Glossary of Terms: Race, Equity and Social Justice

NOTE: This glossary is a tool for understanding expressions used in public discourse and does not necessarily reflect the views/opinions of ICMA membership, staff, or leadership.

Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | H | I | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | W | X

 

Term Definition

A (index)

Ableism

Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental and/or emotional ability; usually that of able‐bodied/minded persons against people with illness, disabilities, or less developed skills


 

Accountability

 

Refers to 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. Accountability requires some sense of urgency and becoming a true stakeholder in the outcome. Accountability can be externally imposed or internally applied.

To be accountable, one must be visible, with a transparent agenda and process. Invisibility defies examination; it is, in fact, employed in order to avoid detection and examination. Accountability demands commitment. It might be defined as “what kicks in when convenience runs out.” Accountability can be externally imposed (legal or organizational requirements), or internally applied (moral, relational, faith-based, or recognized as some combination thereof) on a continuum from the institutional and organizational level to the individual level. From a relational point of view, accountability is not about doing it right; sometimes it’s really about what happens after it’s done wrong.



 

Active Racism

 

Actions which have as their stated or explicit goal the maintenance of the system of racism and the oppression of those in targeted racial groups.


 

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, understanding that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those which they may benefit from in concrete ways.

Allies commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in oppression of those groups and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.


 

Anglocentrism

Centered on or considered in terms of either England/Britain, or the English language. People who are Anglocentric may not see that language creates and carries culturally specific perspectives/world views and may assume that the world views produced through English are universal.


 

Anti‐Semitism

The fear, hatred, or disparagement of Jews, Judaism, Jewish culture and related symbols.


 

Anti-Black

The Council for Democratizing Education defines anti-Blackness as being a two-part formation that both voids Blackness of value, while systematically marginalizing Black people and their issues.

The first form of anti-Blackness is overt racism. Beneath this anti-Black racism is the covert structural and systemic racism which categorically predetermines the socioeconomic status of Blacks in this country. The structure is held in place by anti-Black policies, institutions, and ideologies.

The second form of anti-Blackness is the unethical disregard for Black institutions and policies. This disregard is the product of class, race, and/or gender privilege certain individuals experience due to anti-Black institutions and policies. This form of anti-Blackness is protected by the first form of overt racism.



 

Anti-Oppression

Strategies, theories, and actions that challenge social and historical inequalities and injustices that are systemic to our systems and institutions by policies and practices that allow certain groups to dominate other groups.


 

Anti-Racism

The active process of identifying and challenging racism, by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices, and attitudes, to redistribute power in an equitable manner.


 

Anti-Racist

An anti-racist is one supporting antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression or ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity.


 

Appropriation

The claiming of rights to language, subject matter, and authority that are outside one's personal experience. The term also refers to the process by which members of relatively privileged groups co-opt cultural elements of marginalized groups-- abstracting cultural practices or artifacts from their historically specific contexts.


 

Assimilation

The full adoption by an individual or group of the culture, values, and patterns of a different social, religious, linguistic or national ethos, resulting in the diminution or elimination of attitudinal and behavioral affiliations from the original cultural group.


 

Assimilationist

One who is expressing the racist idea that a racial group is culturally or behaviorally inferior and is supporting cultural or behavioral enrichment programs to develop that racial group so that its members' cultural and behavioral expressions are in conformity with that of the allegedly superior group.


 

B (index)
 

A slang term for a white woman who is ignorant of both her privilege and her prejudice. (The male version is called a Chad).


 

Bias

A subjective opinion, preference, prejudice, or inclination, often formed without reasonable justification, that influences the ability of an individual or group to evaluate a situation objectively or accurately.


 

Bigotry

Intolerant prejudice that glorifies one's own group and denigrates members of other groups.


 

Binary Thinking/Binarism

Conceiving or conceptualizing only in terms of oppositions, "either-or"; a form of denial or resistance (winner/loser).


 

Biphobia

The fear or hatred of persons perceived to be bisexual.


 

BIPOC An acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

 

Black Lives Matter (Concept) The ideology that seeks to affirm and assert the value of Black lives, seeking equal treatment and justice for Black people, not to the exclusion of such for people of other races, but in response to the systematic absence or denial of equal treatment and justice for Black people across institutions and policies.

