Cultural Capital

Paraphrasing a quote from Martin Luther King, “we hate each other because we fear one another. We fear one another because we don’t understand one another. We don’t understand one another because we are unwilling to sit down and talk to one another. We won’t sit down and talk to one another out of the fear that our foolish judgments may be wrong.”

Of course our foolish judgments may be wrong and in many cases they are wrong. If you understand epistemology to mean the exploration of knowledge; how are we responding to the question, how do you know that you know what you know?

As we explore a basic definition of epistemology we come to understand knowledge as a subset of what is both true and believe to be true.

Based solely on that definition we then have to pursue the sources of the information that have been provided under the auspices of truth as well as the commonly held beliefs associated with those truths. For example, if we have always been taught that a specific group of people are lazy, inferior and dishonest, and these alleged truths have been reinforced by both individuals, educational institutions and the communities in which we reside; our knowledge is locked in and we think we now know what we need to know about that group or any other group, race, gender, etc.Marcus Garvey said, “A race without knowledge of its history is like a tree without roots”. It is through learning more about ourselves and other cultures that we will come to value others, our environments, and ourselves in new and exciting ways. Books like; The Unseen Hand, The People’s History of the United States, All the Lies My Teacher Told Me and many others highlight different aspects of myth-information and misinformation of topics that have been left out or hidden away from our understanding. Certain groups have been demonized and portrayed in ways that have created hateful stereotypes causing further division among peoples.

As we enter into a shift in the political leadership of the United States, and the many examples that are being touted that exemplify that anyone can make it in America regardless of race, religion, gender, etc. it is critical that we understand the vested interest of those who omitted factual information in the first place. We need to understand that broader cultural and historical aspects are not fully being taught in our schools. We need to understand the Mental Energy Fields that have been constructed providing the power to denigrate any body, anywhere, at any time.

Cultural competence is another term that is often used and refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures and includes four components:

1. Awareness of one’s own cultural worldview,
2. Attitude towards cultural differences,
3. Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and
4. Cross-cultural Skills.

The goal of cultural competence initiatives should be to further develop an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.

Cultural capital is a sociological concept that has gained widespread popularity since it was first articulated by Pierre Bourdieu. It is the knowledge, experience and or connections one has had through the course of their life that enables them to succeed more so than someone from a less experienced background. For Bourdieu, capital acts as a social relation within a system of exchange, and the term is extended ‘to all the goods material and symbolic, without distinction, that present themselves as rare and worthy of being sought after in a particular social formation and cultural capital acts as a social relation within a system of exchange that includes the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers power AND status. Many of our young people today are stating that they now fully believe that they too could become president one day. Many believe that the Great Wall of Racism has been torn down.

The goal of Building Cultural Capital is to provide a variety of resources from notable programs and educators that are not finding their way to the media, our churches, educational institutions or other systems of exchange of knowledge. When people don’t know what they don’t know they don’t know they should do something different or ask because they don’t even know that they need to ask. We refuse to wait until the selective months of February, March, June, December to learn, honor and/or celebrate the rich diversity of culture we have in the United States. We also believe that this information needs to be explored, shared, discussed and reflected upon if we are to truly come to know that all men and women are born with certain inalienable rights and that one of those rights is access to information and the right to discuss and know of it.

We will identify some of the best, cutting edge and enlightening sources through educational materials, entertainment, games, music, art, video, blogs, many others that respect the learning styles and multiple intelligences of all people and a level of expertise that reaches far beyond simply discussions of race.

Join us as we expand and build upon our existing cultural capital.

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