Words matter. And in order for us to take the work forward of building inclusiveness into the fabric of our school and community, we must have a shared comprehension of key terminology.

This list is in no way exhaustive and we will continue to build upon it as 'the work' continues. We should use correct terminology to break down toxic and unjust constructs and engage in this massive rebuild effort.


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

  2. 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.


  1. OpenSource Leadership Strategies, “The Dynamic System of Power, Privilege and Oppressions.”

  2. Center for Assessment and Policy Development.


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.

SOURCE: Race Forward

Anti-Racist Ideas

An antiracist idea is any idea that suggests the racial groups are equals in all of their apparent difference and that there is nothing wrong with any racial group. Antiracists argue that that racist policies are the cause of racial injustices.


Ibram X Kendi, How to be an Antiracist, Random House, 2019


Intolerant prejudice that glorifies one's own group and denigrates members of other groups. An unreasonable or irrational attachment to negative stereotypes and prejudices.


National Conference for Community and Justice - St. Louis Region. Unpublished handout used in the Dismantling Racism Institute program.


An acronym which stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Meant to account for the erasure of black people with darker skin and Native American people. Significant as it recognizes that black and indigenous people are severaly impacted by systemic racial injustices.

Founders of "The BIPOC Project" use the term to "highlight the unique relationship to Whiteness that Indigenous and Black (African Americans) people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context."

Source: The BIPOC Project

Black Lives Matter

A political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. [Black Lives Matter] members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

SOURCE: Black Lives Matter, “Herstory

Caucusing (Affinity Groups)

White people and people of color each have work to do separately and together. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups. For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege, and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than relying on people of color to teach them (as often occurs in integrated spaces). For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with their peers on their experiences of internalized racism, for healing and to work on liberation.


Cultural Responsiveness

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

(5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities in which one lives and works.


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

  2. [In the United States] the law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants' and employees' sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

  3. Can be seen in many arenas including employment, education, housing, banking and political rights

  4. Discrimination is an action that can follow prejudicial thinking.


  1. Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative. A Community Builder's Tool Kit.

  2. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Laws Enforced by EEOC” Accessed June 28 2013


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. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term "diversity" is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.

It is important to note that many activists and thinkers critique diversity alone as a strategy. For instance, Baltimore Racial Justice Action states: “Diversity is silent on the subject of equity. In an anti-oppression context, therefore, the issue is not diversity, but rather equity. Often when people talk about diversity, they are thinking only of the “non-dominant” groups.”


UC Berkeley Center for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, Glossary of Terms

Baltimore Racial Justice Action


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.


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.

Gender Expression

This is the way we show our gender to the world around us through such manifestations as clothing, hairstyles, and mannerisms to name a few.

Gender Identity

A person’s internal sense of themselves as a specific gender. A cisgender person has a gender identity consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender person has a gender identity that does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender, however, is a spectrum and is not limited to just two possibilities. A person may have a non-binary gender identity meaning they do not identify strictly as a boy or a girl.

Hate Speech

Speech that incites attackes or threatens a group on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.


A sense of self, of who one is. In the context of diversity, the term identity relates to the various cultural and social group memberships used by people to define, describe, or categorize themselves or others, including race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientations, abilities, and age.

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, in an effort to process information and make decisions quickly. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.

Everyone is susceptible to implicit biases.

Decreasing our unconscious bias is not a one-and-done activity.


State of the Science Implicit Bias Review 2013, Cheryl Staats, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University.

Inclusion / 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.

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


OpenSource Leadership Strategies, Some Working Definitions

Intention vs. Impact

The idea that we may all have positive intent but it is the impact of our language and actions that matter and to which we are held accountable.

A good phrase to leverage is "That was not my intent, but I understand the impact is what matters".

Interpersonal Racism

Interpersonal racism occurs between individuals. Once we bring our private beliefs into our interaction with others, racism is now in the interpersonal realm.

Examples: public expressions of racial prejudice, hate, bias and bigotry between individuals


Tools and Concepts for Strengthening Racial Equity, Presentation to School District U-46 Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, 2011.


an acronym that collectively refers to individuals who identify as in any of the following ways:

  • lesbian

  • gay

  • bisexual

  • transgender

  • queer

  • intersex

  • asexual


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.

  • Microassault: Overt discrimination. Acts that are intentional.

  • Microinsult: Comment communicates the demographic group is not respected. Dismissed. Treated as invisible, not belonging.

  • Microinvalidation: Comment or action that dismisses the historically disadvantaged group members. Colorblindness.


Derald Wing Sue, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race,” Psychology Today, November 17, 2010,

Movement Building

Movement building is the effort of social change agents to engage power holders and the broader society in addressing a systemic problem or injustice while promoting an alternative vision or solution. Movement building requires a range of intersecting approaches through a set of distinct stages over a long-term period of time. Through movement building, organizers can

  • Propose solutions to the root causes of social problems;

  • Enable people to exercise their collective power;

  • Humanize groups that have been denied basic human rights and improve conditions for the groups affected;

  • Create structural change by building something larger than a particular organization or campaign; and

  • Promote visions and values for society based on fairness, justice and democracy


Roots: Building the Power of Communities of Color to Challenge Structural Racism. Akonadi Foundation, 2010. (Definition from the Movement Strategy Center.)


