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Office of Equity, Social Justice and
Multicultural Education

What is Cultural Humility?

Cultural Humility as a Conceptual Framework for Enhancing Equity Work

Cultural humility is part of the guiding philosophy and approach of the Equity Office for engendering equity, social justice and multicultural education at De Anza College. Diversity alone does not result in equity or inclusion.

What is Cultural Humility?

Cultural humility is a lifelong process of self-reflection, self-critique and commitment to understanding and respecting different points of view, and engaging with others humbly, authentically and from a place of learning (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998). Tervalon and Murray-Garcia developed this concept while addressing disparities and institutional inequities in the field of public healthcare.

Cultural humility is a unique framework for moving us toward equity. It is a philosophy that addresses the role of power and privilege in a system, as well as the imbalanced power of voice and power to make decisions (i.e., the power over and the power to). Moreover, it is critical to ensure campus commitment and consistency. Understanding institutional, interpersonal and internalized oppression is also an essential and ongoing aspect to this approach to organizational transformation. 

Cultural humility upholds each individual or community group as the experts and teachers on the content of their personal culture. Thus, creating time and space for sharing personal stories, worldviews, approaches to trust building, team building, and community dynamics should become part of the day-to-day strategy for inclusion and our campus community development.

Cultural humility asks that we meet each person where he or she is by suspending judgment and resisting the need to impose personal values, beliefs, “truths,” and notions of right and wrong. By doing so, we reduce the harm of prejudice and oppression and open opportunities for equity. Meeting each person where he or she is, challenging and naming assumptions and biases, sharing the hidden rules of success, and redefining the cultural norms of an organization are part of deepening individual and campus cultural humility.

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

                         – Helen Keller, writer, lecturer and political activist, 1880-1968





Equity Office
Building:  ADM 105
Contact: Veronica Neal
Phone: 408.864.5338
Email:
nealveronica@deanza.edu

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Last Updated: 3/16/12