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Glossary of Terms in Equity Dialogue

The following is an incomplete and ever-evolving list of terms used in equity work and social justice conversations.  The DEI Committee has compiled these terms based on experience and existing resources.  The purpose of listing these terms is to ensure that we are all on the same page when having discussions centering on equity.  

NOTE: We recognize that many of the terms on this page are complex in nature, may have a positive or negative connotation, and provided limited definitions that do not address the realities and expressions of a concept.  The DEI Committee recognizes there is work to be done to fully educate our communities on core equity concepts and appreciate your patience as we work toward this goal.


Key Terms

Race: A social construct created to classify and categorize people based on skin color and other physical, social, and biological attributes.

Bias/Predjudice: a preconceived option or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.

    • Conscious: Intentional thoughts and views about certain groups of people.
      • Explicit - attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level.
    • Unconscious: social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.
      • Implicit - processing of information based on unconscious associations and feelings, even when these are contrary to one's conscious or declared opinion.

    Discrimination: act of making distinctions between human beings based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they are perceived to belong.

    Power: Ability to control, coerce, or influence people based on privilege identifies.

    Racism: Race + Prejudice + Discrimination + Power


    Glossary (Alphabetical)

    Access: Creating the necessary conditions so individuals and organizations desiring to, and who are eligible to, use our services, facilities, programs and employment opportunities.

    Allyship: A practice … in which a person holding systemic power seeks to end oppression in solidarity with a group of people who are systemically disempowered. (OCADSV)

    Anti-racism: focused and sustained action, which includes inter-cultural, inter-faith, multi-lingual and inter-abled communities with the intent to change a system or an institutional policy, practice, or procedure which has racist effects."

    Bigot: A person who is obstinately or unreasonably attached to a belief, opinion, or faction, especially one who is prejudiced against or antagonistic toward a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group.

    BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, People of Color. People are using the term to acknowledge that not all people of color face equal levels of injustice. BIPOC is significant in recognizing that Black and Indigenous people are severely impacted by systemic racial injustices.

    Culture: The social behavior and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups.

    Cultural knowledge: Understanding of cultural characteristics, history, values, beliefs and behaviors of another ethnic or cultural group.

    Cultural awareness: Being open to the idea of changing cultural attitudes.

    Cultural sensitivity: Knowing that differences exist between cultures, but not assigning values to the differences.

    Cultural competence: The capacity to bring into its system many different behaviors, attitudes and policies and work effectively in cross-cultural settings to produce better outcomes.

    Diversity: Human differences, such as: ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, (dis)ability, religious or spiritual identity, national origin, political beliefs, etc.

    Equality: To treat everyone the exactly the same.  Often ignores historical and cultural factors that benefit or harm certain social groups.

    Equity: To treat everyone fairly.  Takes into consideration the various systemic oppressions certain social groups face when seeking to render justice.

    Ethnicity: An identity based on learned aspects of oneself, i.e., nationality, language, and culture. This identity may or may not be the same as a person’s national origin.

    Identity: Society and people’s concepts of who they are, what sort of people they are, and how they relate to others.

    Inclusion: Creating a culture where all people feel respected, accepted, and valued.

    Intersectionality: Interconnected nature of social categorizations as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

    Marginalization: The process in which individuals are denied access to various rights, opportunities, and resources that are normally available to members of the dominant culture (e.g., housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, and due process).

    Microaggressions: Interpersonal actions that, regardless of intent, reinforce systems of oppression and contribute to minority stress.

    Oppression: A systemic and institutional abuse of power that causes harm.

    POC: People of Color

    Privilege: A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

    Stereotype: A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person, group or thing.

    White Supremacy culture: An ideology that believes and enforces the idea that white people, the beliefs and thoughts of white people, as well as the actions of white people are superior to those of people of color and their beliefs, thoughts, and actions.  Often expressed as assuming white culture is the “normal” or default culture.  Becomes rooted in systems of power when authority is all or predominantly white.

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