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Race and Cultural Competence: Home

About This Guide


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This guide was compiled by the Bakersfield College Library, with input from staff from across campus.  These resources reflect a variety of perspectives on racial equity and cultural competence. They are intended to be the basis for the campus "Learning Together" project, in addition to providing sources for personal reflection and action in Bakersfield College's efforts to improve racial equity.    

Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.

The word culture is used because it implies the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group. The word competence is used because it implies having the capacity to function effectively.

Five essential elements contribute to a system's institution's, or agency's ability to become more culturally competent which include:

  1. Valuing diversity
  2. Having the capacity for cultural self-assessment
  3. Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact
  4. Having institutionalized culture knowledge
  5. Having developed adaptations to service delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity

These five elements should be manifested at every level of an organization including policy making, administrative, and practice. Further, these elements should be reflected in the attitudes, structures, policies and services of the organization.

(Cross et al., 1989, from the Curricula Enhancement Module Series, National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University)