CARJ / General / Racial Justice Glossary

Racial Justice Glossary


“Lumen Gentium”, the document of the Second Vatican Council, described the Church as the “sign and sacrament of Trinitarian communion”. This communion is a community of diversity that achieves oneness. To help us achieve such a communion in the Church of today, we need to understand the language necessary to negotiate diversity in a respectful way and to know the tools that can create cohesion.

The terminology used when discussing diversity, especially when referencing issues of race and racism, is often a source of anxiety and apprehension. Words are constantly changing, both in their interpretation and acceptability. Consequently, people are often hesitant about exploring these issues, for fear of causing offence, getting it “wrong”, or displaying a lack of knowledge.

The very use of the terms ‘race’ and ‘racial justice’ might seem to suggest an acceptance of the concept of ‘race’, which would not be our intention; we are all, of course, of one race. There’s always been discussion about which term is the most appropriate to describe black people in the UK. Should we be using the term ‘black’ or rather ‘African descent’ or ‘people of colour’ (which is becoming more common in the US)? This will remain an ongoing discussion necessarily guided by the people of the black communities of this country.

Some of these terms and expressions are not new, but have, in recent years, become part of the racial justice lexicon. Despite their common usage, it is important to acknowledge the conflicts that some terms arouse in people. Discussing racial justice issues is an ongoing, open-ended process, and will always be so, but we need clarity in the language used.

This Glossary is not intended to be exhaustive. Because language evolves, it aims to be instructive, rather than prescriptive. We will continue to consider, revise and update this Glossary as necessary.

We hope that it will be an effective tool in building knowledge and awareness of racial justice issues in Britain.

Acculturation and enculturation are processes that racial and ethnic minorities engage in daily. Acculturation is often defined as the array of psychological changes that occurs when members of a minority group adapt into a mainstream group, whereas enculturation is the process by which individuals are socialized into their cultural heritage.

SOURCE: Shufang Sun, William T. Hoyt, Dustin Brockberg, Jaime Lam, and Dhriti Tiwari University of Wisconsin—Madison, Journal of Counselling Psychology © 2016 American Psychological Association 2016

Affirmative Action (USA):
‘Affirmative Action’ in the USA includes policies and practices aimed at overcome the disadvantages of certain groups as a result of past discrimination. In the past affirmative action permitted the use of racial quotas, but the Supreme Court declared that quotas were unconstitutional. Affirmative action now tends to focus on targets and goals (eg Universities recruiting ethnic minorities and providing them with support. Some states in the USA have banned affirmative action.

Ally: Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies understand that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways.

Source: OpenSource Leadership Strategies, “The Dynamic System of Power, Privilege, and Oppression” (2008)

Suggested Reference: CARJ associate, Josephine Numusisi-Riley, runs a “White Allies” initiative, asking white people to be active allies in the fight against racism by doing the work within.

Anti-racism: Anti-racism is a process of actively identifying and challenging racism in any of its forms. The goal of anti-racism is to change the organisational structures, policies and practices, behaviours and beliefs that perpetuate racist ideas and actions.

Anti-racism is rooted in action. It involves taking steps to eliminate racism at the individual, institutional, and structural levels.

Anti-racism is not a new concept. The American political activist, Angela Davis wrote, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”

The Black Lives Matter movement (see below) has increased the focus on the importance of anti-racism.

Suggested Reference: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be an Antiracist

Antiracist: An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity.

SOURCE: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Antisemitism: Discrimination against or hostility and hatred towards Jewish people, whether they be religiously or ethnically defined.

Assimilation: In anthropology and sociology, the process whereby individuals or groups of differing ethnic heritage are absorbed into the dominant culture of a society. The process of assimilating involves taking on the traits of the dominant culture to such a degree that the assimilating group becomes socially indistinguishable from other members of the society. As such, assimilation is the most extreme form of acculturation. Although assimilation may be compelled through force or undertaken voluntarily, it is rare for a minority group to replace its previous cultural practices completely; religion, food preferences, proxemics (e.g., the physical distance between people in a given social situation), and aesthetics are among the characteristics that tend to be most resistant to change. Assimilation does not denote “racial” or biological fusion, though such fusion may occur.

