June 10, 2007

The tendency to overemphasize cultural and ethnical differences

"I think too many people talk about culture/ethnicity as being a bigger difference than is necessary." This is what Insoo Kim Berg said in 2003 in this interview with Victor Yalom when asked about how to apply solution-focused techniques in different cultures. She further said: "I have a lot of gripes about the way that cultural differences are talked about in this country. My main gripe has to do with emphasizing the differences between cultures—what is different between you and me, instead of talking about what is similar between you and me. That we are all human beings with the same aspirations, same needs, same goals. When I look at those things, it's very easy to translate [solution-focused techniques, CV]. It's the same everywhere you go. Everyone wants to be accepted, validated, supported, loved, and to belong to a community. That's not different at all, no matter where you go. It's a different way of belonging to the group, but that's a small difference. But even among the same culture, like among the white middle class, there's so many variations. Just because you went to college and I went to college doesn't mean we came from the same kind of families. Even some Jewish families, some Korean families are so different. So I think too many people talk about culture/ethnicity as being a bigger difference than is necessary. I feel very comfortable no matter what culture I go. I just look at you as another human being rather than I am this group and you are that group. I think it's very divisive. So that's my main gripe. People ask me, "Aren't you feeling discriminated against because you're Asian, and a woman?" I think "so what?" Some people get discriminated against for being too short, too tall, too blond. So what? It's not that different from any of those things. I don't really pay attention to that."

I think she's right.

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