 

Black Lives Matter (Movement)

A political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: In 2013, three radical Black organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometiï — created a Black-centered political will- and movement-building project called #BlackLivesMatter in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. Black Lives Matter members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black people’s humanity, their contributions to [this] society, and their resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”


 

C (index)

Caucusing (Affinity Groups)

White people and people of color each have work to do separately and together when seeking to address and correct racism. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups.

For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege, and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than relying on people of color to teach them (as often occurs in integrated spaces). For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with their peers on their experiences of internalized racism, for healing and to work on liberation.


 

Civil Disobedience The nonviolent refusal to obey certain laws as an act of political protest.

 

Civil Unrest Defined by law enforcement as a gathering of three or more people, in reaction to an event, with the intention of causing a public disturbance in violation of the law. Civil unrest typically involves damage to property or injury to other people. Peaceful demonstrations and protests that abide by the law do not constitute civil unrest.

 

Classism

The cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign value to people according to their socio-economic status. Classism also refers to the systematic oppression of poor and working-class people by those who control resources.

Also: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in socio‐economic status, income, class; usually by upper classes against lower classes.


 

Collusion

Thinking and acting in ways which support the system of racism. Both Whites and People of Color can collude with racism through their attitudes, beliefs and actions.

When people act to perpetuate oppression or prevent others from working to eliminate oppression. Example: Able-bodied people who object to strategies for making buildings accessible because of the expense.


 

Colonization

Colonization can be defined as 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. The result of such incursion is the dispossession of vast amounts of lands from the original inhabitants. This is often legalized after the fact. The long-term result of such massive dispossession is institutionalized inequality.

The colonizer/colonized relationship is by nature an unequal one that benefits the colonizer at the expense of the colonized.

Ongoing and legacy Colonialism impact power relations in most of the world today. For example, white supremacy as a philosophy was developed largely to justify European colonial exploitation of the Global South (including enslaving African peoples, extracting resources from much of Asia and Latin America, and enshrining cultural norms of whiteness as desirable both in colonizing and colonizer nations). See also: Decolonization.


 

Colorblind Racism The belief that people should be regarded and treated as equally as possible, without regard to race or ethnicity. While a color-blind racial ideology may seem to be a pathway to achieve equity, in reality, it invalidates the importance of peoples' culture and ignores the manifestations of racist policies which preserve the ongoing processes that maintain racial and ethnic stratification in social institutions.

 

Color-Blindness/Color Evasion The insistence that one does not notice/see skin color or race.

 

Colorism The allocation of privilege and favor to lighter skin colors and disadvantage to darker skin colors. Colorism operates both within and across racial and ethnic groups.

 

Critical Consciousness Learning to perceive social, political, and economic contradictions and to take actions against the oppressive elements of reality.

 

Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory recognizes that racism is ingrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture.

The Critical Race Theory movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step by step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism and principles of constitutional law. 


 

Cultural Appropriation Theft of cultural elements for one's own use, commodification, or profit — including symbols, art, language, customs, etc. — often without understanding, acknowledgement, or respect for its value in the original culture. Results from the assumption of a dominant (i.e. white) culture's right to take other cultural elements.

 

Cultural Competence The ability to understand, appreciate and interact with people from cultures or belief systems different from one's own.

 

Cultural Humility An interpersonal stance that is open to individuals and communities of varying cultures, in relation to aspects of the cultural identity most important to the person. Cultural humility can include a life-long commitment to self-critique about differences in culture and a commitment to be aware of and actively mitigate power imbalances between cultures.

 

Cultural Misappropriation

Cultural misappropriation distinguishes itself from the neutrality of cultural exchange, appreciation, and appropriation because of the instance of colonialism and capitalism; cultural misappropriation occurs when a cultural fixture of a marginalized culture/community is copied, mimicked, or recreated by the dominant culture against the will of the original community and, above all else, commodified. One can understand the use of "misappropriation" as a distinguishing tool because it assumes that there are:

  1. Instances of neutral appropriation,
  2. The specifically referenced instance is non-neutral and problematic, even if benevolent in intention,
  3. Some act of theft or dishonest attribution has taken place, and
  4. Moral judgement of the act of appropriation is subjective to the specific culture from which is being engaged.