    SOURCE: Encclopedia Britinica Online

SOURCE: Lee Cokorinos, “The Racist Roots of the Anti-Immigration Movement,” The Black Agenda Report (2007).

Asylum seeker: Asylum seekers: are people fleeing persecution in their homeland, have arrived in another country, made themselves known to the authorities and exercised the legal right to apply for asylum. Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum and to remain until the authorities have assessed their asylum application (1951 Convention). Asylum seekers do not come to the UK for economic reasons. The top 10 refugee-producing countries in 2008 all have poor human rights records or are places where war or conflict is on-going.

SOURCE: Institute for Public Policy research 2008

BAME: An acronym standing for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, or Black and Minority Ethnic, used as a shorthand for groups excluded or disadvantaged by racism and xenophobia.

An umbrella term, used to describe non-white ethnicities.

Increasingly, people are speaking out against the term for the way it groups numerous ethnicities together, stripping them of their individual identities. It can be argued that it conveys the idea that whiteness is the norm and all ethnicities exist as an “other”.

BME: An acronym standing for Black and Minority Ethnic (see BAME above)

Belonging: In 1989, Thea Bowman (an African American religious sister and theologian) addressed the Catholic Bishops of the USA to express what it meant to be black and a Catholic. She began by singing the slave spiritual, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child…a long ways from home”. Enabling people to belong requires addressing their significant identities so that they can find frequent and positive expressions of those identities in so many aspects of society. Dina Nayeri, in her book, “The ungrateful Refugee” (2019) spoke of ‘Belonging’ as the dignity of becoming an essential part of a society. She says that this requires reciprocation, is mutual and humble, and is intertwined with multiculturalism, never at odds with it. It is about allowing newcomers to affect you on your native soil, to change you” (p.342).

Black: The positive use of the term ‘Black’ can be traced back to the 1960s when it was deliberately reclaimed as a category or description in a number of campaigns and movements of the decade.

Since then, it has been used as an umbrella term to unite and describe people who have been the subject of, or experienced, racial discrimination on the basis of the colour of their skin. Used in this sense, it is a ‘political’ term and does not necessarily bear any association to actual skin colour.

Black Lives Matter: (Concept) The ideology that seeks to affirm and assert the value of Black lives, seeking equal treatment and justice for Black people, not to the exclusion of people of other races, but in response to the systematic absence or denial of equal treatment and justice for Black people across institutions and policies.

Black Lives Matter (Organisation): A political organisation formed to address systemic violence against Black people in America. Per the Black Lives Matter (US) organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometiï — created a Black-centered political will- and movement-building project called #BlackLivesMatter in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.

The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters.

SOURCE: Black Lives Matter, “Herstory”

The organisation needs to be distinguished from the broader social movement for racial justice.
Saying “Black Lives Matter” is important, said Gloria Purvis, who is African-American broadcaster and author. She stated that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” represents a whole “movement for racial justice,” one which is now global and without one single leader. Using the phrase “doesn’t mean you are now de facto a member of this organization. For me, as a Catholic, a devout Catholic, as a loyal daughter of the Church, I have no problem saying ‘Black Lives Matter,’” she said.

“Broadly, code-switching involves adjusting one’s style of speech, appearance, behaviour, and expression in ways that will optimize the comfort of others in exchange for fair treatment, quality service, and employment opportunities. Research suggests that code-switching often occurs in spaces where negative stereotypes of black people run counter to what are considered “appropriate” behaviours and norms for a specific environment.”

SOURCE: Harvard Business Review

Colonialism: A political-economic phenomenon whereby various European nations explored, conquered, settled, and exploited large areas of the world. The purposes of colonialism included economic exploitation of the colony’s natural resources, creation of new markets for the colonizer, and extension of the colonizer’s way of life beyond its national borders. In the years 1500–1900 Europe colonized all of North and South America and Australia, most of Africa, and much of Asia by sending settlers to populate the land or by taking control of governments. The first colonies were established in the Western Hemisphere by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th–16th centuries. The Dutch colonized Indonesia in the 16th century, and Britain colonized North America and India in the 17th–18th centuries. Later, British settlers colonized Australia and New Zealand. Colonization of Africa only began in earnest in the 1880s, but by 1900 virtually the entire continent was controlled by Europe. The colonial era ended gradually after World War II; the only territories still governed as colonies today are small islands.

