Language is powerful, and continues to shape the way we see the world and each other. That is why awareness of key definitions in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) are instrumental in actively participating in systemic change. The following definitions are curated by the H.E.A.R.T. Collective.
Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental and/or emotional ability that contribute to a system of oppression; usually of able‐bodied/minded persons against people with illness, disabilities or less developed skills.
A person who supports and celebrates equity seeking groups, interrupts and challenges oppressive remarks and actions of others, and willingly explores biases within themselves. Being an ally requires action: telling colleagues that their jokes are inappropriate; advocating for the health, wellness, and acceptance of people from underrepresented or marginalized groups. An ally takes action to support people outside of their own group.
Strategies, theories, actions, and practices that actively challenge systems of oppression on an ongoing basis in one’s daily life and in social justice/change work. Anti-Oppression work seeks to recognize the oppression that exists in our society and attempts to mitigate its effects and eventually equalize the power imbalance in our communities. It challenges the systemic biases that devalue and marginalize difference. Oppression operates at different levels from individual to institutional and so does anti-oppression work.
“Systems of oppression are discriminatory institutions, structures, norms, to name a few, that are embedded in the fabric of our society. All the “-isms” are forms of oppression. In the context of social justice, oppression is discrimination against a social group that is backed by institutional power. That is to say, the various societal institutions such as culture, government, education, etc. are all complicit in the oppression of marginalized social groups while elevating dominant social groups.” (SFPRIG)
The active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.
According to Ibram X. Kendi – “The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.’ What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an antiracist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an antiracist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.'” (How To Be An Antiracist, p. 9)
Indigenous peoples in Canada’s experience of racism and its impacts on their daily lives are unique due to the ongoing impacts of colonization. Anti-Indigenous racism is often the underlying cause of many social determinants of health for Indigenous communities.
Acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People Of Colour.
Identifying with the same gender that one was assigned at birth. A gender identity that society considers to “match” the biological sex assigned at birth. The prefix cis- means “on this side of,” in reference to the gender binary model. A term used to identify people who are not trans, and the experiences of privilege granted based on being cisgender.
Colonialism is an intentional process by which a political power from one territory exerts control over a different territory. It involves unequal power relations and includes policies and/or practices of acquiring full or partial political control over other people or territory, occupying the territory with settlers, and exploiting it economically.
A concept that originated and is primarily used in the healthcare domain. The concept emphasizes the power imbalance inherent in the patient/client-practitioner relationship. A culturally safe environment is spiritually, socially, and emotionally safe, as well as physically safe for people; where there is no assault, challenge, or denial of their identity, of who they are, and what they need.
The term was developed by Maori nurse Irihapeti Ramsden in the context of nursing care provided to Indigenous peoples in New Zealand. The term has since been extended and applied to Indigenous peoples in other countries where service inequalities persist. This concept shifts power and authority to the Indigenous patient receiving care, who is given the ultimate say in whether care provided was culturally safe or not. It centres upon sharing: shared respect, shared meaning, and shared knowledge and experience, of learning together with dignity and attention.
The active resistance against colonial powers, and a shifting of power towards political, economic, educational, and cultural independence and power that originate from a colonized nation own indigenous culture. This process occurs politically and applies to personal and societal, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression.
The disability rights movement have made many strides in emphasizing a people first approach to framing disability (e.g. “persons with disabilities” vs. “disabled person”). An anti-oppressive and empowerment model also considers systemic and physical barriers as the primary cause of oppression and marginalization of people who live with disabilities rather than locating the problem with the person.
Working toward fair outcomes for people or groups by treating them in ways that address their unique advantages or barriers.
Equity refers to achieving parity in policy, process and outcomes for historically and/or currently underrepresented and/or marginalized people and groups while accounting for diversity. It considers power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts and outcomes, in three main areas:
The process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of work. More specifically, workers are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with superiors and clients. For many BIPOC individuals, this includes managing feelings and expressions when encountering incidents of racism, white fragility, and microaggressions daily.
