Racial Justice Glossary

Racial Justice Institute

The term “racial justice” seeks solutions to provide equitable outcomes for all through personal and professional participation in dismantling systemic, social, and institutional barriers. Racial justice confronts issues of race in the distribution of access, opportunities, treatment, and outcomes.

Affirmative Action - A set of procedures designed to eliminate unlawful discrimination among applicants, remedy the results of such prior discrimination, and prevent such discrimination in the future.

While the concept of affirmative action has existed in America since the 19th century, it first appeared in its current form in President Kennedy's Executive Order 10925 (1961): "The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.

Antiracism - Antiracism is the active process of identifying and dismantling policies, procedures, systems, and other barriers that promote racism and oppression.

Discrimination - The unjust or prejudicial treatment of members of various groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion and other categories.

Diversity - Individual differences (e.g., personality, prior knowledge, 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); it also is used to refer to different ideas, backgrounds, experiences perspectives, and values.

Ethnicity - A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base.

Equity - The creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented or marginalized populations to have equal access to or participate in society.

Implicit Bias - Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.

Inclusion - Inclusion is the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement of all diverse individuals and populations in the workplace or society in ways that foster equal access to opportunities and resources.

Individual Racism - Individual racism refers to the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. Individual racism can be deliberate, or the individual may act to perpetuate or support racism without knowing that is what he or she is doing.

Institutional Racism - Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.

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

Intersectionality - Coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality describes how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another and overlap.

Microaggression - 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.

Macroaggression - Large-scale or overt aggression toward those of a different race, culture, gender, etc.; contrasted with microaggression.

Opression - The systematic suppression of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group.

Privilege - Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because we’re taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.

Racism - a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race; (updated) a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles; a political or social system founded on racism.

Racial Justice - the systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all; racial justice goes beyond diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism because it proactively reinforces policies, procedures, attitudes, and actions that produces equitable distribution of access, opportunities, treatment, power, and outcomes for all.

Racial Battle Fatigue - The physical and emotional exhaustion people of color experience resulting from everyday micro or macroaggression, frequently being asked to serve in diversity, equity, inclusion capacities within an organization, or when positioned as learning commodities to educate others on their personal and professional experiences.

Racial Orthodoxy - The reframing of race in terms that are compatible with organizational and political demands often organized by organizational elites that often neglects race and racism

Social Justice - Social justice imposes a personal and social responsibility to participate, design, and continuously work on ourselves and our institutions to provide equitable outcomes for all. Often used interchangeably (social and racial justice), the two have distinct meanings, approaches and outcomes.

Racial Healing - Racial healing is a process we can undertake as individuals, in communities and across society as a whole. In healing, we recognize our common humanity, acknowledge the truth of past wrongs and build the authentic relationships capable of transforming communities and shifting our national discourse.

White Fragility - Robin DiAngelo introduced white fragility to describe the feelings or frustrations (often defensiveness and discomfort) White individuals experience when they witness or are engaged in discussions around racial inequality and injustice. Although white fragility is not racism, it may contribute to racism by dismissing notions of white privilege.

White Immunity - White immunity implies that White people are immune from injustices and inequities People of Color experience. White immunity distinguishes itself from White privilege because immunity suggests that it is not about privilege, but rather systemic racism that suppresses opportunities for communities of color that White people are immune to.

White Supremacy - The idea (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 (sometimes conscious or unconscious). Drawing from critical race theory, 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.