GLOSSARY OF TERMS
These definitions were provided by and printed with the permission of Dr. Matthew Whitaker of Diamond Strategies.
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Ableism: Ableism is the intentional or unintentional discrimination or oppression of individuals with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior.
Accessibility: The quality of being possible to get into, use, make use of.
Accomplice: All accomplices are allies, but not all allies are accomplices. While an ally is willing to stand in support of a marginalized voice, risk is rarely involved. An accomplice uses the power and privilege they must challenge the status quo, often risking their physical and social well-being in the process.
Ageism: Refers to two concepts: a socially constructed way of thinking about older persons based on negative attitudes and stereotypes about aging and a tendency to structure society based on an assumption that everyone is young, thereby failing to respond appropriately to the real needs of older persons.
Allyship & Advocacy: When a person of privilege works in solidarity and partnership with a marginalized group of people to help dismantle systems that challenge a group’s basic rights, equitable access, and ability to thrive in society or workplaces.
Cultural Humility: The concept of cultural humility was developed by Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia in 1998 to address inequities in the healthcare field. It is now used in many fields, including education, public health, social work, and library science, to increase the quality of interactions between workers and their diverse community members. Cultural humility goes beyond the concept of cultural competence to include: 1)A personal lifelong commitment to selfevaluation and self-critique; 2) recognition of power dynamics and imbalances; and 3) a desire to fix those power imbalances and to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others institutional accountability (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998).
Belonging: When diversity, equity, inclusion become embedded in your institutional culture, a sense of Belonging will emerge. Belonging is the feeling of security and support. It is when an individual can bring their authentic self to work.
Bias: Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person or group compared to another; usually in a way considered unfair. Implicit bias is unconscious, explicit bias is conscious.
Bigotry: The fact of having and expressing strong, unreasonable beliefs and disliking other people who have different beliefs or a different way of life.
BIPOC: An acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color.
Cisgender: Adj—A term used to describe people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Often abbreviated to cis.
Class: Refers to people’s socio-economic status, based on factors such as wealth, occupation, education, income etc.
Classism: Differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class. Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups. It’s the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class.
Culture: Learned and shared values, beliefs, languages, and customs of a social group.
Cultural Humility: The concept of cultural humility was developed by Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia in 1998 to address inequities in the healthcare field. It is now used in many fields, including education, public health, social work, and library science, to increase the quality of interactions between workers and their diverse community members. Cultural humility goes beyond the concept of cultural competence to include: 1)A personal lifelong commitment to selfevaluation and self-critique; 2) recognition of power dynamics and imbalances; and 3) a desire to fix those power imbalances and to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others institutional accountability (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998)
Cultural Responsiveness: The application of a defined set of values, principles, skills, attitudes, policies, and behaviors that enable individuals and groups to work effectively across cultures. Cultural responsiveness is a developmental process (and continuum) that evolves over time for both individuals and organizations. It is defined as having the capacity to: (1) value diversity; (2) conduct assessment of self; (3) manage the dynamics of difference; (4) acquire and apply cultural knowledge; and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities in which one lives and works.
Disability: Having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability.
Discrimination: Prejudiced treatment of a person based on the social groups to which they belong, and stereotypes about those groups. When committed by an individual, discrimination can be broken down into two types: traditional discrimination (openly negative treatment) and modern discrimination (subtle negative treatment).
Diversity: The presence, acceptance, and appreciation of varied cultures, ideas, and perspectives and. The concept of diversity embraces the wide range of human characteristics used to mark or identify individual and group identities. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, race, national origin, age, personality, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ability, and linguistic preferences (see the “Diversity Wheel” below). Diversity is a term used as shorthand for visible and quantifiable statuses, but diversity of thought and ways of knowing, being, and doing are also understood as natural, valued, and desired states, the presence of which benefit organizations, workplaces, and society.
Emotional Tax: Noun: The combination of being on guard to protect against bias, feeling different at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity, and the associated effects on health, well-being, and ability to thrive at work. Empowerment: The state of being empowered to do something: the power, right, or authority to do something. Equity: A condition that balances two dimensions: fairness and inclusion. As a function of fairness, equity implies ensuring that people have what they need to participate in school life and reach their full potential. Equitable treatment involves eliminating barriers that prevent the full participation of all individuals. As a function of inclusion, equity ensures that essential educational programs, services, activities, and technologies are accessible to all. Equity is not equality; it is the expression of justice, ethics, multi-partiality, and the absence of discrimination.
Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group identity, values, culture, language, history, ancestry, and geography.
Feminism: The belief that all genders have equal rights and opportunities.
Implicit Bias: The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Everyone is susceptible to implicit biases.
Gender: Socially constructed categories of masculinity and manhood, femininity and womanhood that goes beyond one’s reproductive functions. Gender is distinct from one’s sexual orientation.
Heterosexism: The assumption that heterosexuality is the social and cultural norm as well as the prejudiced belief that heterosexuals, or “straight” people, are socially and culturally superior to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, and queer (LGBTTQ) people.
Homophobia: The irrational fear, dislike, hatred, aversion, intolerance, and ignorance of homosexuality and of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit, queer/questioning, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTTQIA), individuals.