Source: Encyclopedia Britanica Online

Modern colonialism did more than extract tribute, goods and wealth from the countries that it conquered –it restructured the economies of the latter, drawing them into complex relationships with their own, so that there was a flow of human and natural resources between colonised and colonial countries (Loomba 1998).

Colourblind racism: A term used to describe the act or practice of disregarding or ignoring racial characteristics, or being uninfluenced by racial prejudice. People often say, “I don’t see colour” as if that is something to be praised. But it isn’t! Lord MacPherson, in the Stephen Lawrence enquiry referred to colour blindness in institutions as one of the forms of Institutional racism. If we are going to treat people equally and fairly, we need to know their particular needs. “This genuine equality requires dropping the pretence of ‘difference blindness’ and allows marginalised minorities to also be visible and explicitly accommodated in the public sphere…so that all can enjoy a sense of belonging.” “Essays in secularism and multiculturalism”, Tariq Modood, 2019, pp.200-201. The concept of colour blindness is often promoted by those who dismiss the importance of race in order to proclaim the end of racism. It presents challenges when discussing diversity, which requires being racially aware, and equity that is focused on fairness for people of all races.

Colourism: Using White skin colour as the standard, colourism is the allocation of privilege and favour to lighter skin colours and disadvantage to darker skin colours. Colourism operates both within and across racial and ethnic group.

SOURCE: Center for the Study of Social Policy (USA)

Country of origin: A country that is a source of a migrant or migratory flows, regular or irregular.

Critical Race Theory: Critical Race Theory recognizes that racism is ingrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture.
The Critical Race Theory movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, and even feelings and the unconscious.

Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces step by step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism and principles of constitutional law.

The Critical Race Theory movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step by step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and principles of constitutional law.

SOURCE: Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, NYU Press, 2001 (2nd ed. 2012, 3rd ed. 2017).

Culture: A social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of people to assure its 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.

SOURCE: Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative, A Community Builder’s Tool Kit, Appendix I (2000).

Culture is not easy to define. It is estimated that there are 170 different definitions. Domains of culture include: ethnic identity, communication, time and space, social organisation, and roles, beliefs and values, nutrition, biological variations, sexuality, reproduction, religion /spirituality, death and dying. Culture defines who I am but also defines who I am not. Culture does not only belong to minority ethnic groups, otherwise it encourages us to focus predominantly on what is different from ‘us’. Yet there is also the danger of ‘difference’ becoming invisible, e.g.: ‘We treat everybody the same’. Culture is dynamic and operates at both individual and structural levels.

Cultural relativism: The idea that a person’s beliefs and practices should be understood based on that person’s own culture. Proponents of cultural relativism also tend to argue that the norms and values of one culture should not be evaluated using the norms and values of another. It was established as axiomatic in anthropological research by Franz Boas in the first few decades of the 20th century and later popularized by his students..

Decolonization: Decolonization may be defined as the active resistance against colonial powers, and a shifting of power towards political, economic, educational, cultural, psychic independence and power that originate from a colonized nation’s own indigenous culture. This process occurs politically and also applies to personal and societal psychic, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression.

The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”

Discrimination: The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion and other categories.
(see Equality Act 2010, below)

Direct, Indirect, Reverse

Direct discrimination
Direct discrimination is when one person is treated worse than another in similar circumstances on the grounds of a protected characteristic.

Indirect discrimination
Indirect discrimination happens when a person or organisation, without good reason, applies a policy or requirement to all which disadvantages a particular group who share a protected characteristic.

Reverse discrimination
Discrimination against a more privileged or dominant group in support of a disadvantaged group. The term is often used to point out the limits of positive action. A policy requiring an employer to hire a certain percentage of protected groups, regardless of merit, would be illegal and might be characterised as ‘reverse discrimination’

Diaspora: “the voluntary or forcible movement of peoples from their homelands into new regions …” There is “a common element in all forms of diaspora; these are people who live outside their natal (or imagined natal) territories and recognize that their traditional homelands are reflected deeply in the languages they speak, religions they adopt, and the cultures they produce.”

