Glossary of Terms

Throughout our journey to becoming an antiracist corporation, the following list of carefully researched glossary of terms, concepts and terminology used in relating to issues of ethnicity and race that may be used for reflection, discussion or reference. This list is a starting point and will continue to evolve and grow.

Allyship: Being an ally refers to supporting members of oppressed groups and actively trying to change the systems that contribute to oppression. Allyship is a process that involves listening and understanding how power, privilege, and oppression are connected. It includes ongoing self-education work.

Ancestral trauma: Ancestral trauma is the the transmission of trauma from survivors to the next generations.

Anti-Blackness: Anti-blackness is racism specifically directed at Black people; it includes dehumanization and indifference to suffering. It can be enacted by white people and by other communities of color. Examining anti-blackness is an important part of understanding the unique ways racism impacts Black people.

Anti-Racism: Anti-Racism is the active, on-going process of dismantling systems of racial inequity and creating new systems of racial equity. Anti-racism demands that this work be done at the individual, organizational/ institutional, and cultural levels in order to effectively address systemic racism. Anti-racism is an approach, not an end-point, and thus provides a useful frame for an organizational change process.

Assimilate: Assimilate is to take on the customs, mannerisms, and ideas of a dominant group in order to fit in.

Bias: Bias is an intentional or unintentional personal preference for, or against, an individual or group. It can interfere with your judgement.

BIPoC: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). Seeks to be more specific than ‘people of color’ by indicating the varying degree of discrimination and prejudice faced by Black and Indigenous individuals. The term highlights the specific violence, cultural erasure, and discrimination experienced by Black and Indigenous people. It reinforces the fact that not all people of color have the same experience, particularly when it comes to legislation and systemic oppression.

Discrimination: Discrimination means treating someone differently, or less favorably, based on specific characteristics. Not all discrimination is unlawful, but discrimination based on categories that are specifically protected by laws generally is unlawful.

Favoring one group over another in your thoughts and actions (both conscious and unconscious biases). It’s the unjust treatment of folks who have different social identities than you.

Diversity: Diversity is about understanding and honoring the ways people are unique. It includes the incredible variety that exists from one person to another. This variety can come from traits like race, sex/gender, gender identity, color, ability, age, and sexual orientation. Things like appearance, body size, culture, national origin, education and economic background also play a key role in informing who we are and how we think.

Ethnicity: Your cultural heritage, language, traditions, ancestral history. It is not the same as your race.

Equality: Equality means sameness, so treating people equally means treating everyone the same.

Equity: Equity means fairness, which is about giving everyone what they need to be successful. This includes a guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all individuals while working to identify and eliminate barriers to full participation.

Ethnicity: An ethnicity is a named social category of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestry, language, history, society, culture, nation, religion, or social treatment within their residing area. According to the US Federal government there are two ethnic categories: (1) Hispanic (2) non-Hispanic.

Gaslighting: Gaslighting is a reference to the 1944 film Gaslight. It refers to a form of psychological abuse where someone is manipulated by another person to the point where they question whether their own experience of reality is valid.

Inclusion: Inclusion is about welcoming all people and ensuring they have equitable access to opportunities, benefits, and services by creating environments of mutual respect where everyone is valued and supported.

Individual racism: Individual racism is racial discrimination that stems from conscious and unconscious, personal prejudice.

Institutional Oppression: Oppression happens at an institutional level when ideological oppression becomes woven into the systems and institutions that make society run. Institutional oppression can be seen in common policies and practices, like how people with the least access to money often pay the highest loan or credit card interest rates because they don’t have well-established credit histories.

Microaggressions: Microaggressions are brief, common exchanges that can communicate hostility, disrespect, or similar negative messages about an identity. Microaggressions can be hard to recognize because they are often subtle and sometimes unintentional.

Microassaults: Microassault is an explicit racial derogations characterized primarily by a verbal or nonverbal attack meant to hurt the intended victim through name-calling, avoidant behavior, or purposeful discriminatory actions.

Microinsults: Microinsults represent subtle snubs, frequently unknown to the perpetrator, but clearly convey a hidden insulting message to the recipient of color.

Microinvalidations: Microinvalidations are characterized by communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person of color.

Nationality: Nationality is membership in a country where you were born and/or where your citizenship resides.

Oppression: Oppression is the systemic and systematic suppression of a group or groups, by a group of power, it is the underserved disadvantage. (Privilege is the opposite side of the coin – unearned advantage.) Sometimes oppression is accidental, and sometimes it’s intentional. It can be turned outward against other people, or inward against oneself (referred to as “internalized oppression”). Oppression is a form of injustice that may occur between people, and as part of larger institutions and systems.

Organizational Change: Organizational change is about reviewing and modifying management structures and procedures. For example, making changes to policy, hiring practices and governance.

Race: Race is a dynamic, fluid, relational category, socially constructed for political and economic interests over groups of people. This social construct loosely refers to a group of people distinguished from others often by physical characteristics such as color of skin, shape of eyes, hair texture or facial features. Standard race categories include:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.
  • Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Black or African American (non-Hispanic): A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Terms such as "Haitian" or "Negro" can be used in addition to "Black or African American."
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
  • White (non-Hispanic): A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa

Racism: racial prejudice + power – occurs when the expression of racial prejudice emerges from someone or something with a more powerful/privileged location in the hierarchy.

Racial Equity: Racial equity refers to achieved results where advantage and disadvantage are not distributed on the basis of race and ethnicity. Strategies that produce equity must be targeted to address the unequal needs, conditions, and positions of people and communities that are created by institutional and structural barriers. Equity requires a set of informed policies and practices, intentionally designed to promote opportunity and rectify disparities, as well as informed people positioned to implement them effectively.

Racial prejudice: a set of discriminatory or derogatory attitudes based on assumptions deriving from perceptions directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

Shadeism: This word shadeism (also known as colorism describes the discrimination based on skin tone, which exists amongst members of the same community, creating a ranking of a person’s individual worth based on shade. For more about Shadeism, access the Shadeism Film on Vimeo.

Stigma: Stigma is an unjust, negative societal view associated with a group, often based on a trait, condition, or aspect of identity.

Superiority: Superiority is the belief that you are better than someone else.

Systemic racism: Systemic racism is policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups. It differs from overt discrimination in that no individual intent is necessary.

Anti-Racism Glossary PDF

Ending Racism Together