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Five Ways to be More Culturally Aware

Think about your typical day. What do you see around you? Most likely, you will see people of all ages, ethnicities and cultures. People speaking different languages, dressing in different kinds of clothing, eating different kinds of food.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, our population is becoming more diverse every day. The population of all race and ethnic groups, except for the non-Hispanic white alone group, grew exponentially between 2016-2017.

And today, the Hispanic population consists of about 59 million people, the African American population about 47 million, the Asian population about 22 million, the American Indian or Alaska Native population about 7 million and the Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander population about 2 million. That’s more than 90 million people around us who have unique experiences and perspectives.

As these numbers keep growing, it’s important that we not only understand cultural differences, but embrace them.

Use these tips from the American Psychological Association to be more culturally aware:

  1. Think beyond race and ethnicity. A person’s culture is shaped by more than the color of their skin or the way that they dress. It’s shaped by the person’s life experiences and traditions, which may be seen or unseen to the naked eye.
  2. Learn by asking. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People feel respected and appreciated when others take a genuine interest in who they are, so ask open-ended questions about their culture to learn more.
  3. Make local connections. Find local organizations or venues that work with a cultural group you’re interested in and stop by. Organizations like advocacy groups, religious institutions, colleges and social clubs are a great place to learn more and make connections.
  4. Pay attention to non-verbal behaviors. Meaning behind body language can sometimes differ based on cultural norms. Pay attention to how your body language is being perceived by those around you.
  5. Exchange stories. Storytelling is a great way to share experiences that go beyond culture. Initiate an open conversation by sharing a personal story or experience.

You can also take a Mental Health First Aid course. Mental Health First Aid offers tailored courses to meet the needs of specific populations and can help you better understand your community and peers. Get trained today and #BeTheDifference for those around you.