 

Cultural Racism

Cultural racism refers to representations, messages and stories conveying the idea that behaviors and values associated with white people or "whiteness" are automatically "better" or more "normal" than those associated with other racially defined groups. Cultural racism shows up in advertising, movies, history books, definitions of patriotism, and in policies and laws. Cultural racism is also a powerful force in maintaining systems of internalized supremacy and internalized racism, which it does by influencing collective beliefs about what constitutes appropriate behavior, what is seen as beautiful, and the value placed on various forms of expression.

All of these cultural norms and values have explicitly or implicitly racialized ideals and assumptions (for example, what “nude” means as a color, which facial features and body types are considered beautiful, which child-rearing practices are considered appropriate.)

Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label People of Color as “other,” different, less than, or render them invisible.


 

Cultural Representations Popular stereotypes, images, frames and narratives that are socialized and reinforced by media, language and other forms of mass communication.

 

Cultural White Privilege A set of dominant cultural assumptions about what is good, normal or appropriate that reflects Western European white world views and dismisses or demonizes other world views.

 

Culture

The shared patterns of language, behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization.

A social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of people to assure its adaptation and survival. These groups are distinguished by a set of unspoken rules that shape values, beliefs, habits, patterns of thinking, behaviors and styles of communication.


 

D (index)

Damage Imagery

Perpetuating stereotypes through the use of visuals, text/narratives, or data (e.g. statistics) to highlight inequities without the appropriate historical and sociopolitical context.


 

Decolonization

The meaningful and active resistance to the forces of colonialism that perpetuate the subjugation and/or exploitation of minds, bodies, and lands. Decolonization may be defined as the active resistance against colonial powers, and a shifting of power towards political, economic, educational, cultural, psychic independence and power that originate from a colonized nation's own indigenous culture. This process occurs politically and also applies to personal and societal psychic, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression.

Per Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang: “Decolonization doesn’t have a synonym”; it is not a substitute for ‘human rights’ or ‘social justice’, though undoubtedly, they are connected in various ways. Decolonization demands an indigenous framework and a centering of indigenous land, indigenous sovereignty, and indigenous ways of thinking.


 

Deculturalization The process by which indigenous people and people of color have been stripped of their language and culture through intentional schooling practices designed to enforce White supremacy.

 

Defund the Police

Reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other (more proactive) government agencies funded by the local municipality — to crucial and oft-neglected areas like education, public health, housing, and youth services. It also includes de-militarizing the police.

Defunding the police is separate and distinct from abolishing the police.


 

Diaspora

Diaspora is "the voluntary or forcible movement of peoples from their homelands into new regions...a common element in all forms of diaspora; these are people who live outside their natal (or imagined natal) territories and recognize that their traditional homelands are reflected deeply in the languages they speak, religions they adopt, and the cultures they produce.

The term "diaspora" also refers to those individuals from a specific group that have been moved from their homelands, i.e. African Diaspora, Jewish Diaspora, etc.


 

Disaggregated Data Disaggregating data means breaking down information into smaller subpopulations. For instance, breaking data down into racial/ethnic categories.

 

Discrimination

Actions based on conscious or unconscious prejudice that favor one group over others in the provision of goods, services or opportunities. The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, and/or other categories.

In the United States, the law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants' and employees' sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.


 

Diversity

Includes all the ways in which people differ and encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued.

A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term "diversity" is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.

It is important to note that many activists and thinkers critique diversity alone as a strategy. For instance, Baltimore Racial Justice Action states: “Diversity is silent on the subject of equity. In an anti-oppression context, therefore, the issue is not diversity, but rather equity. Often when people talk about diversity, they are thinking only of the “non-dominant” groups.”


 

Dominant Group Not necessarily the majority, but the group within a society with the power, privilege, and social status to control and define societal resources and social, political, and economic systems and norms.

 

E (index)

Equity

The effort to treat everyone the same or to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities.


 

Ethnicity

The social characteristics that people may have in common, such as language, religion, regional background, culture, foods, etc.

A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base.

Examples of different ethnic groups are: Cape Verdean, Haitian, African American (Black); Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese (Asian); Cherokee, Mohawk, Navaho (Native American); Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican (Latino); Polish, Irish, and Swedish (White).