SOURCE: Leong Yew, “The Culture of Diasporas in the Postcolonial Web” (quoting Ashcroft et al., Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, and Cohen, Global Diasporas: An Introduction).

Diversity: There are many kinds of diversity, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, country of origin, education, religion, geography, physical, or cognitive abilities. Valuing diversity means recognizing differences between people, acknowledging that these differences are a valued asset, and striving for diverse representation as a critical step towards equity.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI): A term that is used to describe programs and policies that encourage representation and participation of diverse groups of people, including people of different genders, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, religions, cultures, ages, and sexual orientations and people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills and expertise. It is an expansion of the term “diversity and inclusion” (D&I) to reflect the growing focus on equity in organizations.

Ethnic minority group (or Minority ethnic group): This phrase is used to refer to populations other than the dominant majority of a country.

Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioural patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical base.

SOURCE: Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin, Routledge, 1997.

Ethnicity confers the basic identity of an individual, a sense of belonging and a sense of ‘self’. It involves a system of shared meanings developed in a social and economic context within a particular historical and political background. Refers to both issues of structure and identity. There is a tendency to ‘pathologize’ minority ethnic groups. We are all ethnic beings.

Ethnocentrism: Ethnocentrism is a term applied to the cultural or ethnic bias— whether conscious or unconscious—in which an individual views the world from the perspective of his or her own group, establishing the in-group as archetypal and rating all other groups with reference to this ideal.

This form of tunnel vision often results in: (1) an inability to adequately     understand cultures that are different from one’s own and (2) value     judgments that preference the in-group and assert its inherent superiority,     thus linking the concept of ethnocentrism to multiple forms of chauvinism   and prejudice, including nationalism, tribalism, racism, and even sexism and    disability discrimination.

SOURCE: Oxford Bibliographies

Eurocentrism: Describes the relationship between Europe and the ‘Rest’ (S Hall 1992), not simply judging everyone else by one’s own standards but by truly believing itself of being ultimately ‘right’. ‘Whiteness’ for most part becomes an unspoken, central position that is concomitant with ‘normal’. (Dryer 1997). Its authority and power is based on a certain level of absence or invisibility.

Equality: Equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. It is also the belief that no one should have poorer life chances because of the way they were born, where they come from, what they believe or whether they have a disability.

Equality recognises that historically certain groups of people with protected   characteristics (see below) such as race, disability, sex and sexual orientation    have experienced discrimination.

SOURCE: Equality and Human Rights Commisssion

Equity: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), equity is defined as “the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically.”

SOURCE: World Health Organisation

Equality Act 2010: The Equality Act 2010 brought together and strengthened a number of earlier laws to provide a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals within particular vulnerable groups and to advance equality of opportunity for all. The Act prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in employment and in relation to the provision of goods, facilities and services. The Act also establishes a public sector equality duty.

Equality Impact Assessments (EIA): Equality Impact Assessment (“EIA”) is an analysis by an organisation of the impact a new policy or a change to and existing policy will have on protected groups and on the organisation’s ability to live up to its obligations under the PSED. Public Authorities have a duty to assess the impact of new or changing policies; however, they are not required to carry out this assessment in any particular way. This obligation applies in the public sector but not in the private sector.

Global majority: Global Majority is a collective term that refers to people who are Black, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, indigenous to the global south, and or have been racialised as ‘ethnic minorities’. Globally, these groups currently represent approximately eighty per cent (80%) of the world’s population making them the global majority now.

SOURCE: Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE, credited with coining the term “global majority”

GRT: An acronym for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller – broadly referring to various ethnic and/or life-style-characterised groups. Individuals in each of these groups may or may not be commercial-nomadic themselves, regardless of whether they are of nomadic heritage.

Gypsy: Often used to refer to Romani and commercial-nomadic people. The term derives originally from the appropriation by 8th century Byzantine occultists of supposed Zoroastrian Egyptian wisdom after the conquest of Persia by Muslims and the suppression of genuine Zoroastrianisms there. “Egyptian” (from the same root as “Copt” became the label for a kind of entertainment package which included fortune-telling, music and dancing. It was applied to other ethnic groups who did this, probably including Dom. When the ancestors of the Rom arrived in the 11th century it was also applied to them.

