Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cultural Awareness 101

Federal Bureau of Investigation - December 2008 - Law Enforcement Training: Factors in the Spanish-Speaking Community You know I usually find the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin interesting. But this article, if it is really needed, points to a general lack of awareness on the part of law enforcement as to be, well, sad. The more I read, the more my jaw hung open.

News Flash re: names. Not every country treats names the way Americans and the British do. Most Spanish speaking nations at least are close to the American way, but there are differences. In India, traditionally, names change over the course of your life. Try to explain that to an American who expects you to fill in a form. "First Name, Last Name." (At least some places have changed it to "Given Name, Family Name." That still doesn't cover cultures that use "Given Name, Place of Origin" as some Arabic countries do.)

Countries versus ethnicity. Would you describe Russians and Poles as "European?" The Ukrainians and Belarus get crazy if you call them Russian. (They were part of the old Soviet Union, but they aren't Russian.)

I guess it shouldn't surprise me that cultural insensitivity is rampant in America. I just find it disturbing in one of the branches of government that has to rub up against cultural differences regularly.

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