Common Language

To better understand the dynamics at play, learn these terms and follow the links to gain more in-depth insight.

  • Ally Behavior – Active behavior by a member of a dominant group (in the case of racism, by a white person) to dismantle the oppression of a target group (in the case of racism, people of color).
  • BIPOC - The acronym BIPOC stands for 'Black, Indigenous, People of Color'.  Read more from New York Times.
  • Implicit Bias – Prejudices or stereotypes that we are not aware of which impact decisions, understanding and actions .
  • Microaggressions – Microaggressions are defined as the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.   The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microaggressions might not even be aware of them.  Read more from NPR.
  • Privilege – Unearned benefits that accrue to dominant groups based upon skin color, gender, sex, class, ability, religion, etc.; awards or advantages given to dominant groups without earning and/or asking for them. Privilege is usually invisible to the receiver.  
  • Racial Trauma – Racial trauma or race-based stress comes from dealing with racial harassment, racial violence, or institutional racism. Racial trauma can result from major experiences of racism such as workplace discrimination or hate crimes, or it can be the result of an accumulation of many small occurrences, such as everyday discrimination and microaggressions. It is often compared to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as the symptoms are similar with irritability, hypervigilance, and depression.
  • Stereotypes – A stereotype is any thought widely adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of behaving intended to represent the entire group of those individuals or behaviors as a whole.  These thoughts or beliefs may or may not accurately reflect reality. (Judd & Park, Psychological Review.)
  • Systemic Racism – Also called structural racism or institutional racism, this term refers to the complex interactions of culture, policy, and institutions that create and maintain racial inequality in nearly every facet of life for people of color.
  • Upstander - A person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied. (Oxford Dictionary)

Have a question you would like to share or term you would like added? Please contact Ann Foley.