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Accountability – In the context of racial equity work, 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.

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-blackness – Behaviors, attitudes and practices of people and institutions that work to dehumanize black people in order to maintain white supremacy.

Ex. Over-questioning the direction, work or style of Black leaders

Anti-racism –  The work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life


Black Indigenous Person/People of Color (BIPOC) – A term referring to “Black and/or Indigenous People of Color.” While “POC” or People of Color is often used as well, BIPOC explicitly leads with Black and Indigenous identities, which helps to counter anti-Black racism and invisibilization of Native communities.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) – A political movement to address systemic and state violence against black people.


Colorism – Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) – A framework developed in the US to expose racial power structures in society.

Cultural Appropriation – Theft of cultural elements—including symbols, art, language, customs, etc.—for one’s own use, commodification, or profit, often without understanding, acknowledgement,or respect for its value in the original culture. 

Culture – A social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of people to assure its adaptation and survival.


Decolonization – 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. 

Discrimination – The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion and other categories.

Diversity – Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another.


Ethnicity – 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.


Implicit Bias – Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. 

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

Institutional Racism – The ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. 

Internalized Racism – The situation 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. 

Intersectionality – Exposing the way one’s multiple identities can help clarify the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression.


Marginalization – A social process by which individuals or groups are (intentionally or unintentionally) distanced from access to power and resources and constructed as insignificant, peripheral, or less valuable/privileged to a community or “mainstream” society.

Microaggression – The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

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. 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.


Nationality – The status of belonging to a particular nation.


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. 

Orientalism – The representation of Asia, especially the Middle East, in a stereotyped way that is regarded as embodying a colonialist attitude.


Person of Color (POC) – Often the preferred collective term for referring to non-White racial groups.

Prejudice – 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.


– Race is a social construct (i.e. man-made invention) based on skin color and facial features (shape of eyes, nose, lips, hair texture, etc.). Even if it isn’t biologically “real”, its impact on people is very much a reality. Race is a system of social categorization which advantages certain groups of people and disadvantages other groups of people.

Ex. Asian, Native American, Black, White, Latino

Racial Justice – The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities 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.

Racism – 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.

Reparations – 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. Reparations publicly affirm that victims are rights-holders entitled to redress.

Restorative Justice – 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.

Reverse Racism – Often called out whenever a white person feels discriminated against because of their race. The problem with this notion is that it focuses purely on racism as an interpersonal construct, rather than a systemic problem. When a white person feels they are experiencing reverse racism, they are probably facing prejudice (as opposed to systemic discrimination).


Structural Racism – The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage white people while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color.

Systemic Racism – This is an interlocking and reciprocal relationship between the individual, institutional and structural levels which function as a system of racism.


Tokenism – The practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a space


White Feminism – A form of feminism that focuses on the struggles of white women while failing to address distinct forms of oppression faced by ethnic minority women and women lacking other privileges.

White Fragility – A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable (for white people), triggering a range of defensive moves. 

White Supremacy – 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.

White – 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.


Xenophobia – Any attitude, behavior, practice, or policy that explicitly or implicitly reflects the belief that immigrants are inferior to the dominant group of people. Xenophobia is reflected in interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels oppression and is a function of White supremacy.