Below is a list of common terms and their definitions. Note that language is both fluid and multifaceted and thus there may be more ways to describe the same term not listed here.

  • Ally – noun: a person who is engaged in building nurturing and supportive relationships with historically underrepresented, marginalized, and disenfranchised individuals and groups with the primary goal of advancing inclusion and equity.
  • Anti-racismnoun: an active and conscious effort to work against different dimensions of racism. It is part of the overarching anti-oppressive umbrella and centers race in addressing other forms of discriminatory and oppressive systems, processes, and practices.
  • Biasnoun: having a preference or being in favor of a thing, person, or group over another. The preference is often considered to be unfair.
  • Culture noun: systems of operations, norms, and knowledge shared generally by a large group of people (e.g., food, language, dress, code of conduct, beliefs). These visible, written, and invisible norms are communicated through various forms of interactions, cumulative experiences, and socially transmitted.
  • Cultural Background/Background – noun: The totality of one’s life experience as shaped and structured by their membership in various groups. These groups are based on ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, generation, socioeconomic status, religion, and geographical location, among others.
  • Cultural humility noun: a way of engaging and relating to cultural differences where there is keen awareness of how culture shapes all individuals’ experiences, including how individuals process power, privilege, and various forms of oppression. Cultural humility allows people to be accountable in navigating cultural nuances, rather than mastering or seeing cultural understanding as an outcome or achievement.
  • Diversity noun: various identities that comprise a person. The identities can be inherent (e.g., race), something that is acquired (e.g., experiences), organizational (e.g., position), and or overall moral compass (e.g., existentialism).
  • Equality noun: emphasizes sameness where resources and processes are distributed the same across various individuals and groups regardless of need.
  • Equity noun: the recognition of individual and group differences and needs, with intentional application and distribution of resources that is dependent on those differences and needs.
  • Inclusion – noun: the act or practice of valuing diversity by providing opportunities for different groups to have a voice and space. It is about valuing all folks and especially paving paths for those who have been historically marginalized to feel a sense of belonging.
  • Intersectionality noun: Metaphor for understanding that inequality and discrimination can be compounded by multiple forms of identity such as race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and disability. These obstacles are oftentimes not understood with conventional ways of thinking.
  • Microaggression – noun: Everyday slights, insults, and invalidations that people, especially those who have been historically marginalized, experience on a daily occurrence, generally by folks who are well-intentioned and not aware of their offensive behaviors.
  • Powernoun: Possessing the ability to direct, influence, and make decisions that will affect others and situations.
  • Privilegenoun: The unearned advantage and/or benefits of individuals or groups of people based on their actual or perceived social grouping. It is often formed as a result of considering such social groupings the normed, standard, or typical group and as such, design spaces, products, and structures that unfairly favor that group.
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