Inclusivity/Inclusiveness: Encompassing all; taking every individual’s experience and identity into account and creating conditions where all feel accepted, safe, empowered, supported, and affirmed. An inclusive school or organization expands its sense of community to include all, cultivating belonging and giving all an equal voice. Inclusivity also promotes and enacts the sharing of power and recognition of interdependence, where authorizing individuals and community members share responsibility for expressing core values and maintaining respect for differences in the spirit of care and cooperation.
Indigenous: Peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present state boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all their own social, economic, cultural, and political institutions.
Institutional Racism: A pattern and practice of social institutions—such as governmental organizations, schools, banks, and courts of law—giving negative treatment, through policy and behavior, to a group of people based on their race.
Intent vs. Impact: Our intentions (what we want or hope to do) don’t always align with what we say or do which can impact how others receive what one says and does. INTENT Refers to what you hope or want to do when choosing to perform an action. IMPACT Refers to the reality (e.g., results) of your actions/ behaviors. The resulting impact may not always align with what you intended. Owning the impact: When one’s impact is being called into question, especially if the action is perpetuating oppression, it is important to recognize the action is being called into question not the person/overall character.
Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
LGBTQIA+: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transexual, queer/questioning, intersex, and allied/asexual/aromantic/agender.
Marginalization: To relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group.
Micro-inequity: Apparent, small events, which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur wherever people are perceived to be different.
Microaggressions: Microaggressions are subtle words, cues, and/or behaviors that insult, invalidate, or exclude traditionally marginalized group members. The long-term effect of microaggressions can be a significant negative effect on one’s health.
Marginalization/Social Exclusion: The process in which individuals are blocked from (or denied full access to) various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration and observance of human rights within that group (e.g., housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, democratic participation, and due process)
Multiculturalism: The presence of many distinctive cultures and the manifestation of cultural components and derivatives (e.g., language, values, religion, race, communication styles, etc.) in each setting. Multiculturalism promotes the understanding of, and respect for cultural differences, and celebrates them as source of community strength. Multiculturalism is also defined as set of programs, policies, and practices that enable and maximize the benefits of diversity in a school community or organization.
Neurodiversity: Noun: The concept that there is great diversity in how people’s brains are wired and work, and that neurological differences should be valued in the same way we value any other human variation.
Non-binary: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.
Oppression: Systemic devaluing, undermining, marginalizing, and disadvantaging of certain social identities in contrast to the privileged norm; when some people are denied something of value, while others have ready access.
Pansexual: The romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction to people regardless of their gender.
Performative Allyship: When an individual or group of power/majority/privilege (e.g., white, male, abled, non-queer, etc.) loudly profess(es) their actions in the name of ‘allyship,’ while actively conducting harm to, taking focus away from, and generally being unhelpful towards the group they claim to support, often to receive praise and attention, without taking critical action to dismantle the systems of harm.
Positionality: Social identities in relation to power, which influences the way we understand the world and our interactions with others.
Prejudice: Pre-judgement/Personal bias for or against anything, all humans have bias and prejudice.
Privilege: Systemic favoring, enriching, valuing, validating, and including of certain social identities over others. Individuals cannot “opt out” of systems of privilege; rather these systems are inherent to the society in which we live.
Race: A social construct that divides people into groups based on factors such as physical appearance, ancestry, culture, history, etc.; a social, historical, and political classification system.
Racism: A system of advantage based on race. This advantage occurs at the individual, cultural and institutional levels. Racism can also be defined as prejudice plus power. Sexual orientation: A concept referring to a person’s sexual desire in relation to the sex/gender to which they are attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, or pansexual.
Social class: (as in upper class, middle class, working class): Refers to people’s socio-economic status, based on factors such as wealth, occupation, education, income, etc.
Social Justice: Active engagement toward equity and inclusion that addresses issues of institutional, structural, and environmental inequity, power, and privilege.
Stereotypes: Assumptions we make about people because of the social groups to which they belong.
Systemic Racism: (AKA structural racism or institutional racism) Systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage African Americans, Indigenous people, Latinx people, and people of color.
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. [University of California—Berkeley, Othering & Belonging Institute]
White Privilege: A concept that highlights the unfair societal advantages that white people have over non-white people. It is something that is pervasive throughout society and exists in all the major systems and institutions that operate in society, as well as on an interpersonal level.
White Supremacy: Historically, white supremacy has been understood as the belief that white people are superior to people of color. As such, white supremacy was the ideological driver of the European colonial projects and U.S. imperial projects: it was used to rationalize unjust rule of people and lands, theft of land and resources, enslavement, and genocide. During these early periods and practices, white supremacy was backed by misguided scientific studies of physical differences based on race and was also believed to take intellectual and cultural form.
Womanist: A Black feminist or feminist of color. Black American activist and author Alice Walker has used the term to describe Black women who are deeply committed to the wholeness and wellbeing of all of humanity, male and female. According to Walker, “womanist” unites women of color with the feminist movement at “the intersection of race, class, and gender oppression.”
Workplace Inclusion: Noun: An atmosphere where all employees belong, contribute, and can thrive. Requires deliberate and intentional action.