Ways of teaching cultural competency to jurors
A critical reflection on cultural assumptions is necessary in forming a culturally responsive learning strategy. From this perspective, jurors are taught to reflect on cultural assumptions that lead to stereotyping and widely accepted misconceptions. Culturally-responsive teaching is critical in instilling self-awareness among the jurors. In this regard, jurors are able to identify any cause of cultural misunderstanding.
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Consequently, a sense of respect and acceptance of cultural diversity is achieved among the jurors. Culturally-responsive teaching activity such as diverse instructional groups is essential in eliminating individual differences (Sleeter, 2013).
An inter-cultural communication method is another important aspect of culturally competent teaching. This method acknowledges that each juror has a unique cultural value. This can be evidenced from the diversity of traditions, norms and learning behaviors. From this perspective, mutual respect among jurors is achieved amicably.
A teaching methodology that positions the learner as the subject of learning is an effective teaching component. In this context, jurors are perceived to be the learning subjects. From this perspective, jurors’ compassion, integrity and respect of others is accommodated and influenced to meet required standards.
The effective means to influencing a learner are through accommodative strategies such as extra learning lessons or verbal discussions between teacher and learner. Active listening is also an important teaching competent for culturally competent instructors. This strategy is effective for critical reflection among jurors who speak different languages.
Intentionally structured environments are essential in harnessing perspective-taking behaviors among the jurors. This strategy involves the formation of intentional group of students from diverse racial backgrounds with an intention of accruing positive beliefs and values form each other.
In this regard, an effective culturally competent teaching for jurors embraces the need to understanding other peoples’ worldview and personal beliefs.
Ways that could have broken the barrier between Juror B37 and Rachel Jeantel
The barriers between Juror B37 and Rachel Jeantel were evident during George Zimmerman trial (Lawrence-Brown & Sapon-Shevin, 2013). Cultural competency in Juror B37 would have been significant in understanding the awareness of cultural worldview of two opposing racial backgrounds. Juror B37 is a white female while Rachel Jeantel is a black woman from an African-American neighborhood.
Apparently, Juror B37 personal view on Rachel Jeantel is that she is not an adequate witness. Perhaps her perception is shaped by the fact that most African-Americans are inadequately educated. Moreover, Juror B37 opinion is shaped by historical stereotyping of black people who visit white-dominated neighborhoods. Black people are perceived as thugs, especially if they do not reside or visit such neighborhoods regularly.
On the other hand, Rachel Jeantel does not agree with the juror’s description of a thug. This controversy raises the concern of cultural competency among jurors.
From the George Zimmerman’s case, cultural competency in Juror B37 would have been integral in understanding cultural worldview of black Americans’ description of a thug. The juror’s worldview would not have stereotyped black Americans in a manner that is racially discriminative.
Cultural competency in Juror B37 would have eliminated the cultural differences exhibited between the juror and the witness. There are African-Americans who perceive effective communication skills as a preserve of the white people. This explains why some black Americans think that Rachel Jeantel was inadequate as a prosecution witness.
Rachel emerges as an individual with inadequate communication skills due to her inadequate education. Juror B37 takes advantage of this fact to assert her opinion about the witness.
This shows prejudice and lack of competence in a profession that requires acknowledgment and accommodation of diverse cultural norms, knowledge and values. If Juror B37 were culturally competent, she would have been a keen listener and understood every word and worldview of Rachel Jeantel.
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Competency in cross-cultural communication skills by Juror B37 would have been critical in understanding the witness manner of talking. Perhaps this cultural competency would have influenced the juror’s opinion about the witness and the case verdict.
An effective cultural competency strategy to address barriers between Juror B37 and Rachel Jeantel would have been through an intentional thought process. This ensures that communication strategies between the jurors and the witnesses are conscious of diversity among the present.
An intentional thought process would instill accountability among the jurors and provide significant time for a credible judgment. Moreover, culturally competency is critical in confronting stereotyping by both the juror and witness. Eventually, this cultural competency strategy promotes a fair and accurate judicial process.
Cultural competency and its current status in New York
Cultural competency is the ability of people engaging with each other irrespective of their cultural and socio-economic status (Le Roux, 2002). Cultural competency is an integral requirement for people engaging in their capacity as business employees, government employees, employers or lawyers. It is a requirement for a culturally competent individual to be self-aware of own cultural perception.
Awareness of other cultures and knowledge of the existing cultural worldviews is integral in cultural competency. In order to develop cultural competency, one is required to acquire cross-cultural skills. Moreover, cross-cultural skills are determined by competency in understanding and communicating with individual from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Cultural competency in New York City by the year 2013 is taking new shape with a new senate bill advocating for cultural awareness. The New York senate bill S793-2013 is now targeting cultural competence among medical professionals in New York City. Considering that New York City is a large metropolitan city habited by people from diverse cultures, cultural awareness is critical in the public service sector.