 

Ethnocentrism Ethnocentrism is characterized by or based on the attitude that one's own group is superior.

 

H (index)

Hate Crime

A crime motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation of the victim.


 

Heterosexism Viewing the world only in heterosexual terms, thus denigrating other sexual orientations.

 

Historical Trauma The cumulative emotional and psychological wounds that can be carried across generations as a result of experiences shared by communities such as genocide, slavery, forced relocation, and destruction of cultural practices.

 

Homophobia The fear or hatred of homosexuality (and other non-heterosexual identities) and persons perceived to have these identities.

 

Horizontal Prejudice The result of people of targeted racial groups believing, acting on, or enforcing the dominant (White) system of racial discrimination and oppression. Horizontal racism can occur between members of the same racial group, or between members of different targeted racial groups.

 

Hypodescent The social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power.

 

I (index)

Implicit Bias

A mental process that stimulates negative attitudes about people who are not members of one's own group which leads to discrimination.

Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.


 

In‐Group Bias The tendency for groups to "favor" themselves by rewarding group members economically, socially, psychologically and emotionally in order to uplift one group over another.

 

Inclusion Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power.

 

Indigeneity

Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country wholly or partially at the time when persons of a different culture or ethnic origin arrived there from other parts of the world, overcame them by conquest, settlement or other means, and reduced them to a non-dominant or colonial condition; who today live more in conformity with their particular social, economic and cultural customs and traditions than with the institutions of the country of which they now form part, under a state structure which incorporates mainly national, social and cultural characteristics of other segments of the population which are predominant.

Example: Maori in territory now defined as New Zealand; Mexicans in territory now defined as Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma; Native American tribes in territory now defined as the United States.



 

Individual Racism

Individual racism includes face-to-face or covert actions that intentionally express prejudice, hate or bias based on race.

Examples: Telling a racist joke, using a racial epithet, or believing in the inherent superiority of whites over other groups; avoiding people of color whom you do not know personally, but not whites whom you do not know personally (e.g., white people crossing the street to avoid a group of Latino/a young people; locking their doors when they see African American families sitting on their doorsteps in a city neighborhood; or not hiring a person of color because “something doesn’t feel right”); accepting things as they are (a form of collusion).


 

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers to the policies and practices within and across institutions that, intentionally or not, produce outcomes that chronically favor one racial group and/or put a racial group at a disadvantage. Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.

Examples: Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as "red-lining").
City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.


 

Institutional White Privilege Policies, practices and behaviors of institutions--such as schools, banks, non-profits or the Supreme Court--that have the effect of maintaining or increasing accumulated advantages for those groups currently defined as white, and maintaining or increasing disadvantages for those racial or ethnic groups not defined as white.

 

Internalized Racism

The result of people of targeted racial groups believing, acting on, or enforcing the dominant system of beliefs about themselves and members of their own racial group.

Internalized racism is the phenomenon that occurs in a racist system when a racial group oppressed by racism supports the supremacy and dominance of the dominating group by maintaining or participating in the set of attitudes, behaviors, social structures and ideologies that undergird the dominating group's power. It involves four essential and interconnected elements:

  • Decision-making - Due to racism, people of color do not have the ultimate decision-making power over the decisions that control their lives and resources. As a result, on a personal level, they may think white people know more about what needs to be done for them than they do. On an interpersonal level, they may not support each other's authority and power - especially if it is in opposition to the dominating racial group. Structurally, there is a system in place that rewards people of color who support white supremacy and power and coerces or punishes those who do not.
  • Resources - Resources, broadly defined (e.g. money, time, etc), are unequally in the hands and under the control of white people. Internalized racism is the system in place that makes it difficult for people of color to get access to resources for their own communities and to control the resources of their community. They learn to believe that serving and using resources for ourselves and their particular community is not serving "everybody."
  • Standards - With internalized racism, the standards for what is appropriate or "normal" that people of color accept are "white" or Eurocentric standards. They have difficulty naming, communicating and living up to their deepest standards and values, and holding themselves and each other accountable to them.
  • Naming the problem - There is a system in place that misnames the problem of racism as a problem of or caused by people of color and blames the disease - emotional, economic, political, etc. - on people of color. With internalized racism, people of color might, for example, believe they are more violent than white people and not consider state-sanctioned political violence or the hidden or privatized violence of white people and the systems they put in place and support.

