Aspects of my culture are difficult to describe with any clear purpose because I consider myself a normal, Christian, heterosexual, African American woman. I am from a middle class family and have not suffered much as an adult, however the culture I identify with would be important to understand because my family is very traditional. I speak the standard dialect and wear modest clothing.
Being Christian has never caused me to be culturally very different from many others surrounding me, however a social worker may need to know that questions about some personal details of my life are very intrusive. There are certain subjects I don’t think are appropriate to talk about let alone do. Culturally aware social workers should assess the importance of Christian culture in my life, so as to keep me of an open, honest attitude rather than making me shut them out. Personally, I’m fairly open about discussion, but I know Christians who are more close-minded.
Heterosexuality is very low on the scale of cultural awareness a social worker would need to have in regards to working with me. However, my Christian believes could make me anti-alternative sexualities. Again, I’m a fairly open person, but the cultural awareness surrounding heterosexuality should not assume that openness.
Lastly, being an African American woman is likely the most significant aspect of my culture. I have definitely experienced racism at different levels throughout my life, and depending on my need and the cultural awareness of my social worker, I may be more comfortable with a person from a similar culture. It is very dependent on the situation, but empathy is very important for social workers because they need to put their clients at ease.
A culturally competent social worker will, “establish cultural norms of openness and respect for discussing situations in which insensitive or exclusionary behaviors were experienced” (Indicators for the Achievement, 2001). They must show empathy for culture despite their own culture, or else their purpose will be negated through oppressiveness.
- Indicators for the achievement of the NASW standards for cultural competence in social work practice. (2001). National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from: https://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/naswculturalstandardsindicators2006.pdf