What is 'cultural competence'?
Norman Levitt explains:
I offer the reader, with some trepidation, the formal definition as jargonistically set out by some purported educators:
Cultural competence requires that individuals and organisations:
a) Have a defined set of values and principles, demonstrated behaviours, attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively in a cross-cultural manner;
b) Demonstrate the capacity to 1) value diversity, 2) engage in self-reflection, 3) manage the dynamics of difference, 4) acquire and institutionalise cultural knowledge, and 5) adapt to the diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve;
c) Incorporate and advocate the above in all aspects of leadership, policymaking, administration, practice and service delivery while systematically involving staff, students, families, key stakeholders and communities.
If we divest this of its thick integument of happy talk and explore the details, we find that in practice it means deference, even servility, toward the norms and values espoused by fervent multiculturalists, along with tame assent to whatever measures they propose to achieve their aims. Attempts to explicate the idea occasionally slip into language that reveals the underlying political programme:
[C]ultural competence entails actively challenging the status quo and advocating for equity and social justice.
In the context of higher education, cultural competence necessitates abject refusal to articulate or defend ideas that might make certain protected groups uncomfortable. Professors can only be deemed 'culturally competent' if they openly profess the approved corpus of received values.