There are a lot of buzzwords floating around social circles, digital platforms, and media outlets using terminology associated with social justice and human rights. While, for the most part, I have come across these terms used correctly, there are the occasional articles or conversations where people are misunderstanding the meaning and using the words incorrectly. I have created an informational guide with 41 common words focusing on racism, used when referring to humanitarian acts/ social justice in hope to equip you with the knowledge to learn more and integrate the correct meanings into your daily living. Think of this as your social justice vocabulary unit!

Click the link below to download the terms and learn them as a memory game
or flashcards, for free.

Racial Equality Focused Vocabulary:

To start, it’s important to understand what “social justice” is and what it is not. Social justice is “the objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognized and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest”. Social justice is not a movement or pursuit co-inciding with a specific country/countries, race, religion, political party, or socio-economic group. Social justice is the ideology and pursuit of equalizing all lives, ensuing ever person has the freedom and access to fair living in an unbiased and unprejudiced form. That being said, specific countries, races, regions, political parties, and socio-economic groups can pursue this with their bias, striving to ensure social justice is ensured by the means in which they deem “equal”, therefore creating certain worldwide misconceptions of social justice or misrepresented understandings of what the movement is/ looks like.

Abolition

The action of abolishing a system, practice, or institution.

Activism

The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

Advocacy

1. Public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.

1.1 The profession or work of a legal advocate.

Agression

1. Hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another; readiness to attack or confront.

1.1 The action or an act of attacking without provocation.

1.2 Forceful and sometimes overly assertive pursuit of one’s aims and interests.

Ally

1.A person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.

1.1 A state formally cooperating with another for a military or other purpose

Anti-racism

The policy or practice of opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance.

Assimilation

The absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture.

Bias

Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

Bigotry

Intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.

Colorblind Racism

The belief that racism is no longer a problem and that we all have equal opportunities. People who subscribe to colorblind explanations claim they do not see the color of people’s skin and believe everyone to be equal.

Confederacy

A term for Confederate States of America, also called the Southern Confederacy, and refers to 11 states that renounced their existing agreement with others of the United States in 1860–1861 and attempted to establish a new nation in which the authority of the central government would be strictly limited and the institution of slavery would be protected.

Culture

The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.

Cultural Appropriation

The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.

Cultural Competence

Loosely defined as the ability to understand, appreciate and interact with people from cultures or belief systems different from one’s own.

Diversity

The practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.

Discrimination

The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Ethnicity

The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.

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Equality

The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

Inclusiveness

Including or covering all the services, facilities, or items normally expected or required.

Intersectionality

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.

Internalized Opression

See these free downloadable resources for understanding:

Internalized Racism: A Definition

Understanding Internalized Oppression: A Theoretical Conceptualization of Internalized Subordination

Justice

The quality of being fair and reasonable.

Ku Klux Klan “KKK”

An extremist right-wing secret society in the US.

The Ku Klux Klan was originally founded in the southern states after the Civil War to oppose social change and black emancipation by using violence and terrorism. Although disbanded twice, it re-emerged in the 1950s and 1960s and continues at a local level. Members disguise themselves in white robes and hoods and often use a burning cross as a symbol of their organization.

Microagression

A statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.

Misrepresentation

The action or offense of giving a false or misleading account of the nature of something.

Oppression

The state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.

Overrepresentation

Having representatives in a proportion higher than the average

Privilege

A right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.

Protest

An organized public demonstration expressing strong objection to an official policy or course of action.

Race

The idea that the human species is divided into distinct groups on the basis of inherited physical and behavioral differences.

Racial Profiling

The discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Criminal profiling, generally, as practiced by police, is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime. 

Racism

A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Free Downloadables:

Representation

The act or action of representing the state of being represented: such as one person standing for another so as to have the rights and obligations of the person represented.

Representative

Standing or acting for another especially through delegated authority: of based on, or constituting a government in which the many are represented by persons chosen from among them usually by election.

Riot

A tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent.

Social Class

A division of a society based on social and economic status.

Systemic

A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.

Systematic

Done or acting according to a fixed plan or system; methodical.

Underrepresentation

Provide with insufficient or inadequate representation.

White Privilege

Inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice.

White Supremacy

The belief that white people constitute a superior race and should therefore dominate society, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other racial and ethnic groups, in particular black or Jewish people.

*All definitions are sourced can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


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