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Diversity Glossary

Diversity- Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.

Inclusion- The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity – in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect – in ways that increase one's awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.

Inclusive Excellence- The integration of diversity and educational quality efforts into the core of the academic mission and institutional functioning. Diversity and inclusion are conceptualized as a multi-layered process through which we achieve excellence in learning; research and teaching; student development; institutional functioning; local and global community engagement; workforce development; and more.

Equity  - A measure of fair treatment, opportunities, and outcomes across race, gender, class, and other dynamics

Race  - Race is a social and political concept, not a scientific one. Though race is a social construction rooted in dominant cultural ideologies, it has very real life consequences on individual and collective-lived experiences. The construct of race is too often used as a socio-political tool to discriminate and against groups that are not white.

Anti-racist  - Anti-racism is the  active process  of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably. Being antiracist results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection as we move through life. In the absence of making antiracist choices, we (un)consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society. Being racist or antiracist is not about who you  are ; it is about what you  do .

Racism-  Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism 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.

Intersectionality  - Intersectionality is 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. Per Kimberl Williams Crenshaw, "Intersectionality is simply a prism to see the interactive effects of various forms of discrimination and disempowerment. It looks at the way that racism, many times, interacts with patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia — seeing that the overlapping vulnerabilities created by these systems actually create specific kinds of challenges.” 

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. 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.

Positionality  - The social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status. Positionality also describes how your identity influences, and potentially  biases , your understanding of and outlook on the world.

Prejudice  - An attitude based on limited information, often on stereotypes. Prejudice directed toward oppressed people is damaging because it denies the individuality of the person. In some cases, the prejudices of oppressed people (“you can’t trust the police”) are necessary for survival. No one is free of prejudice. It is important to note the difference between prejudice and any -ism. Racism and sexism, for example, necessitate the power that members of minoritized groups do not have.

Power  - All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another.  Although power is often conceptualized as power over other 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). 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. 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. 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.

Oppression  - The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Oppression = Power + Privilege

Systemic oppression  - Systemic oppression refers to the mistreatment of people within a specific group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions and pervasive ideologies about what is known or “normal” and what is coded as different or the “other.”

Structural Racism  - The overarching system of racial bias across institutions and society. These systems give privileges to white people resulting in disadvantages to people of color. Example: Stereotypes of people of color as criminals in mainstream movies and media. 

White Supremacy  - The ideology that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and "undeserving." The term "white supremacy" also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

Colorblind Racism  - The belief that racism is no longer a problem and that we all have equal opportunities. People who subscribe to colorblind explanations claim they do not see the color of people's skin and believe everyone to be equal. Colorblindness prevents us from seeing the historical causes of racial inequality and how racial inequality persists in our society. It is key to note that colorblind racism does not allow communities of color to celebrate inherited traditions or cultural pride, nor does it allow for assessment of historical barriers that have not affored most groups the privilege of whiteness.

Black Lives Matter Movement  - 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.” Remember, “matter” is the minimum.

Microaggression  - Brief, commonplace, subtle, or blatant daily verbal, behavior, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.

Inclusive Excellence - The integration of diversity and educational quality efforts into the core of the academic mission and institutional functioning. Diversity and inclusion are conceptualized as a multi-layered process through which we achieve excellence in learning; research and teaching; student development; institutional functioning; local and global community engagement; workforce development; and more.

Ism: A social phenomenon and psychological state where prejudice is accompanied by the power to
systemically enact it.

Ableism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental,
and/or emotional ability; usually that of able‐bodied/minded persons against people with illnesses,
disabilities, or less developed skills/talents.

Ageism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in age; usually that of
younger persons against older.

Anti‐Semitism: The fear or hatred of Jews, Judaism, and related symbols.

Classism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in socio‐economic status,
income, class; usually by upper classes against lower.

In‐group Bias: the tendency for groups to "favor" themselves by rewarding group members economically, socially, psychologically, and emotionally in order to uplift one group over another.

Islamophobia: The fear, hatred, and mocking of Muslims or those who are feared to be Muslim.  

Microaggression: An verbal or nonverbal statement or action that is indicative or a larger societal bias or discrimination against a marginalized group.

Othering: Treating people as intrinsically deviant to or dangerous from one's own group and the assumed social norm.

Racism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in race/ethnicity; usually by
white/European descent groups against persons of color.

Sexism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in sex/gender; these occur at individual, interactional, and institutional levels and often place a double-bind on femininity.

Sizeism: The institutional, cultural, and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign differential value and worth to people according to their body size.

Xenophobia: Prejudice or bias against those from (or perceived to be from) foreign (in this case, non-American) nations.