     

Interpersonal White Privilege Behavior between people that consciously or unconsciously reflects white superiority or entitlement.

 

Intersectionality

Exposing [one's] multiple identities can help clarify the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For example, a Black woman in America does not experience gender inequalities in exactly the same way as a white woman, nor racial oppression identical to that experienced by a Black man. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life.

Per Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, "Intersectionality is simply a prism to see the interactive effects of various forms of discrimination and disempowerment. It looks at the way that racism, many times, interacts with patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia — seeing that the overlapping vulnerabilities created by these systems actually create specific kinds of challenges. “Intersectionality 102,” then, is to say that these distinct problems create challenges for movements that are only organized around these problems as separate and individual. So when racial justice doesn’t have a critique of patriarchy and homophobia, the particular way that racism is experienced and exacerbated by heterosexism, classism etc., falls outside of our political organizing. It means that significant numbers of people in our communities aren’t being served by social justice frames because they don’t address the particular ways that they’re experiencing discrimination."


 

Islamophobia The fear, hatred, or disparagement of Muslims, Islam, Islamic culture, and related symbols.

 

K (index)

Karen

Slang for a white woman who is extremely aware of her privilege and weaponizes it. (The male version is called a Ken.)


 

L (index)

LGBTQ

LGBTQ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning. These terms are used to describe a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

An extended variant on this acronym is LGBTQIA+, which includes I for intersex and A for asexual, with a + designation to acknowledge the existence of others whose identities reside outside of the indicated groups.


 

M (index)

Marginalized

Excluded, ignored, or relegated to the outer edge of a group/society/community.


 

Microaggression Everyday insults, indignities, and demeaning messages sent to historically marginalized groups by well-intentioned members of the majority group who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent.

 

Model Minority

A term created by sociologist William Peterson to describe the Japanese community, whom he saw as being able to overcome oppression because of their cultural values. In practice, this concept has been expanded to apply to other Asian communities.

While individuals employing the Model Minority trope may think they are being complimentary, in fact the term is related to colorism and its root, anti-Blackness. The model minority myth creates an understanding of ethnic groups, including Asian Americans, as a monolith, or as a mass whose parts cannot be distinguished from each other. The model minority myth can be understood as a tool that white supremacy uses to pit people of color against each other in order to protect its status.


 

Movement Building

Movement building is the effort of social change agents to engage power holders and the broader society in addressing a systemic problem or injustice while promoting an alternative vision or solution. Movement building requires a range of intersecting approaches through a set of distinct stages over a long-term period of time.

Through movement building, organizers can:

  • Propose solutions to the root causes of social problems; 
  • Enable people to exercise their collective power; 
  • Humanize groups that have been denied basic human rights and improve conditions for the groups affected; 
  • Create structural change by building something larger than a particular organization or campaign; and 
  • Promote visions and values for society based on fairness, justice and democracy

 

Multicultural Competency A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.

 

N (index)

National Values

Behaviors and characteristics that members of a society/country are taught to value.


 

O (index)

Oppression

Oppression is both the unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power and the effects of domination so attained. Oppression results from:

  1. The use of institutional power and privilege where one person or group benefits at the expense of another.
  2. 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 4 conditions are found:

  1. The oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,
  2. The target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),
  3. Genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and,
  4. Members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.

Oppression = Power + Prejudice



 

P (index)

Passive Racism

Beliefs, attitudes and actions that contribute to the maintenance of racism, without openly advocating violence or oppression.


 

People of Color

Often the preferred collective term for referring to non-White racial groups. Racial justice advocates have been using the term "people of color" (not to be confused with the pejorative "colored people") since the late 1970s as an inclusive and unifying frame across different racial groups that are not White, to address racial inequities.

While “people of color” can be a politically useful term, and describes people with their own attributes (as opposed to what they are not, e.g., “non-White”), it is also important whenever possible to identify people through their own racial/ethnic group, as each has its own distinct experience and meaning and the more specific identifier may be more appropriate.



 

Political Unrest Public protest against the government, or where an uprising might take place in the form of a coup by the military in a country.

