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The following terms and phrases are commonly used in educational and racial equity texts. Some of them are used in the framework. Note: this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather supportive to learning.

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Accomplice Across Difference

A person not from the same affinity group as you with whom an honest, open, and communicative relationship is built fostering discussions leading toward the goals of educational equity (Source. Race & Equity in Education Seminars: Glossary of Commonly Used Words and Ideas).


A group of people who choose to meet to explore a shared identity such as race, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation. These groups gather both formally and informally in school, community, and workplace settings. For the purpose of Race and Equity in Education Seminars, groups are designated based on racial affinity, broken first into ‘Dominant Culture/White Affinity’ and ‘People of Color Affinity’ groups. These groups can be further broken down into smaller groups within the two major affinities (Source. Race & Equity in Education Seminars: Glossary of Commonly Used Words and Ideas).


Anti-blackness, or the socially constructed rendering of black bodies as inhuman, disposable, and inherently problematic, endures in the organizational arrangement and cultural ethos of American social institutions, including her K–12 schools, colleges, and universities. The origins of anti-blackness are rooted in plantation and chattel slavery, and its logics endure to the present day (cited in Chezare A. Warren & Justin A. Coles (2020) Trading Spaces: Antiblackness and Reflections on Black Education Futures, Equity & Excellence in Education).


The work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts (Race Forward. Race Reporting Guide). An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an anti-racist policy through their actions or expressing anti-racist ideas. This includes the expression or ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need to be developed, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity (Ibram X Kendi, How to be an Antiracist, Random House, 2019).



Connotes something fundamental about how groups are positioned within society, as well as how they are perceived and regarded. It reflects an objective position of power and resources as well as the intersubjective nature of group-based identities (Othering and Belonging Institute, 2019).



“People come together to conceptually develop and create things/Things that respond to certain matters of concern and create a (better) future reality. People come together despite, or because of, their different agendas, needs, knowledge and skills. The task may involve academics, practitioners and communities of place/interest that work together in order to make sense of certain situations and conceptually develop ideas into solutions” (Connected Communities: Co- design as Collaborative Research 2018).

Community Indicator

The means by which we can measure socioeconomic conditions in our communities. All community indicators should be disaggregated by race, if possible (Government Alliance for Race & Equity. Advancing Racial Equity & Transforming Government: Resource Guide).


Discrimination based on skin color, which often privileges lighter-skinned people within a racial group and positions people with darker complexions at the bottom of the racial hierarchy. Colorism is an example of how White supremacy can operate amongst the members of a single racial or ethnic group. This form of prejudice often results in reduced opportunities for those who are discriminated against, and numerous studies have revealed differences in life outcomes by complexion (Race Forward. Race Reporting Guide).

Cultural Competence

A process of learning that leads to the ability to effectively respond to the challenges and opportunities posed by the presence of social-cultural diversity in a defined social system (National Multicultural Institute. “Diversity Terms” 2003).

Cultural Relativism

The ability to understand a culture on its own terms and not to make judgments using the standards of one’s own culture.


Social systems of meaning and custom that are developed by a group of people to assure their adaptation and survival. These groups are distinguished by a set of unspoken rules that shape values, beliefs, habits, patterns of thinking, behaviors, and styles of communication. Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative (A Community Builder's Tool Kit. Diaspora “The Culture of Diasporas in the Postcolonial Web” Leong Yew).



Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender—the groups that most often come to mind when the term "diversity" is used—but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values (UC Berkeley Center for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, Glossary of Terms).



A social construct which divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical base. (Adams, Maureen, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin, Eds. Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook. New York: Routledge, 1997).


Making false assumptions about others based on our own limited experience.


Future State

The equitable future, especially with a focus on race relations, you hope to foster through your change idea and other strategies.



Anyone in an institutional or organizational role or position who can grant or deny access to institutional resources or equity. Gatekeepers are, by structural design, accountable to the institutions they work for, and not the people they serve. They function as buffers between their institutions and the community (Washington University. Racial Equity Glossary).

Gender identity

A person’s individual and subjective sense of their own gender; gender identities exist in a spectrum, and are not just masculine and feminine. (Carthage College. Glossary of Working Language or Conversation).

Greatest-needs groups

Groups of people who have been historically and presently marginalized due to systems of oppression and resource inequity. These groups include, and are not limited to, English Learners; students with diverse learning needs; Students in Temporary Living Situations; and African-American, Latinx, LGBTQ, and low-income students (UIC Great Cities Institute. CPS Hardship Index).


Implicit Bias

Also known as unconscious or hidden biases, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold and express automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real- world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics (State of the Science Implicit Bias Review 2013, Cheryl Staats, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University).


Being included within a group or structure. More than simply diversity and quantitative representation, inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation, with a true sense of belonging and full access to opportunities (Race Forward. Race Reporting Guide).


The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage (Washington University. Racial Equity Glossary).



Students or groups who have been/are oppressed or marginalized and have received less resources. Liberation: A state of being in which one is free from ALL forms of oppression; liberation can be both personal and communal with a deep connection to one’s self, body, mind, and spirit. We believe collective liberation is possible when we work at the individual, interpersonal, and institutional level (Young Women Envisioning Liberation: Move to End Violence).


Opportunity gap

An inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities, which sustains achievement differences.


A system of discrimination whereby the characteristics of a group are used to distinguish them as separate from the norm (2009) Key Concepts in Political Geography.



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 they are taught not to see it, but nevertheless, it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it (Colors of Resistance Archive Accessed June 28 2013).



A powerful social idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. Race is not biological, but it is real. A political construction created to concentrate power with White people and legitimize dominance over non-White people.

Racial Equity

A combination of processes, initiatives, and outcomes that eliminates all forms of racial oppression and co-creates conditions that enable those most impacted by structural inequity to reach their full potential centering their agency. If the processes and initiatives don’t achieve the outcomes of racial equity.

Racial Microaggressions

Brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.

Root Cause

The deepest underlying cause or causes of positive or negative symptoms within any process that, if dissolved, would result in elimination or substantial reduction of the symptom.



Unity or agreement based on shared interests and objectives; long-term mutual support within and between groups.

Structural Racism

A history and current reality of institutional racism across all institutions, combining to create a system that negatively impacts communities of color (Government Alliance for Race & Equity. Advancing Racial Equity & Transforming Government: Resource Guide). Institutional racism is expressed in the practice of developing 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 (Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative).


Undue Burden

A significant difficulty or expense used in United States constitutional law. Result(s) of decisions benefit some (winners) and burden others (losers) (CUE REIA).

This downloadable PDF includes the Equity Framework and interactive worksheets.

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