A person’s internal and psychological sense of themself as man, woman, both, in between, neither, or another understanding of gender. People who question their gender identity may feel unsure of their gender or believe they are not of the same gender they were assigned at birth
Refers to social roles, structures, language etc. that reinforce the idea that heterosexuality is the presumed norm and is superior to other sexual orientations.
Inclusion is an active, intentional, and continuous process to address inequities in power and privilege, and build a respectful and diverse community that ensures welcoming spaces and opportunities to flourish for all. Workplace Inclusion is an atmosphere where all employees belong, contribute, and can thrive. Requires deliberate and intentional action.
The intertwining of social identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, which can result in unique experiences, opportunities, and barriers. A theory coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to draw attention to how different systems of oppressive structures and types of discrimination interact and manifest in the lives of marginalized people; for example, a queer black woman may experience oppression on the basis of her sexuality, gender, and race – a unique experience of oppression based on how those identities intersect in her life.
Acronym used to refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Two-Spirit (2S) people. Additional letters, or a + sign, are sometimes added to this acronym (i.e. LGBTQ+, LGBTQI2S, etc.). Making fun of the length of this acronym can have a trivializing or erasing effect on the group that this longer acronyms seek to actively include.
Everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to historically marginalized groups by well-intentioned members of the majority group who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent.
A social process by which individuals or groups are (intentionally or unintentionally) distanced from access to power and resources and constructed as insignificant, peripheral, or less valuable/privileged to a community or “mainstream” society. This term describes a social process, so as not to imply a lack of agency. Marginalized groups or people are those excluded from mainstream social, economic, cultural, or political life. Examples of marginalized groups include, but are by no means limited to, groups excluded due to race, religion, political or cultural group, age, gender, or financial status. To what extent such populations are marginalized, however, is context specific and reliant on the cultural organization of the social site in question.
A continuum or spectrum of gender identities and expressions, often based on the rejection of the gender binary’s assumption that gender is strictly an either/or option of male/men or female/women, based on sex assigned at birth. Non-binary can be both a specific term of identification, and/or an umbrella term.
Refers to the social, economic and political advantages or rights held by people from dominant groups on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, social class, etc. Unearned social power (set of advantages, entitlements, and benefits) accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to the members of a dominant group (e.g., white/Caucasian people with respect to people of color, men with respect to women, heterosexuals with respect to homosexuals, adults with respect to children, and rich people with respect to poor people). Privilege tends to be invisible to those who possess it, because its absence (lack of privilege) is what calls attention to it. In other words, men are less likely to notice/acknowledge a difference in advantage because they do not live the life of a woman; white people are less likely to notice/acknowledge racism because they do not live the life of a person of color; straight people are less likely to notice/acknowledge heterosexism because they do not live the life of a gay/lesbian/bisexual person.
The term “racism” specifically refers to individual, cultural, institutional, and systemic ways by which differential consequences are created for different racial groups. Racism is often grounded in a presumed superiority of the white race over groups historically or currently defined as non-white. Racism can also be defined as “prejudice plus power.” The combination of prejudice and power enables the mechanisms by which racism leads to different consequences for different groups.
Occurs between individuals. When private beliefs are put in interaction with others, racism resides in the interpersonal realm. Examples: public expressions of racial prejudice, hate, bias, and bigotry between individuals.
The ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of colour.
An acronym that stands for Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities; often used in institutional settings (i.e. health care or education), SOGI, or SOGI Minorities, is used in place of LGBTQ2S+ acronyms. SOGI may be preferred as it decreases the risk of erasure, since the LGBTQ2S+ acronym omits identities or terms of self-identification. SOGI as an acronym fails to capture the spectrum of romantic orientations, and intersex folk. Alternatives: SGM (Sexuality and Gender Minorities).
The practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups to give the appearance of equality within a workforce.
Historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of colour by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.