 

Post-Colonialism/Post-Colonial Theory The tensions and contradictions inherent in the relationship between colonizer and colonized, oppressor and oppressed. In particular, how the colonized/oppressed internalize the ways and language of the colonizer/oppressor, in order to survive within extant social structures.

 

Power

Power may be understood as the ability to influence others and impose one's beliefs. All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another. The importance of the concept of power to anti-racism is clear: racism cannot be understood without understanding that power is not only an individual relationship but a cultural one, and that power relationships are shifting constantly. Power can be used malignantly and intentionally, but need not be, and individuals within a culture may benefit from power of which they are unaware.

Power is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power over other individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.


 

Prejudice

A preconceived judgment about a person or group of people, usually indicating negative bias.

A pre-judgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative, attitude of one type of individual or groups toward another group and its members. Such negative attitudes are typically based on unsupported generalizations (or stereotypes) that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics.


 

Privilege Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because we're taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.

 

Progress The pattern in which advancement is made through the passage of legislation, court rulings, and other formal mechanisms that aim to promote equality.

 

R (index)

Race

A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on certain characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly skin color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification. Racial categories subsume ethnic groups.

For many people, it comes as a surprise that racial categorization schemes were invented by scientists to support worldviews that viewed some groups of people as superior and some as inferior. There are three important concepts linked to this fact:

  1. Race is a made-up social construct, and not an actual biological fact;
  2. Race designations have changed over time. Some groups that are considered “white” in the United States today were considered “non-white” in previous eras, in U.S. Census data and in mass media and popular culture (for example, Irish, Italian, and Jewish people);
  3. The way in which racial categorizations are enforced (the shape of racism) has also changed over time. For example, the racial designation of Asian American and Pacific Islander changed four times in the 19th century. That is, they were defined at times as white and at other times as not white. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as designated groups, have been used by whites at different times in history to compete with African American labor.

 

Race Consciousness Explicit acknowledgment of the workings of race and racism in social contexts or in one's personal life.

 

Racial and Ethnic Identity An individual's awareness and experience of being a member of a racial and ethnic group; the racial and ethnic categories that an individual chooses to describe him or herself based on such factors as biological heritage, physical appearance, cultural affiliation, early socialization, and personal experience.

 

Racial Equity Brings about clear, simple, direct remedies for historic and present-day structural and policy barriers producing racial disparities and disparate impacts. It is not merely a value; equity is a systemic shift. Race equity is actualized fairness and justice; and is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares.

When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.


 

Racial Identity Development Theory Racial Identity Development Theory discusses how people in various racial groups and with multiracial identities form their particular self-concept. It also describes some typical phases in remaking that identity based on learning and awareness of systems of privilege and structural racism, cultural and historical meanings attached to racial categories, and factors operating in the larger socio-historical level (e.g. globalization, technology, immigration, and increasing multiracial population).

 

Racial Inequity Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing, such as the percentages of each ethnic group in terms of dropout rates, single family home ownership, access to healthcare, educational opportunities, career mobility, etc.

 

Racial Justice

The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial Justice [is defined] as the proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts and outcomes for all.

Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures.



 

Racial Reconciliation

Reconciliation involves three ideas:

  1. It recognizes that racism is both systemic and institutionalized, with far–reaching effects on both political engagement and economic opportunities for minorities;
  2. Reconciliation is engendered by empowering local communities through relationship- building and truth–telling;
  3. Justice is the essential component of the reconciliatory processï—justice that is best termed as restorative rather than retributive, while still maintaining its vital punitive character.

 

Racialization

Racialization is the very complex and contradictory process through which groups come to be designated as being of a particular "race" and on that basis subjected to differential and/or unequal treatment. Put simply, racialization [is] the process of manufacturing and utilizing the notion of race in any capacity." (Dalal, 2002, p. 27).

While white people are also racialized, this process is often rendered invisible or normative to those designated as white. As a result, white people may not see themselves as part of a race but still maintain the authority to name and racialize "others."


 

Racism

A doctrine or teaching, without scientific support, that does three things:

  1. Claims to find racial differences in things like character and intelligence;
  2. Asserts the superiority of one race over another or others;
  3. Seeks to maintain that dominance through a complex system of beliefs, behaviors, use of language and policies.
  • 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 system

Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices.