The presence of many distinctive cultures and the manifestation of cultural components and derivatives (e.g. language, values, religion, race, communication styles, etc.) in a given 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.


The act of using words, including labels, jokes or other expressions to describe, demean, taunt or verbally harass a person or group of people.

People of Color (PoC)

Often the preferred collective term for referring to non-White racial groups. Racial justice advocates have been using the term “people of color” (not to be confused with the pejorative “colored people”) since the late 1970s as an inclusive and unifying frame across different racial groups that are not White, to address racial inequities. While “people of color” can be a politically useful term, and describes people with their own attributes (as opposed to what they are not, e.g., “non-White”), it is also important whenever possible to identify people through their own racial/ethnic group, as each has its own distinct experience and meaning and may be more appropriate.


Race Forward, "Race Reporting Guide"


Power is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power overother individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.

Power may also be understood as the ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs. All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another. The importance of the concept of power to anti-racism is clear: racism cannot be understood without understanding that power is not only an individual relationship but a cultural one, and that power relationships are shifting constantly. Power can be used malignantly and intentionally, but need not be, and individuals within a culture may benefit from power of which they are unaware.


Intergroup Resources, 2012

Alberta Civil Liberties Research Center


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.


Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative. A Community Builder's Tool Kit.


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.


For many people, it comes as a surprise that racial categorization schemes were invented by scientists to support worldviews that viewed some groups of people as superior and some as inferior. There are three important concepts linked to this fact:

  • Race is a made-up social construct, and not an actual biological fact

  • Race designations have changed over time. Some groups that are considered “white” in the United States today were considered “non-white” in previous eras, in U.S. Census data and in mass media and popular culture (for example, Irish, Italian and Jewish people).

  • The way in which racial categorizations are enforced (the shape of racism) has also changed over time. For example, the racial designation of Asian American and Pacific Islander changed four times in the 19th century. That is, they were defined at times as white and at other times as not white. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as designated groups, have been used by whites at different times in history to compete with African American labor.


PBS, Race: Power of an Illusion

Paul Kivel, Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice (Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society Publishers, 2002), p.141.

Racial Equity

Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.


Center for Assessment and Policy Development


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. 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.

  • Racism = race prejudice + social and institutional power

  • Racism = a system of advantage based on race

  • Racism = a system of oppression based on race

  • Racism = a white supremacy system

Personally mediated: lives in individual people as the devaluation and dehumanization of others based on race. It is usually the most recognized kind of racism, existing in the form of stereotypes, bias and selective exposure.

Internalized: Internalized racism is the acceptance of racist attitudes by members of a stigmatized race and the adoption of negative messages about their own abilities and values as a person.

SOURCE: Dismantling Racism Works web workbook

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is 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. Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense. Restorative Justice emphasizes individual and collective accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities to build community and increase grassroots power when restorative practices are employed.

SOURCE: The Movement for Black Lives


Blaming an individual or group of people for something based on that person or group's identity when, in reality, the person or group is not responsible. Prejudicial thinking and discriminatory acts can lead to scapegoating.

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.

Structural Racism

Structural Racism in the U.S. is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white supremacy – the preferential treatment, privilege and power for white people at the expense of Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Arab and other racially oppressed people.\(as defined by

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.


Targeted Universalism: Policy & Practice A Primer , john a. powell, Stephen Menendian, Wendy Ake

White Privilege

  1. Refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.

  2. Structural White Privilege: A system of white domination that creates and maintains belief systems that make current racial advantages and disadvantages seem normal. The system includes powerful incentives for maintaining white privilege and its consequences, and powerful negative consequences for trying to interrupt white privilege or reduce its consequences in meaningful ways. The system includes internal and external manifestations at the individual, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels.

  • The accumulated and interrelated advantages and disadvantages of white privilege that are reflected in racial/ethnic inequities in life-expectancy and other health outcomes, income and wealth and other outcomes, in part through different access to opportunities and resources. These differences are maintained in part by denying that these advantages and disadvantages exist at the structural, institutional, cultural, interpersonal and individual levels and by refusing to redress them or eliminate the systems, policies, practices, cultural norms and other behaviors and assumptions that maintain them.

  • Interpersonal White Privilege: Behavior between people that consciously or unconsciously reflects white superiority or entitlement.

  • Cultural White Privilege: A set of dominant cultural assumptions about what is good, normal or appropriate that reflects Western European white world views and dismisses or demonizes other world views.

  • Institutional White Privilege: Policies, practices and behaviors of institutions -- such as schools, banks, non-profits or the Supreme Court -- that have the effect of maintaining or increasing accumulated advantages for those groups currently defined as white, and maintaining or increasing disadvantages for those racial or ethnic groups not defined as white. The ability of institutions to survive and thrive even when their policies, practices and behaviors maintain, expand or fail to redress accumulated disadvantages and/or inequitable outcomes for people of color.


  1. White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women Studies. Peggy McIntosh. 1988.

  2. Transforming White Privilege: A 21st Century Leadership Capacity, CAPD, MP Associates, World Trust Educational Services, 2012.