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racial equity movement

Glossary of Key Terms

If you’ve ever had a conversation about race that didn’t go well, it was likely because there was not a shared understanding of what keywords and phrases mean. This often leads to miscommunication and false assumptions.

Here we will establish some definitions of key terms and phrases that will be used throughout MVMT10K. You will find that not every writer and speaker whose work we connect you to in the Learning Pathways is in total alignment in how they define each of these. And that is okay.


  • the active process of identifying and challenging racism, by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices, and attitudes, to redistribute power in an equitable manner


  • behavior actively working to confront and undo the impact of systemic racism and create equity in its place. More than simply “not being racist.”


  • Black, Indigenous and People of Color

Culture of White Supremacy

  • the centering of the White experience and prioritization of the success and well-being of White people over people of color. Another way of thinking about this is the term “value gap.”  This means that White people in America are valued more than people of color.


  • the unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, religion, citizenship status, a combination of those identified, and/or other categories


  • A synonym for variety. A diversity focus emphasizes “how many of these” we have in the room, organization, etc. Diversity programs and cultural celebrations/education programs are not equivalent to racial justice or inclusion. It is possible to name, acknowledge, and celebrate diversity without doing anything to transform the institutional or structural systems that produce, and maintain, racialized injustices in our communities.

Emotional Labor

  • Emotional labor refers to how one manages or regulates emotional expressions with others in a workplace or social setting. In the work of racial justice, some White people expect, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to carry the emotional labor. Learn more here.

Implicit Bias

  • a belief or attitude that affects our understanding, decision, and actions, and that exists without our conscious awareness

Individual Racism

  • An internalized bias that takes place when a person’s beliefs, attitudes, fears, behaviors, and actions are both based on and driven by racial biases/prejudices. Individual/personal racism are the conscious and unconscious beliefs we have that Whiteness is superior.

Institutional Racism

  • The practices that perpetuate racial disparities, uphold White supremacy, and serve to the detriment and harm of persons of color and keep them in negative cycles. Institutional/systemic racism also refers to policies that generate different outcomes for persons of different race. These laws, policies and practices are not necessarily explicit in mentioning any racial group, but work to create advantages for White persons and disadvantages for people of color.

Systemic Racism

  • institutional policies and practices upheld and perpetuated over time that benefit people who are White at the exclusion of people of color

Trauma Dumping

  • Trauma dumping is done in an “unsolicited, unprepared way, where a person dumps traumatic thoughts, feelings, energy onto an unsuspecting person,” whether it be a close friend or a stranger on social media. Learn more here.

White Advantage

  • A leg up, a gain, a benefit that White people have

White Privilege

  • The unearned power and advantages that benefit people just by virtue of being White or being perceived as White. NOTE: White privilege doesn’t mean as a White person you haven’t worked hard for your success and achievements or experienced barriers. It just means that your racial identity is and was not a barrier to your success.

White Supremacy

  • An institutionally perpetuated and ever-evolving system of exploitation and domination that consolidates and maintains power and resources among White people. This system promotes the ideology of Whiteness as the standard and the belief that White people are superior to other races.

a note on feelings these terms may bring up:

If you find that there are particular terms (listed here or in the content we provide) that make you feel guilt or shame, take a moment to try to understand why you are feeling this way. Essentially, all of these terms describe the same phenomena of systemic racism and they will bring up negative feelings.