Glossary of Terms

Accountability: The ways in which individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions, and acknowledge the values and groups to which they are responsible

Advantage: A leg up, a gain, a benefit

Ally: Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice.

Anti-Black Racism: Term used to describe the unique discrimination, violence and harms imposed on and impacting Black people specifically.

Anti-genocide: Standing against the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group. 

Antiracist: One who supports an antiracist policy through their actions or by expressing antiracist ideas.

Colonization: Some form of invasion, dispossession and subjugation of a people. The invasion need not be military; it can begin—or continue—as geographical intrusion in the form of agricultural, urban or industrial encroachments.

Decolonization: The active resistance against colonial powers and a shifting of power towards acquisition of Black, Indigenous, multi-racial, and people of color’s (BIMPOC) own political, economic, educational, cultural, psychic independence and power. This process occurs politically and also applies to personal and societal psychic, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression. (Columbus was not an “explorer.” He was a colonizer, rapist, and perpetrator of genocide.)

Diversity: Representation of varied identities and differences (race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, tribe, caste, socio-economic status, thinking and communication styles, etc.).

Equity: Just and fair inclusion into a society in which all, focusing on those who have been harmed and are experiencing the greatest barriers, can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. (Equity is giving a person a size 8 shoe because that is what they need. Equality is giving everyone a size 10 shoe because that is equal and fair.)

Eugenics: The “study” of arranging humans by biological and heritable characteristics that are regarded as desirable. White traits are more highly regarded than all other races.

Explicit Bias: Overt values, beliefs and actions that result in white supremacy.

Implicit Bias: Attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors informed by culture, norms, and values that are unexamined that can override intentional actions.

Inclusion: Builds a culture of belonging by actively inviting the contribution and participation of all people and by operationalizing their opinions. Inclusion shifts power within an organization and enables each member to be their authentic selves.

Internalized racism: A form of internalized oppression, defined by sociologist Karen D. Pyke as the "internalization of racial oppression by the racially subordinated.”

Intersectional: the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of oppression (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups

Justice: just behavior or treatment, particularly regarding the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges 

Oppression: The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following four conditions are found:

  • The oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others.

  • The target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them).

  • Genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going.

  • Members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.

Prejudice: A strongly held attitude based on limited information; often based on stereotypes. Informs a person’s behaviors toward people outside their own group.

Power: Ability to do or act or influence with the strength and might and/or to control or command over people.

Race: A socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people. Rooted in Eugenics. Refers to the color of one's skin. Race is weaponized and used as a tool of the divide and conquer strategy.

Racial Equity: Providing everyone what they need to be successful by taking race and the impacts of racism into account. This is distinct from racial equality, which is treating everyone the same.

Racial Justice: Racial justice is the systematic fair treatment of people of all races, where Black and other communities of color have equitable opportunities to achieve their full potential in life, regardless of race, ethnicity or the community in which they live.

Racial segregation: The systematic separation of people into racial or ethnic groups. Segregation can involve the spatial separation of the races, and mandatory use of different institutions, such as schools and transportation. Specifically, it may be applied to activities such as eating in restaurants, drinking from water fountains, using public toilets, attending schools, going to movies, riding buses, renting or purchasing homes or renting hotel rooms.

Racism: The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people. Racism occurs at the internal, interpersonal, institutional and structural levels resulting in systemic racism.

Racism = race prejudice + social and institutional power

Racism = a system of advantage based on race

Racism = a system of oppression based on race

Racism = a white supremacy (fragility) system

Racist: As defined by Ibram X. Kendi: One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or by expressing a racist idea. 

Redlining: A policy outlined in the FHA’s 1939 Underwriting Manual and practiced by the FHA through which neighborhoods were considered “risky” for investment based solely on race and ethnicity.

Stereotype: A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular group of people. Attributes and behaviors are unfairly ascribed to an entire group. 

Social and Institutional Power: Access to resources, the ability to influence others, access to decision makers to get what you want done, and the ability to define reality for yourself and others.

White privilege: Inherited and unearned societal advantages, access, and opportunities that benefit people identified as white.

White supremacy: The belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society. The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and "undeserving." Drawing from critical race theory, the term "white supremacy" also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

Credit to Buffalo Cloud Consulting for supplying many of these definitions. Additional credit to the Racial Equity Tools Glossary