Words and Terms
Language matters. The words and terms you use are important.
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
An international human rights movement, originating in the Black community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward Black people.
All Lives Matter
While Black people certainly believe that every life and person matters, it’s important to know that the phrase “all lives matter” is generally perceived as dismissive and unsupportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was formed to bring more attention to the brutality and injustices committed against Black men, women and children.
Conscious bias is characterized by overt negative behavior that can be expressed through physical and verbal harassment or through more subtle means, such as exclusion.
A prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person or group compared with another, usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair. Biases may be held by an individual, group or institution, and they can have negative or positive consequences.
Studies have shown that workplace bias affects hiring decisions, salaries and, ultimately, career advantages for members of certain groups over others.
The evaluation of a social group, and individuals within that group, based on conceptions about the social group that are held despite facts that contradict it. Prejudice involves both prejudgment and misjudgment. Everyone possesses prejudices.
Overt behavior that treats members of a particular group unequally just because they belong to that group.
The unequal treatment of a person based on race or ethnicity. It takes many forms, may be combined with other forms of discrimination (gender discrimination), and does not necessarily go together with prejudice.
Gender and Sexuality
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender)
This abbreviation, commonly used within the LGBT movement, is essential when talking with LGBT and strongly supportive audiences, but it can confuse people who are unfamiliar with its meaning and alienate those who aren’t yet strong supporters. Try to use lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender on first reference for clarity and inclusion.
Queer is often used as an umbrella term to denote sexual identity within a particular community. A queer community may be made up of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and so on. Some find queer an easy way to describe such a large community.
Gay (adj.), Lesbian (n. or adj.) or Bisexual/Bi (adj.)
Gay is an adjective, not a noun. It’s sometimes used as a shorthand term encompassing gay, lesbian and bisexual orientations (though not transgender people or gender identity). Also, while many lesbians may identify as gay, the term “lesbian(s)” is clearer when referring to a woman or women.
Gender identity or Gender expression
The terms “gender identity” (one’s internal sense of gender) and “gender expression” (how a person outwardly expresses that gender) are not interchangeable.
Cultural expectations for what people should do with their lives, what activities they should enjoy or excel at, and how they should behave based on their gender.
Nonbinary or Gender-nonconforming
Someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female. While comfortable and familiar for many in the LGBT community, these terms can confuse or alienate unfamiliar, conflicted audiences and are seen as insider-speak. Instead, use everyday language to describe these concepts in more relatable ways.
Denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.
The privileges cisgender people have because their gender identity matches their assigned gender, which is considered “normal." For example, cisgender people don’t have to worry about violence and institutionalized discrimination due to the fact they are cisgender.
Used to describe people whose gender identity or gender expression is different from the sex assigned to them at birth. At some point in their lives, transgender individuals decide they must live as the gender they have always known themselves to be, and they often transition to living as that gender.
Taking on the appearance and characteristics associated with a certain gender, usually for entertainment purposes and often to expose the humorous and performative elements of gender.
Privilege and Power
An unearned advantage given by society to some people but not all. Recognizing your own privilege (the ways in which your identity and background have helped you) is a great place to start since it opens the door to empathy and allows people to become more aware of opportunities to use their privilege to be better allies.
Not the suggestion that white people have never struggled. Instead, white privilege should be viewed as a built-in advantage, separate from one’s level of income or effort.
The possession of control, authority or influence over others. Often associated with privilege.
Prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group (typically a minority or marginalized group).
Organizational programs, policies or procedures that work to the benefit of white people and to the detriment of people of color, usually unintentionally or inadvertently.
The interplay of policies, practices and programs of multiple institutions that leads to adverse outcomes and conditions for communities of color compared to white communities. Occurs within the context of racialized historical and cultural conditions.
Actively opposing racism by advocating for political, economic and social change. Antiracist work tends occur in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts.
A member of a group that benefits from privilege and works to end oppression for others and/or make it easier for people with less privilege to gain access to opportunities.
Marginalization and Oppression
Marginalization or Social exclusion
The process by which individuals are blocked from (or denied full access to) various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group and which are fundamental to social integration and observance of human rights within that particular group (e.g., housing, employment, health care, civic engagement, democratic participation and due process).
Pervasive inequality that is present throughout society, benefits people with more privilege and harms those with fewer privileges.
A comment or action that subtly (and often unconsciously or unintentionally) expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group. Examples might be commenting that a Black person “talks white” if they are articulate and eloquent, or moving to the opposite side of a street to avoid interacting with a member of a particular racial group.
The concept that people can be subject to multiple systems of oppression and/or privilege that intersect and interact with one another. For example, an individual’s experience could be shaped by being male and cisgender (privilege) while also Black and gay (marginalized).
A minimal or symbolic effort to advance social justice, often associated with recruiting a small number of people or single people from underrepresented groups to give the appearance of diversity and equality. Because dismantling systems of power is hard work, a commitment to change is important.