The ”Gypsy Stereotype” is thus 2-300 years older then the moderrn form of the Romani language. Nonetheless when Roma fled the turbulent Ottoman Empire into a Western Europe beginning, in the 15th century, to be fractured by developing national identities, it became a convenient term to offer to enquirers who demanded their national identity. Variants of “Egyptian” (Gipsy, Gyupcy, Gitan, Yifti, Kipti etc.) continue to be ethnonyms for groups across Europe. Some people use it in a pejorative way but it is a term that many people use themselves as a form of self-identity.

NOTE. It is NOT a good translation of the word Tsigane/Cigany which has a different etymology and far more negatrive connotations,

Harassment: Unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic (see below), which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

Hate crime: Criminal acts, motivated by bias, that target victims based on their perceived membership in a certain social group. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse, offensive graffiti, letters or email. Hate crime laws enhance the penalties associated with conduct that is already criminal under other laws.

Implicit bias: A mental process that stimulates negative attitudes about people who are not members of one’s own group, which leads to discrimination.
Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness.

SOURCE: Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University.

Inclusion: The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. More than simply diversity and numerical representation, inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation and a true sense of belonging. Inclusive groups by definition are diverse, but diverse groups are not always inclusive. Inclusion ensures respect in words and actions for all people.

SOURCE: Adapted from Annie E. Casey Foundation, Race Equity and         Inclusion Action Guide, 2014

Interculturalism: A system that developed to address some of the perceived problems with multiculturalism. It gives support for cross-cultural dialogue, moving people beyond mere passive acceptance of other cultures to an active engagement with the people of those cultures. This system recognises too certain elements of the majority culture that need to be protected (ie. The French language in Quebec, Canada, or “British values” in the UK). It is a system that focuses more on “interaction” as the primary dynamic for community cohesion, and gives much less importance, if any, to recognising or addressing identity. Ted Cantle (the author of “Interculturalism” 2012) sees this system as eminently secularist, and one that avoids giving power to so-called religious leaders/gatekeepers.

Institutional racism: “The Scarman Report into the Brixton disorders (1981) defined institutional racism narrowly and denied its existence. Almost twenty years later, the Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, headed by Sir William Macpherson, finally looked carefully at the issue of ‘institutional racism’.

The Macpherson Report concluded that ‘institutional racism … exists both in the Metropolitan Police Service and in other Police Services and other institutions countrywide.’ (6.39) Macpherson defined ‘institutional racism’ as: The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people. It persists because of the failure of the organisation openly and adequately to recognise and address its existence and causes by policy, example and leadership. (6.34)

Macpherson then helpfully suggested three types of Institutional racism: the colour-blind approach (I don’t see colour!), the
stereotypical approach and the approach of established groups in the exercise of power.

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales welcomed the Macpherson Report and urged Catholic organisations and institutions to review themselves and ‘look again at how they could better serve minority ethnic communities in our society.’”

SOURCE: From a CARJ briefing on the Report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (7th April 2021)

Suggested reference:

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (March, 2021) was instructed by the Prime Minister to investigate claims of institutional racism following the Black Lives Matter movement. According to the Report:

Integration: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power.

SOURCE: OpenSource Leadership Strategies

An individual or group is integrated within a society when they: • achieve public outcomes within employment, housing, education, health etc. which are equivalent to those achieved within the wider host communities, and • are in active relationship with members of their ethnic or national community, wider host communities and relevant services and functions of the state, in a manner consistent with shared notions of nationhood and citizenship in that society.

SOURCE: Home Office, 2004

Professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw coined this term, as a legal concept, to describe the lived experience in which an individual’s multiple social identities (race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, etc.) intersect and interact, informing the way in which individuals experience oppression in their daily lives, both interpersonally and systemically.

Over time, the concept has expanded to encompass not only intersections of oppression, but also of privilege.

Islamaphobia: A type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.

