In the new year, resolve to improve your Cultural Intelligence

In the new year, resolve to improve your Cultural Intelligence December 30, 2020

“Cultural intelligence” – the capability to relate and work effectively across cultures – is something that every white, privileged person needs to work on to help make this world a better place.

If you know how to read, or how to listen to people talking, you can be part of the solution to the urgent problems of inequality, injustice, and racism.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to understand the people around you better by improving your cultural intelligence, one page at a time.

I started doing this early in my journey of self-awareness by gifting myself with a subscription to (an endorsement for which I don’t get paid). I now have a library of nearly 200 books, most of them chosen to help me improve my cultural intelligence. Many of them I’ve listened to 3 times or more. They’ve informed me profoundly and changed who I am on a deep level. (I talk a lot about this in Grace-Colored Glasses. Get my newsletter?)

I say this in all humility, because I wish I’d learned these things decades ago. As a white Christian, I lacked compassion for people of other cultures for most of my life. That is not cool and not Christlike.

Without going into too much detail, cultural intelligence, according to David Livermore, has to do with motivation to experience cultural diversity, learning about different cultures (and being self-aware of one’s own culture), and eventually becoming adept in multicultural encounters.

Of course, choosing to learn does not obligate you to seek out multicultural experiences – but it might motivate you to stretch your comfort zone. (You know what they say about comfort zones: once they stretch, they never return to their original shape.)

(PS don’t play that game with yourself – the one where you say “I fall asleep when I try to read, so I’ll just be nice to my neighbors. That will be my contribution to making the world better.” You’re going to be nice to your neighbors anyway. You can stay awake and learn. Or listen to a book while you walk, drive, go for a bike ride, do housework, etc. No excuses.)

Do I have to?

If you are white, but don’t think you’re privileged, that’s a good starting place. Challenge that assumption by reading a book about white privilege. Maybe you’re right, and maybe you’re…about to grow (see how I didn’t use the word “wr%ng”?).

Here are a few titles I recommend to get the ball rolling:

For a crash course in American history as it really happened (not the whitewashed version we learned in school), you must read:

For more on modern racism, try one of these:

For the history of racism (everyone should read at least one of these), I recommend:

For a Christian perspective on race and white privilege (including history), check out one (or more) of these:

How about gun control? These are excellent, and may surprise you:

Here is an eye-opening book about poverty and homelessness (hint: it’s not about laziness):

Want to find out about Native American history? This is the best out there:

How about a radically different culture? These are just two of many books that will humanize “others”:

Which book will you read first in 2021?

Do you have a book to recommend to me? Please leave it in the comments! And happy New Year!

FEATURED IMAGE: “Reading Book Study Student –” by ThoroughlyReviewed is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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