 

Racist One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or interaction or expressing a racist idea.

 

Racist Ideas A racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.

 

Racist Policies

A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between or among racial groups. Policies are written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations and guidelines that govern people.

There is no such thing as a nonracist or or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies are also express through other terms such as “structural racism” or “systemic racism”. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.



 

Reparations

States have a legal duty to acknowledge and address widespread or systematic human rights violations in cases where the state caused the violations or did not seriously try to prevent them. Reparations initiatives seek to address the harms caused by these violations. Reparations publicly affirm that victims are rights-holders entitled to redress.

Reparations can take the form of compensating for the losses suffered, which helps overcome some of the consequences of abuse. They can also be future oriented—providing rehabilitation and a better life to victims—and help to change the underlying causes of abuse.


 

Restorative Justice

A theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by wrongful behavior. This can lead to transformation of people, relationships and communities.

Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places decisions in the hands of those who have been most affected by a wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community. Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense. Restorative Justice emphasizes individual and collective accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities to build community and increase grassroots power when restorative practices are employed.


 

Retrenchment The ways in which progress is very often challenged, neutralized or undermined.

 

Rioting The violent and uncontrolled behavior of a large group of people.

 

S (index)

Settler Colonialism

Settler colonialism refers to colonization in which colonizing powers create permanent or long-term settlement on land owned and/or occupied by other peoples, often by force. This contrasts with colonialism where colonizer's focus only on extracting resources back to their countries of origin, for example. Settler Colonialism typically includes oppressive governance, dismantling of indigenous cultural forms, and enforcement of codes of superiority (such as white supremacy).

Examples include white European occupations of land in what is now the United States, Spain’s settlements throughout Latin America, and the Apartheid government established by White Europeans in South Africa.

Per Dino Gillio-Whitaker, “Settler Colonialism may be said to be a structure, not an historic event, whose endgame is always the elimination of the Natives in order to acquire their land, which it does in countless seen and unseen ways. These techniques are woven throughout the US’s national discourse at all levels of society. Manifest Destiny—that is, the US’s divinely sanctioned inevitability—is like a computer program always operating unnoticeably in the background. In this program, genocide and land dispossession are continually both justified and denied.”


 

Sexism Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in sex/gender, usually, but not always, by men against women.

 

Silencing The conscious or unconscious processes by which the voice or participation of particular social identities is excluded, inhibited, or suppressed.

 

Social Justice A process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.

 

Stereotype Blanket beliefs, unconscious associations, and expectations about members of certain groups that present an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude or uncritical judgment.

 

Structural Racialization

Structural racialization connotes the dynamic process that creates cumulative and durable inequalities based on race. Interactions between individuals are shaped by and reflect underlying and often hidden structures that shape biases and create disparate outcomes even in the absence of racist actors or racist intentions. The presence of structural racialization is evidenced by consistent differences in outcomes in education attainment, family wealth and even life span.


 

Structural Racism

A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity.

  1. The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and the entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.
  2. For example, we can see structural racism in the many institutional, cultural and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access and quality of care, and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things.    

 

Structural White Privilege A system of white domination that creates and maintains belief systems that make current racial advantages and disadvantages seem normal. The system includes powerful incentives for maintaining white privilege and its consequences, and powerful negative consequences for trying to interrupt white privilege or reduce its consequences in meaningful ways.

 

System of Oppression Conscious and unconscious, nonrandom, and organized harassment, discrimination, exploitation, discrimination, prejudice and other forms of unequal treatment that impact different groups.

 

Systemic Racism See Structural Racism. If there is a difference between the terms, it can be said to exist in the fact that a structural racism analysis pays more attention to the historical, cultural and social psychological aspects of a currently racialized society.

 

T (index)

Targeted Universalism

Targeted universalism means setting universal goals pursued by targeted processes to achieve those goals. Within a targeted universalism framework, universal goals are established for all groups concerned. The strategies developed to achieve those goals are targeted, based upon how different groups are situated within structures, culture, and across geographies to obtain the universal goal.

Targeted universalism is goal oriented, and the processes are directed in service of the explicit, universal goal.


 

Transphobia

The fear or hatred of persons perceived to be transgender and/or transexual.


 

W (index)

White Fragility

A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation; these behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.


