Skip to Main Content

Anti-Racism Resources

Words Matter

When talking about racism and speaking out against it, it is important to be as specific and clear about with the terms we use. The language surrounding racism and anti-racism work can be confusing and many of the frequently used terms may be unfamiliar to people just starting to explore and engage in anti-racism work. In fact, not everyone participating in anti-racism work agrees on all definitions or preferred terms. The language surrounding anti-racism work is rapidly evolving including preferred terms, spelling, and capitalization conventions. Remember a good guiding principle is that individuals and groups get to decide how they are identified. 

We've complied a list, or glossary of common terms and definitions that will be useful as you engage with anti-racism and anti-oppression work. The list is presented in alphabetical order. 


  1. Ableism: A system of superiority and discrimination that provides or denies resources, agency, and dignity based on one’s abilities (mental/intellectual, emotional, and/or physical.) Ableism depends on a binary, and benefits able-bodied people at the expense of disabled people. Like other forms of oppression, ableism operates on individual, institutional and cultural levels.AVP


  1. Ally: is a member of an oppressor group who works to end a form of oppression which gives him or her privilege. Allyship is a process and everyone has a lot to learn. Allyship involves a lot of listening … Sometimes, people say ‘doing ally work’ or ‘acting in solidarity’ with reference to the fact that ‘ally’ is not an identity but an ongoing and lifelong process that involves a lot of work. Optical Allyship (May 2020) is performative allyship! Anti-racism Glossary

  2. Anti-oppression: The process of making one’s views of the world large enough to include everyone—looking for ways to make connections among different people’s struggles and finding ways to think about how issues affect different people in different ways. It means not just not accepting ‘norms,’ ‘isms’ and oppressive dynamics, but actively working to make the invisible visible, and challenging the systems that hold them in place. Also, an anti-oppression analysis acknowledges that all forms of oppression are linked and that the best way to organize against oppression is to take into account that all oppressions are linked. AVP


  1. Anti-Racism: Being antiracist is fighting against racism. Racism takes several forms and works most often in tandem with at least one other form to reinforce racist ideas, behavior, and policy. Types of racism are: Individual racism ... interpersonal racism ... institutional racism ... structural racism. No one is born racist or antiracist; these result from the choices we make. Talking About Race


  1. Anti-Racist: "One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea."  -How to Be an Antiracist, Chapter 1, by Ibram X. Kendi

  2. Black Lives Matter: BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives. Black Lives Matter


  1. Colorblindness: is the racial ideology that posits the best way to end discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity. At its face value, colorblindness seems like a good thing—really taking MLK seriously on his call to judge people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. It focuses on commonalities between people, such as their shared humanity. However, colorblindness alone is not sufficient to heal racial wounds on a national or personal level. It is only a half-measure that in the end operates as a form of racism. Psychology Today

  2. Discrimination: "Discrimination takes place the moment a person acts on prejudice.  This describes those moments when one individual decides not to give another individual a job because of, say, their race or their religious orientation.  Or even because of their looks (there's a lot of hiring discrimination against "unattractive" women, for example).  You can discriminate, individually, against any person or group, if you're in a position of power over the person you want to discriminate against.  White people can discriminate against black people, and black people can discriminate against white people if, for example, one is the interviewer and the other is the person being interviewed." Source: Daily Kos, Why There's No Such Thing as Reverse Racism

  3. Diversity:  the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

  4. Intersectionality: An approach to anti-oppression work that recognizes that people belong to many identity groups with various degrees of privilege and oppression, and that their needs, experiences, and social positions are found at these “intersections.” All oppression is connected; we cannot fight against one without fighting all and we must focus our efforts on those most marginalized. This idea is most often cited in understanding the intersections of gender, race, and class; a white, middle-class woman experiences misogyny and sexism in a very different way that a working-class woman of color. Key Words

