Glossary of terms

Expand AllCollapse All

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

ANTI-RACISM is defined as the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts.

A CISGENDER PERSON is someone whose gender identity corresponds with the sex that person had or was identified as having at birth.       

COLLUSION is 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.

INDIVIDUAL RACISM refers to the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. Individual racism can be deliberate, or the individual may act to perpetuate or support racism without knowing that is what he or she is doing.
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);
  • Voting without exploring a candidate's record on policies relating to equality and equity.

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. 

INTERNALIZED RACISM is 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. It involves four essential and interconnected elements: Decision-making, Resources, Standards, and Naming The Problem.

INTERSECTIONALITY exposes one’s multiple identities to 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 produce a qualitatively distinct life.

MICROAGGRESSIONS are 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. 

For instance: Complimenting a person born and raised in the United States on their English simply because they are not white.

Using outdated and offensive terminology, such as, “That’s so gay.”
Underrepresenting different races, sexualities, and disabilities in the media.

Telling a thin person that they should eat more food.

Asking someone, "Where are you REALLY from? 

MULTICULTURAL COMPETANCY is 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.

PRIVILEGE is 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.

A RACIST is one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or interaction or expressing a racist idea. A racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.

RAINBOW-WASHING is when a business publicly shows support for the LGBTQ+ community, (think: changing social media avatars or publishing support statements at the start of Pride Month) but privately engages in practices that are detrimental to those who identify as LGBTQ+.

WHITE FRAGILITY is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable [for white people], 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 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.

 

Image of campus

Ready to Begin?

Apply Info Chat