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Vocab Class:
anti-racism and other words we all need to understand now

This month, one vocab word is not enough. Here are 10 racial justice terms to help us better understand ourselves, our world, and how we can improve on both.

anti-racism (n.)   the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts. (Race Forward)

BIPOC (n.)   acronym for Black, Indigenous & People of Color

cultural appropriation (n.)   theft of cultural elements for one’s own use, commodification, or profit — including symbols, art, language, customs, etc. — often without understanding, acknowledgement, or respect for its value in the original culture. Results from the assumption of a dominant (i.e. white) culture’s right to take other cultural elements. (Colours of Resistance Archive)

decolonization (n.)   the active resistance against colonial powers, and a shifting of power towards political, economic, educational, cultural, psychic independence and power that originate from a colonized nations’ own indigenous culture. This process occurs politically and also applies to personal and societal psychic, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression. (A Vision for Black LivesThe Movement for Black Lives)

diaspora (n.)   the voluntary or forcible movement of peoples from their homelands into new regions...a common element in all forms of diaspora; these are people who live outside their natal (or imagined natal) territories and recognize that their traditional homelands are reflected deeply in the languages they speak, religions they adopt, and the cultures they produce. (The Culture of Diasporas in the Postcolonial Web)

microagression (n.)   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. (Psychology Today)

performative allyship (n.)   making statements or showing solidarity for mere appearances, without having done anything to address the issue at hand or to dig deeper. (Global News)  "The performatively woke person takes up a lot of space. The ally makes space. It’s a crucial difference." Eric Peterson

privilege (n.)   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. (Colours of Resistance Archive)

tokenism (n.)   presence without meaningful participation. For example, a superficial invitation for participation without ongoing dialogue and support, handpicked representatives who are expected to speak for the whole (socially oppressed) group (e.g. “tell us how women experience this issue”). Tokenism is often used as a band-aid solution to help the group improve its image (e.g. “we’re not racist, look there’s a person of color on the panel.”). (Colours of Resistance Archive)

White fragility (n.)   a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable [for white people], triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. (Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility)

Did you learn anything new today? I learned a whole lot just compiling this list and can recognize examples in my own life. Thanks to the Racial Equity Tools glossary for pointing to most of these sources.



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