  5. Marginalized/Marginalization:   when social structures and social institutions are used to disadvantage those who are not perceived as part of the dominant group. These individuals are often denied equal access to resources and become vulnerable to further exploitation and social exclusion. (Source: University of Central Florida, Social Justice Terminology:

  6. Microaggressions: 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. In many cases, these hidden messages may invalidate the group identity or experiential reality of target persons, demean them on a personal or group level, communicate they are lesser human beings, suggest they do not belong with the majority group, threaten and intimidate, or relegate them to inferior status and treatment. Microaggressions are rooted in ideologies such as racism, classism, sexism, cissexism, ableism, ageism, heterosexism, colonialism, as well as other discriminatory belief systems. AVP

  1. Multiracial: Consisting of, representing, or combining members of more than one racial group.  Dictionary

  2. Oppression: Institutionalized power that is historically formed and perpetuated over time that allows certain ‘groups’ of people to assume a dominant position over ‘other groups’ and this dominance is maintained and continued at an institutional level.This means oppression is built into institutions like government and education systems. It gives power and positions of dominance to some groups of people over other groups of people. 

    Systems of oppression are built around what are understood to be “norms” in our societies. A norm signifies what is “normal,” acceptable, and desirable. “The norm” is something that is valued and supported in a society. It is also given a position of dominance, privilege and power over what is defined as non-dominant, abnormal and therefore invaluable or marginal. Norms are also considered to be stable or unchanging over time. AVP
  1. Power: Access to resources and to decision makers to get what you want done, the ability to influence others, the ability to define reality for yourself and potentially for others. Power can be visible, hidden, or invisible. Power can show up as power over others, power with others, and/or power within. OpenSource
  1. Prejudice: Prejudice is an unjustified or incorrect attitude (usually negative) towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a social group. Source:  McLeod, S. A. (2008). SimplyPsychology

  2. 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. (Source: Colors of Resistance Archive:

  3. Racism:  a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

  4. Racist: "One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea."  How To Be an Antiracist, Chapter 1, by Ibram X. Kendi

  5. Social Justice: Social Justice is a process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action." Berkeley Social Welfare - Social Justice Symposium:

  6. Stereotype Threat: A phenomenon that occurs when there is the opportunity or perceived opportunity for an individual to satisfy or confirm a negative stereotype of a group of which she is a member. The threat of possibly satisfying or confirming the stereotype can interfere with the subject’s performance in a variety of tasks, including but not limited to academic performance. Stereotype Threat

  7. Systemic Racism: In many ways “systemic racism” and “structural racism” are synonymous. If there is a difference between the terms, it can be said to exist in the fact that a structural racism analysis pays more attention to the historical, cultural and social psychological aspects of our currently racialized society. The Aspen Institute


  1. Systemic Racism: A combination of systems, institutions and factors that advantage white people and for people of color, cause widespread harm and disadvantages in access and opportunity. One person or even one group of people did not create systemic racism, rather it: (1) is grounded in the history of our laws and institutions which were created on a foundation of white supremacy; (2) exists in the institutions and policies that advantage white people and disadvantage people of color; and (3) takes places in interpersonal communication and behavior (e.g., slurs, bullying, offensive language) that maintains and supports systemic inequities and systemic racism.  Education Glossary Terms


  1. White Fragility:  White fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as tears, argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to...White Fragility. (from DiAngelo, White Fragility)

  2. White Privilege/White-Skin Privilege:Sometimes, referring to others as "white" or self-identifying as "white," may feel a little like we are reinforcing the problematic categories of "race" we are trying to deconstruct. At the same time, we want to signal that we recognize that even as race categories are a problematic social construction, racism, and the benefits that white-skinned people experience, are very real (for example, it might mean the difference between getting a lease on an apartment or not). One way to live with, or move through, this problem is to refer to white-skin privilege, or to white privilege—the unearned privileges that white people experience (often unconsciously) because they are not subjected to racism. CCLRC


  1. 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. 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." 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. For more, go to the white supremacy culture page