It is the end of June and a busy time for me, but it is nothing unusual for a doctoral student trying to raise money before the semester begins again, typical. But a few days ago I received an invitation to attend a protest entitled “Where is my vote?” in honor of those who have lost their lives in Iran and a peaceful protest. My first thought was that I had other things I would rather be doing on a Sunday and I am not a protesting type of person. What I may not have realized at the time was, I didn’t know enough to feel anything either way. I am a student, a teacher, a counselor, and I was really busy with life.
Later that day I was teaching my Cross-Cultural Counseling course and I had stressed the importance of becoming a “Multiculturally Literate” counselor. What I told them in class was that “Questionable or unethical conduct is often due to a lack of multicultural literacy on the part of counselors. However, cultural ignorance should be no excuse for unethical counseling conduct. Providing services to clients of color by professionals not competent in understanding and providing services to such individuals should be considered unethical” (Lee & Diaz, 2009). I stressed the importance of reading the newspaper and exploring cultures different from our own; that it is in fact our ethical obligation to not shy away from learning more about other cultures as it may be an opportunity to learn something necessary for understanding future clients.
I did not aspire to be a math teacher or an astronomy teacher. I am a counselor educator, an individual who seeks to increase the knowledge of counselors going into the field to better serve the population seeking assistance. Regardless of my knowledge or lack of knowledge, why is that stopping me from learning more. So what if “I am not the protesting type.” Aren’t most US citizens less likely to want to get involved because they are simply ignorant to the world around them unless it has a direct effect on their own existence? I am going to the protest to support my friend and her people and to participate as a citizen of the world.
I have spent the last few days getting as much information as I can from the media, watching videos, reading posts, visiting facebook and twitter websites, and what has become painfully clear to me is that what I was afraid of was becoming more aware of what it was I am NOT DOING rather than what it is a need to DO. Now do yourself a favor and see for yourself what it is you are ignoring and do something about the feelings you have in response to what you see and hear. What are you going to do to become multiculturally literate today? As for me, on Sunday I am walking side by side with my friend and figuring out what it is I have been ignoring and most importantly why?
Jessica Diaz is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland and an Affiliate Professor at Loyola College.