Glossary of Terms and Concepts

ACCESSIBILITY is advanced when barriers are removed, and freedom and support for equitable opportunities for success, achievement and utilization are provided to people with disabilities.

ANTI-RACISM refers to the work of actively opposing discrimination based on race by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life.

BELONGING occurs when there is recognition by each member of a group of the rightful and equally qualified presence and engagement of every member of the group/team/community/organization/institution. It is an outcome that naturally occurs when a truly inclusive environment has been created.

CULTURAL COMPETENCE refers to the ability of an individual or organization to understand how inequity can be (and has been) perpetuated through socialized behaviors and using that knowledge to disrupt inequitable practices; the ability to function effectively and empathetically as an individual and/or as an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by another’s culture.

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

DIVERSITY refers to the presence of different and multiple characteristics that make up individual and collective identities, including race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, language, and physical ability.

EQUITY refers to an intentional and systemic approach to remedy and address historical practices, policies, and structures that have produced distinct disparate outcomes. These inequitable outcomes have resulted in the oppression, marginalization, hindrance to the success of, and restricted access to opportunities and benefits for historically marginalized and oppressed populations. The goal of equity is achievement of equitable outcomes for all populations and social groups.

INCLUSION is more than simply diversity and numerical representation. Inclusion exists when historically oppressed and marginalized groups are empowered to participate in all elements of society in a manner that is culturally relevant to them, and when their full engagement is both welcomed and exercised to the degree that it redefines and helps to shape society and culture. Achievement of true inclusion requires changing or eliminating various historical practices in our  society that limit, hinder, and fail to provide opportunities for members of historically oppressed and marginalized groups to contribute, lead, and influence decisions and outcomes.

MICROAGGRESSIONS are commonplace ongoing verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate or imply hostile or derogatory slights and insults toward culturally marginalized groups. (e.g., asking a person of color, “How did you get your job?” to imply they are not qualified).

SYSTEMIC/STRUCTURAL RACISM is a term used in reference to systems in which policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimension of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with ideology of “whiteness” and disadvantages associations with “color” to ensure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead, it has been a feature of the social economic and political system in which we all exist.