Social Justice Usage
Source: Gallardo, Miguel E. Developing Cultural Humility: Embracing Race, Privilege and Power. SAGE, 2013, pp. 3–4.
Cultural humility has been defined as a lifelong process of self-reflection, self-critique, continual assessment of power imbalances, and the development of mutually respectful relationships and partnerships. While I value the essence of this definition, the decision to choose cultural humility was much more personal. It not only captures a value I think needs to be incorporated more in our multicultural discussions, it also stems from my familial, cultural, religious, and spiritual identifications as a Mexican American Catholic. Like several of my colleagues’ stories contained in this book, I, too, have been deeply affected by my parents and their strong (although not unquestioning) adherence to the Catholic faith. For me, humility takes on a spiritual meaning that transcends life and my relationships with others. I am reminded of Proverbs 11:2: “When pride comes, disgrace comes; but with the humble is wisdom.” It is here that I have situated my preference for terminology that not only carries symbolic meaning, but also practical implications in our future developments as critical multicultural collaborators.
New Discourses Commentary
In Social Justice, there is a prevailing attitude that people with privilege are afforded a certain kind of arrogance that allows them to ignore both other cultures and the way their privileged status creates oppression for minoritized, marginalized or otherwise non-dominant cultures, including particularly their knowledge(s) and ways of knowing (see also cultural relativism, epistemic injustice, epistemic oppression, and epistemic violence). “Cultural humility” is billed as the necessary antidote to this cultural arrogance—which is, itself, Theorized as a product of being privileged by systemic power—and is, in essence, a call for members of dominant groups to recognize these facts about themselves and to listen to members of minoritized and oppressed groups more fully (see also, shut up and listen).
The concept of cultural humility shows up mostly in justice-oriented theory and praxis for psychology, mental health, social work, medicine, and, to some extent, education (see also, critical pedagogy). The purpose there isn’t wholly a negative, as it is meant to increase the odds that professionals and practitioners will listen across cultural differences rather than missing important cues, misinterpreting them, or ignoring them. In this regard, it often shows up alongside the literature and commentary on cultural sensitivity and cultural responsiveness, which are said to require cultural humility. All of these concepts ultimately boil down to “doing the work” to understand people across cultures and not offend them. This is usually assumed to be needed by people who occupy relatively dominant and privileged social positions more than anyone else (see also, intersectionality and systemic power). This also tends to proceed through the usual means of connecting cultures to demographic identities (see also, social constructivism).
Within the kinds of cultural studies/criticism that are more commonly seen as being “Social Justice” (see also, cultural studies and ethnic studies), the concept usually takes on a more specific application under a doctrine of racial humility, which means roughly the same thing but across differences in race (see also, antiracism). Members of racial groups deemed more dominant need to cultivate racial humility and realize that members of racial groups deemed more oppressed have epistemic authority through their lived experience of oppression to understand and teach on these issues (see also, critical consciousness, epistemic oppression, epistemic injustice, hermeneutical injustice, ways of knowing, knowledge(s), kaleidoscopic consciousness, and standpoint epistemology).
A lack of cultural (and especially racial) humility is theorized to be at the center of a suite of allegedly problems suffered and created by members of dominant groups, all of which result in maintaining and perpetuating oppression for members of other groups (see also, complicity and white complicity). These include positioning oneself as a good white, engaging in white talk or other forms of colortalk, white ignorance, white innocence, white fragility, white silence, aversive racism, cultural racism, epistemic oppression, willful ignorance, active ignorance, pernicious ignorance, privilege-preserving epistemic pushback, and a considerable list of other similar ideas that boil down to white people not understanding the cultural issues at the center of race and racism because their white privilege affords them the luxury not to have to (see also, white comfort and white equilibrium) and generally failing at their antiracism work. That is, a concept that might generally have a point worth considering, engaging, and using (the ethos behind cultural humility) tends to get lost in a sea of critical problematizing.
See also, racial humility
Active ignorance; Antiracism; Aversive racism; Colortalk; Complicity; Critical; Critical consciousness; Critical pedagogy; Cultural racism; Cultural relativism; Cultural responsiveness; Cultural sensitivity; Cultural studies; Dominance; Epistemic injustice; Epistemic oppression; Epistemic violence; Ethnic studies; Good white; Hermeneutical injustice; Identity; Intersectionality; Justice; Kaleidoscopic consciousness; Knowledge(s); Lived experience; Marginalize; Minoritize; Oppression; Pernicious ignorance; Position; Praxis; Power (systemic); Privilege; Privilege-preserving epistemic pushback; Problematize; Race; Racial humility; Racism (systemic); Shut up and listen; Social constructivism; Social Justice; Standpoint epistemology; Theory; Ways of knowing; White comfort; White complicity; White equilibrium; White fragility; White innocence; White silence; White talk; Willful ignorance
Source: Gallardo, Miguel E. Developing Cultural Humility: Embracing Race, Privilege and Power. SAGE, 2013, p. 145.
Humility. The second quality is humility—to see our own flaws and limitations, to move from the therapy session to the classroom to the community agency and gracefully negotiate the changes in our power and status across those settings. We can heed Paolo Freire (1970) and approach every situation as a learner and every person we encounter as a teacher. Self-righteousness has a way of rearing its ugly head in conversations about other people’s privilege—how they don’t get it—yet privilege is multidimensional, and it is a rare person who “gets it” across all of its many dimensions. We aren’t multiculturally competent if we already know everything. If we can’t tolerate our own limitations, we’ll probably try to cover them up with passivity, or overwhelming goodness, or arrogance.
Source: Gallardo, Miguel E. Developing Cultural Humility: Embracing Race, Privilege and Power. SAGE, 2013, p. 81.
In my personal life now, I am currently working through my cultural identity related to religion and spirituality. This process is developing in a manner parallel to earlier explorations of nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity. I am examining what I was taught to believe, deconstructing those beliefs, and reconstructing them in a more inclusive manner. … Can I let go of some of my familiar views of where meaning comes from and be open to new ideas that seem foreign to me? Is this spiritual development part of my personal work to become more culturally aware? Yes, I think it is because of the way it parallels earlier forms of exploration around nationality, gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity.
Revision date: 7/8/20