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"Every human is like all other humans, some other humans, and no other human."

-Clyde Kluckhon 


We are all are born belonging to a culture, which is not only influenced by traditional practices, heritage, and ancestral knowledge, but also by the experiences, values, and beliefs of individual families and communities. Culture is the fundamental building block of identity, and the development of a strong cultural identity is essential to an individual’s healthy sense of who they are and where they belong. Respecting diversity of cultures means valuing and reflecting the practices, values, and beliefs of families and communities.

Cultural Competence isn't something we're born with. It's shaped by our life experiences. So it's only natural that we miss seeing some of the differences that are right in front of us. As we move through life and encounter more differences, our mindsets expand, and we develop the skills and knowledge to navigate more complex situations more easily. 

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Cultural competence is the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural competence encompasses:

  • being aware of one’s own world view
  • developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences
  • gaining knowledge of different cultural practices and world views
  • developing skills for communication and interaction across cultures
  • fostering secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships and partnerships

Underlying cultural competence are the principles of trust, respect for diversity, equity, fairness, and social justice. Cultural competence requires more than becoming culturally aware or practicing tolerance. Rather, it is the ability to identify and challenge one’s own cultural assumptions, values, and beliefs, and to make a commitment to communicating with cultural understanding.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Do one or more of the following…

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Watch the short video Cultural Competence Continuum, from Bill Deans, adapted from a paper by Terry Cross. (3:02)



Cultural Competence starts with self-awareness. Take this Cultural Competence Self-Assessment adapted from a checklist from the Greater Vancouver Island Multicultural Society. This tool is designed to help you consider your skills, knowledge, and awareness of yourself in your interactions with others and to assist you to recognize what you can do to become more effective in working and living in a diverse environment. 

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People often wonder about the term, "cultural humility" vs "cultural competence." Read the article Cultural Competence or Cultural Humility? Moving Beyond the Debate by Ella Greene-Moton and Meredith Minkler, DrPH, MPH that discusses the origins of the terms within the health field and ultimately, recognizes that pursuing the path of "both/and" is good practice. 

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It’s relatively easy for us to experience another culture today through film, television, and social media. All this connection can inspire genuine cultural appreciation. But cultural appreciation can easily turn into cultural appropriation. Instead of honoring another culture, appropriation demeans and dishonors. See the reactions and hear the messages of young women as they come face-to-face with culturally appropriative costumes. (4:47)



For organizations or businesses looking for the “next step," consider the Intercultural Development Inventory. The assessment helps identify the mindset your team is using when making decisions that impact equity and inclusion, and helps to pinpoint the kinds of developmental activities you need to focus on to move to the next level. You’ll work with a qualified administrator to receive and interpret your results. One local option is CultureALL..


Capture what you learned by journaling your thoughts and feelings about today's content. Click below to download a free journal page for today.

Journal Page


If you are participating in the Challenge as part of a group, download this free discussion guide to help facilitate discussion.

Journal Page






CONVERSATION PIECE: Art Addressing Equity

Day 5 - Hola Iowa

Artist: Jovenes Embajadores

Title: Folkloric Dance

Date of piece: August 2018

Link: Facebook Video

“The youth folkloric group with colorful dresses represent the color and vibrancy of the Latino Community. Although the dance is from Mexico, the colors still represent the 22 Latin American Countries in a colorful traditional form.”

Joe Gonzalez
Latino Heritage Festival

Thank you to the members of BRAVO Greater Des Moines for curating the Equity Challenge Gallery, a collection of art in various media that speaks to the issues of equity in our society.

BRAVO Greater Des Moines