tense discussions. Some students express resentment that they have been reduced to a stereotype, even when they acknowledge that they can identify with one or more of the characterizations. Others may distance themselves from the characteristics of a group with which they identify (or are identified with by others). For example, a young African American woman asked, “Why can’t blacks stop whining about slavery? That’s ancient history. They just need to get on with their lives and stop blaming white people.” A heated discussion ensued, in which other students who identified as African American or black expressed anger at the student for not standing up for “our” people. White students and other students of color seemed uncomfortable. The debate pro- vided the instructor with an unexpected but powerful teachable moment. The student who initiated the discussion—as well as her classmates—began to appreciate that her social reality included her privileged position as the daughter of two professionals who were both high-income earners. The fact that she had not experienced discrimination or oppression herself did not mean that others whose skin color was similar to hers had not experienced this. This exchange helped everyone understand how important it is for social workers to recognize that their own frame of reference is separate and distinct from those of their clients. It also underscores the importance of viewing clients as the experts in their lives. 2. Using Shevonne’s experiences working with African American adoles- cent girls, as described in the chapter, the instructor can reinforce the point that a presumed similarity between workers and clients often masks underlying differences. Shevonne and her clients were racially similar, but in almost every other way they were quite different the assumptions that each made about the
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