SOURCE: All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims

Any distinction, exclusion, or restriction towards, or preference against, Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

SOURCE: Runnymede Trust, “Islamophobia: Still a challenge for us all” (November, 2017)

Microaggression: Microaggressions are commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory racial slights. These messages may be sent verbally, (“You speak English so well.”) or non-verbally (clutching one’s purse more tightly around people from certain ethnicities).

The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microagressions might not even be aware of them.

SOURCE: Derald Wing Sue, PhD, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race” (Psychology Today, 17 November 2010).

Migrant: Whilst there is no formal legal definition of an international migrant, most experts agree that an international migrant is someone who changes his or her country of usual residence, irrespective of the reason for migration or legal status. Generally, a distinction is made between short-term or temporary migration, covering movements with a duration of between three and 12 months, and long-term or permanent migration, referring to a change of country of residence for a period of one year or more.

Migration: The movement of people, either across an international border, or within a country, including refugees, displaced persons, economic migrants, and persons moving for other purposes, including family reunification.

There are a number of “pull factors” and “push factors” that influence migration flows:

Pull factors: e.g. job opportunities, availability of housing, education opportunities, and improved quality of life.

Push factors: e.g. poverty, famine, war, revolutions, ethnic cleansing.

Multiculturalism: Multiculturalism is based on the recognition of the dignity of every human being, and its principles are stated in an essay by Charles Taylor, “The Politics of Recognition” (1992). Its’ about being true to one’s nature or heritage and seeking, with others of the same kind, public recognition for one’s shared identity. This ‘identity’ is forever changing but it has an essence (like a human being) that is discovered dialogically (by interaction both with people who share that identity and with those who don’t). It is about enabling people of whatever nature, ethnicity, or heritage to belong.

Multiculturalism focuses on those identities which are necessary (like colour, gender, sexuality or, arguably, religion) and stigmatised.
But there are different systems that would claim to be multicultural but are not always true to Taylor’s principles. Ted Cantle, in his book “Interculturalism” describes three types: defensive, State and progressive. A defensive multiculturalism would be one that focuses on protecting minorities from discrimination and protecting one’s perceived culture. According to Cantle, “State Multiculturalism” is when a State encourages people of different cultures, perhaps unwittingly, to live separate lives. Progressive multiculturalism on the other hand is where real integration takes place and healthy interaction is achieved. Cantle suggests that the model adopted in Britain has been more akin to State Multiculturalism whereas the model adopted in Canada is more of progressive model.

Multiple jeopardy: A concept coined by sociologist Deborah K. King, which points to the inability to identify a single determinant as being most important in explaining oppression.

• The idea of multiple jeopardy also argues that those with multiple minority statuses experience a “multiple consciousness,” which is defined as “an awareness of multiple systems of inequality working with and through one another.” It is essentially a theory of intersectionality, though it is not the definition of intersectionality itself.

    SOURCE:  Wiley Online Library, Black Feminisms

Nationalism: The concept of nation is relatively new, hence Anderson (1992) defined it as ‘an imagined community’ based on national similarity and inclusion. Nationalism is about hegemony; the object of legitimation, the internal hierarchy of industrial society (Jenkins 1997). Yet the challenge here is that most modern day societies are multi- ethnic as a result amongst others of migration or post colonialisms. So whilst holding a legitimate passport identifies a person as British, for example, in reality his/her allegiance may well be shared with other countries. The majority group may have a specific view of what constitute being British, irrespective of the legal status a person will have. This is why Anderson uses the phrase ‘imagined community’. Whilst nationalism may result in a healthy dose of patriotism, if it is used as a concept to identify who belongs in society or note it can thwart the aims and aspirations of minorities (Radcliffe 2004) who may well have a legitimate status and protection of the law.

People of Colour: An American collective term referring to non-White racial groups, which is gaining popularity in the UK. Racial justice advocates in the US have been using the term “people of colour” (not to be confused with the pejorative “coloured people”) since the late 1970s as an inclusive and unifying frame across different racial groups that are not White, to address racial inequities. While “people of colour” can be a politically useful term, and describes people with their own attributes (as opposed to what they are not, e.g., “non-White”), it is also important whenever possible to identify people through their own racial/ethnic group, as each has its own distinct experience and meaning and may be more appropriate.