In this regard, medical professionals now use cultural competency as a requirement during the licensing procedure. Registered nurses and dentists are now required to undergo a training program in cultural competency. Promotion of cultural acceptance among New York citizens is now a priority.
The New York administration has now established a strategic plan that seeks to promote child welfare and juvenile justice through cultural competency. The strategic plan operating between 2011 and 2013 seeks to use culture support in developing staff members from diverse cultural backgrounds.
The staff members will be significant in developing cultural values among the children as a preparation to stable adulthood. The Administration for Children Services (ACS) is developing a taskforce that focus on promoting racial equity in delivering its services to New York people.
From this perspective, children and families of color can now access services expecting equal outcomes like other ethnic communities. Cultural competency is promoted by ACS staff members through community partnering, training and capacity building. New York City administration through ACS is promoting juvenile justice by acknowledging custom and cultures associated with corporal punishment of children.
As indicated earlier, the diversity of New York City population is now using cultural competency as a healthcare reform strategy (Betancourt, Green, Carrillo & Park, 2005). This reform strategy is consistent with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The federal patient care protection evaluates the patient’s needs, cultural values and practices when administering healthcare services.
In this regard, a patient is not denied or compelled to agree on healthcare services that are against a personal and cultural beliefs. On the other hand, the New York state healthcare reform strategy seeks to respect Affordable Care Act (ACA) by ensuring people access healthcare irrespective of their cultural and socio-economic status.
The existence of the New York State Psychiatric Institute-Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence (NYSPI-CECC) is a new development to promote cultural competence. NYSPI-CECC ensures there is cultural and linguistic competence in institutions and professionals offering mental health services.
During the year 2013, an improved quality of healthcare services among the minority and poor communities in New York City has been evidenced.
Cultural competency and its current status in New York
Cultural competency can positively impact citizen participation by providing equal opportunity to private individuals and minority communities in decision-making processes (Irvin & Stansbury, 2004). Cultural competency offers a democratic space for minority ethnic groups to discuss and create awareness of their welfare.
Through cultural competence, dominating cultures have a chance to learn and understand other cultures and create inter-cultural relationships. Moreover, an aspect of co-operation and trust between cultures is harnessed through citizen participation policy. Cultural competency compliments citizen participation through publicity techniques and education.
For example, providing public education to learners from diverse cultures promotes cultural competency and involves citizen participation. Public partnership and interaction through information sharing and decision making are citizen participation strategies that promote elements of cultural competence.
Involvement of the public management of natural resources in the community is a collective responsibility. In this regard, people participate in managing and preserving natural resources that are beneficial to everyone.
How jurors can be taught on becoming culturally competent during a trial
It is important for the juror to understand the contentious issues in a legal case. In this regard, understanding cultural and legal components that affect the case is critical. Therefore, the juror is required to research on cultural perceptions and traditional practices of the present racial and cultural elements in the case.
In additional, the juror can determine the psychological factors that may influence a judge, juror or a lawyer’s verdict on the case. This requires interaction with individuals who represent the cultural and racial elements present in the case.
Secondly, understanding of the legal perspectives of diversity in the legal profession should be preceded by some rationales. A democratic rationale involves a diverse bar component that promotes trust in enforcing the rule of law.
A business rationale entails the presence of culturally diverse lawyers to deliver clients expectations. A leadership rationale promotes professionalism, inclusiveness and citizen participation. Finally, a demographic rationale is sensitive to diversity and needs of a nation’s racial or ethnic populations.
Understanding the scientific perspective of cultural competency by a juror requires learning the psychological aspect of justice and law (Weng, 2004). From this perspective, learning cognitive theories and factors that contribute to stereotyping and biases is vital in avoiding the same. Finally, jurors are required to learn cultural competency goals from a legal perspective, and how to transform the same theory to practice.
In addition, a juror must understand personal attitude against a defendant’s culture. The juror must overcome stereotyping and prejudice against another individual’s cultural practices. Understanding of the defendant’s cultural practices and beliefs should be reflected in the judgment. Finally, learning various communication skills and strategies that foster cross-cultural communication is recommended.
Betancourt, J. R., Green, A. R., Carrillo, J. E., & Park, E. R. (2005). Cultural competence and health care disparities: key perspectives and trends. Health Affairs, 24(2), 499-505.
Irvin, R. A., & Stansbury, J. (2004). Citizen participation in decision making: is it worth the effort?. Public administration review, 64(1), 55-65.
Lawrence-Brown, D., & Sapon-Shevin, M. (2013). Condition Critical: Key Principles for Equitable and Inclusive Education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Le Roux, J. (2002). Effective educators are culturally competent communicators. Intercultural Education, 13(1), 37-48.
Sleeter, C. (2013). Teaching for Social Justice in Multicultural Classrooms. Multicultural Education Review, 5(2).
Weng, C. (2004). Multicultural Lawyering: Teaching Psychology to Develop Cultural Self-Awareness. Clinical L. Rev., 11, 369.