 

White Privilege

The historical and contemporary benefits of access to resources and social rewards and the power to shape the norms and values of society which Whites receive, unconsciously and consciously, by virtue of their skin color in a racist society. Its existence is often invisible to the person who has it.

Refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.

The accumulated and interrelated advantages and disadvantages of white privilege that are reflected in racial/ethnic inequities in life-expectancy and other health outcomes, income and wealth and other outcomes, in part through different access to opportunities and resources: these differences are maintained in part by denying that these advantages and disadvantages exist at the structural, institutional, cultural, interpersonal and individual levels and by refusing to redress them or eliminate the systems, policies, practices, cultural norms and other behaviors and assumptions that maintain them.

  1. Structural White Privilege: A system of white domination that creates and maintains belief systems that make current racial advantages and disadvantages seem normal. The system includes powerful incentives for maintaining white privilege and its consequences, and powerful negative consequences for trying to interrupt white privilege or reduce its consequences in meaningful ways. The system includes internal and external manifestations at the individual, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels. 
  2. Interpersonal White Privilege: Behavior between people that consciously or unconsciously reflects white superiority or entitlement. 
  3. Cultural White Privilege: A set of dominant cultural assumptions about what is good, normal or appropriate that reflects Western European white world views and dismisses or demonizes other world views. 
  4. Institutional White Privilege: Policies, practices and behaviors of institutions -- such as schools, banks, non-profits or the Supreme Court -- that have the effect of maintaining or increasing accumulated advantages for those groups currently defined as white, and maintaining or increasing disadvantages for those racial or ethnic groups not defined as white. The ability of institutions to survive and thrive even when their policies, practices and behaviors maintain, expand or fail to redress accumulated disadvantages and/or inequitable outcomes for people of color.

 

White Supremacy

White Supremacy is a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.

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.


 

White Supremacy Culture

  1. White Supremacy Culture refers to the dominant, unquestioned standards of behavior and ways of functioning embodied by the vast majority of institutions in the United States. These standards may be seen as mainstream, dominant cultural practices; they have evolved from the United States' history of white supremacy. Because it is so normalized it can be hard to see, which only adds to its powerful hold. In many ways, it is indistinguishable from what we might call U.S. culture or norms — a focus on individuals over groups, for example, or an emphasis on the written word as a form of professional communication. But it operates in even more subtle ways, by actually defining what "normal" is — and likewise, what "professional", "effective", or even "good" is. In turn, white culture also defines what is not good, "at risk" or "unsustainable". White culture values some ways — ways that are more familiar and come more naturally to those from a white, western tradition — of thinking, behaving, deciding, and knowing, while devaluing or rendering invisible other ways. And it does this without ever having to explicitly say so.
  2. White supremacy culture is an artificial, historically constructed culture which expresses, justifies and binds together the United States white supremacy system. It is the glue that binds together white-controlled institutions into systems and white-controlled systems into the global white supremacy system.

 

Whiteness

The term "White," referring to people, was created by Virginia slave owners and colonial rules in the 17th century. It replaced terms like Christian and Englishman to distinguish European colonists from Africans and indigenous peoples. European colonial powers established whiteness as a legal concept after Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, during which indentured servants of European and African descent had united against the colonial elite. The legal distinction of white separated the servant class on the basis of skin color and continental origin. The creation of "whiteness" meant giving privileges to some, while denying them to others with the justification of biological and social inferiority.

Whiteness itself refers to the specific dimensions of racism that serve to elevate white people over people of color. This definition counters the dominant representation of racism in mainstream education as isolated in discrete behaviors that some individuals may or may not demonstrate, and goes beyond naming specific privileges (McIntosh, 1988). Whites are theorized as actively shaped, affected, defined, and elevated through their racialization and the individual and collective consciousness’ formed within it (Whiteness is thus conceptualized as a constellation of processes and practices rather than as a discrete entity (i.e. skin color alone). Whiteness is dynamic, relational, and operating at all times and on myriad levels. These processes and practices include basic rights, values, beliefs, perspectives and experiences purported to be commonly shared by all but which are actually only consistently afforded to white people.


 

X (index)

Xenophobia

The fear or hatred of foreigners.


 

The following sources were used in the creation of this glossary:

Advertisement

You may also be interested in