SOURCE: Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).

Positive action: Positive action is when an employer or service provider takes action, to compensate for the disadvantage of a protected group, in order to overcome their disadvantage – e.g. in advertising jobs, a company might say explicitly that they welcome applications from ethnic minorities.

Prejudice: A pre-judgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative, attitude of one type of individual or groups toward another group and its members. Such negative attitudes are typically based on unsupported generalizations (or stereotypes) that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics.

SOURCE: Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative, A Community Builder’s Tool Kit, Appendix I (2000).

Protected characteristics: Under the Equality Act 2010, protected characteristics include: age, disability, gender reassignmenet, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Public Sector Equality Duty: The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) was created under the Equality Act 2010. The PSED requires public authorities to have ‘due regard’ to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between different groups. The PSED applies to the public sector, but not to the private or voluntary sectors.

Race: A controversial categorization, based mainly on physical attributes or traits, be it skin colour or general physique. Geneticists ascertain that a common gene pool belongs to all human groups. ‘Race’ remains highly contested and is a socially rather than a biologically constructed term. Hence, there is only one race, i.e. the human race.

Racial Justice: Racial justice is the systemic fair treatment of everyone regardless of race to create equitable opportunities and outcomes for all.

SOURCE: Global Citizen     

Racial reconciliation: A process includes at least the following:

  1. Resistance – that those who endure injustice and those who stand with them stand firm in resisting powers of injustice and any forms of oppression that work against the kingdom of God. For the oppressed, resistance is a refusal to play along with the injustice.
  2. Recognition – that those who have participated in perpetuating injustice must acknowledge the injustice and their complicity.
  3. Repentance (and forgiveness) – that the participants in injustice repent to God and to those who have endured the injustice, while the endurers work to forgive.
  4. Repair (and/or repay, replace, restitute) – that the participants in injustice must work to repair damage, repay what was lost, replace what was taken, or restitute for harms committed.
  5. Reconstruction – that there is no true reconciliation when the structure does not change. A new structure should be sought in a way that dismantles the power structure and rebuilds a structure that is just and equitable.
  6. Restored Relationship – that relationships are restored and nurtured in a way that (a) shows a commitment to never allowing the injustice to return and (b) allows the relationship to be evaluated continuously by revisiting the reconciliation process. SOURCE: The United Methodist Church

Racism: Refers to both (1) the ideology that races are populations of people whose physical differences are linked to significant cultural and social differences and that these innate hierarchical differences can be measured and judged, and (2) the micro – and macro – level practices that subordinate those races believed to be inferior.

SOURCE: Ethnicity, race and inequality in the UK : state of the nation

Racisms: New and more subtle forms of racism continue to emerge, derived from the false doctrine of racial differentiation. These new forms of racism are found in different regions, at different times. The various forms of racisms are not mutually exclusive. Ideas and actions related to the perceived ranking and superiority/inferiority of individuals and groups can, and does, move fluidly between these different expressions of racism. Increasingly, particularly within a European context, the phrase racism/s incorporates xenophobia and anti-semitism.

SOURCE: The British Council

Racist: One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or interaction or expressing a racist idea.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Refugee: Someone whose asylum application has been successful and who is allowed to stay in another country having proved they would face persecution back home. If the application for refugee status fails an individual can still stay if it is not safe for them to return. The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law. Some individuals can be in this state for a number of years.

The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that form the basis of Refugee Law. With 149 State parties to either or both, they define the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.

The primary and universal definition of a refugee that applies to States is contained in Article 1(A)(2) of the 1951 Convention, as amended by its 1967 Protocol, defining a refugee as someone who:
“owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

Rom (m), Roma (f), Romni (f): The noun for a Romani person or people in the majority of Romani dialects and in the emerging common Romani. For many, perhaps the majority, of Roma, it also serves as the name of the people.

In some old dialects, however, especially, in England and Spain, the word “Rom” simply means an honourable married man, regardless of ethnicity. The word “Romani”, however, both means “humane, decent” and a member of the ethnic group which speaks, or once spoke, Romani, a language of Indian origin.

The European Union has adopted the word “Roma (sing.)/ Romas (pl.) as a blanket term for all the groups, equivalent to the English GTR. This usage has the advantage that because it is neither accurate nor grammatical in any Romani dialect, it also does not privilege any dialect-group and so is politically neutral.

Social construct: A concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.

SOURCE: Bartmanski, D. “Social construction and cultural meaning: Reconstructing qualitative sociology.” American Journal of Cultural Sociology (2018).

Each society has its own constructs,which determine what is deemed to be acceptable over time or not I.e. deviations from what is considered as normal at a specific time. Managing these deviations can be achieved through two different routes: Social justice (steps need to be taken to reverse or compensate for the inequalities that arise from a particular social arrangement) or Social Order (implies that those who do not conform to accepted norms and standards need to be taught or helped to do so). For example, unmarried mothers, up to the 1950-1960s, were deemed to be highly unacceptable and therefore society tended to see this as having to be managed hence many of them ended up in institutions, forced to have their babies adopted etc. In this case society at that time used social order to address the situation. The interesting thing is to reflect on what causes society to adopt a particular approach or to change from a social order approach to that of social justice. What social constructs are we presently addressing? Homelessness, sex-workers, boat people etc. What approach is society taking to address these challenges?.

Structural racism: Structural racism describes a legacy of historic racist or discriminatory processes, policies, attitudes or behaviour that continue to shape organisations and societies today.

Systemic Racism: Systemic racism applies to interconnected organisations, or wider society, which exhibit racist or discriminatory processes, policies, attitudes or behaviours.

Traveller: This word has some 500 words of history in English to describe individuals or groups who move their place of residence to work or trade in different towns or villages. It is paralleled by similar words in other languages e,g.”resende”.

After the anti-Egyptian genocides in North West Europe in the 16th century, and the continuing anti-vagrancy persecutions of the 17th century, commercial nomads of local and Indian origin tended to organise together for prescription, with varying amounts of Romani and local nomads’ backslang preserved in their dialects. The Romanichals of England and South Wales, the Kale of North Wales, the three dialect groups of Scottish Nawkens, and the two dialect groups of Pavees. Minceirs of Ireland are examples of these mixed heritage Traveller groups.

The word “Traveller” also retains its original English usage as in the terms Commercial Traveller, and New (Age) Traveller, who benefit from English planning provisions for people who travel for a living. It is also used by members of the Showmen’s Guild, who are of a variety of ethnicities.

Over the past twenty years, however, there has been a tendency for some English speakers to use the term pejoratively of Minceirs and Pavees, Irish Travellers who do not fall under the common English usages of “Gypsies” or “Roma”. This is probably a consequence of the emergence of the tripartite portmeanteau term “Gypsies, Travellers and Roma” itself. Tripartite categorisations of ‘Romas’ are very common throughout history in Europe, but they rarely last longer than a few decades, because they always mask the true complexity and continuity of cultural variation,

White fragility: A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable [for white people], triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviours such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviours, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.

SOURCE: Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility”
Suggested reference: Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

White privilege: The unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.
Suggested reference: The Education Select Committee Report (21/06/21) warned against using the term “white privilege” in education, saying it was divisive and likely to “promote disharmony”.

White saviour complex: White saviour complex, sometimes called white saviour syndrome or white saviourism, refers to those who work from the assumption that they know best what Black and minority ethnic communities need. White saviours consider themselves superior, whether they realize it or not.

White supremacy: A historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and individuals of colour by white individuals and nations of the European continent for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.

Windrush: “A former troopship, the ‘Empire Windrush’, which in 1948 brought the first organized party of Caribbean immigrants, many of whom were former British servicemen, to Britain; the term Windrush generation is now used allusively to refer to this group and the period of their arrival.”

SOURCE: The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Xenophobia: A fear or hatred of foreigners

Any attitude, behaviour, practice, or policy that explicitly or implicitly reflects the belief that immigrants are inferior to the dominant group of people. Xenophobia is reflected in interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels of oppression.

SOURCE: Lee Cokorinos, “The Racist Roots of the Anti-Immigration Movement,” The Black Agenda Report (2007).

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