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Equity Terminology

Useful definitions for cultural competency.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY A theory that challenges us to look at the way race and racism impact structures and practices in schools that cause or perpetuate inequality.
CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING ɸ An instructional approach that uses students' culture to accelerate learning. It integrates the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and the varied learning styles of students to make learning more appropriate and effective.
CULTURE The beliefs, practices and norms of a group of people.
DISCRIMINATION Unequal treatment of a person based on their membership in a group. In contrast to prejudice, discrimination is a behavior.
DOMINANT CULTURE Common beliefs, values, and behaviors of privileged groups (white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, wealthy, etc.) that usually go unnamed and are considered the "norm" against which others are measured.
EQUALITY Equality says we treat everyone the same and give them the exact same resources or support, regardless of individual needs or group history.
EQUITY Equity addresses differences and takes into consideration that society has not always given equal treatment to different groups, and every group has not had equal access to opportunities. Equity is treating people differently based on what they need.
ETHNICITY A social construction that indicates identification with a particular group that is often descended from common ancestors. Members of the group share common cultural traits, such as language, religion and dress.
INSTITUTIONAL RACISM The network of institutional structures, policies, and practices that create advantages and benefits for whites, and discrimination, oppression, and disadvantages for people from targeted racial groups.
NATIONALITY One's country of origin or citizenship.
PEOPLE OF COLOR (POC) A term born out of the antiracism movement used to describe nonwhites that is meant to be inclusive among nonwhite groups.
PRIVILEGE Systemic favoring, enriching, valuing, validating, and including of certain social identities over others. Individuals cannot "opt out" of systems of privilege; these systems are inherent to the society in which we live.
RACE Races are socially and politically constructed categories that others have assigned on the basis of physical characteristics, such as skin color or hair type.
RACIAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY Racial/ethnic identity development is how our self-perception is shaped by our experiences in society regarding our group affiliation (i.e. race, gender).
RACISM Institutional power and prejudice which benefits the dominant group and hurts other racial groups. It can be conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional.
STEREOTYPE An overgeneralization based on race, gender, sexual orientation, class, ability, age, and other characteristics that is widely believed about an entire group of people. Stereotypes are impervious to evidence and contrary argument.
WHITE PRIVILEGE A system of unearned benefits afforded to those people classified as white. These advantages are personal, cultural, and institutional and provide greater access to resources and systemic power. 

 All definitions, except where noted, adapted from: The People's Institute NW, Copyright 2014 White Privilege Conference, Wijesinghe, C.L., Griffin, P., and Love, B. (1997). "Racism Curriculum Design". In M. Adams, L. A. Bell, and P. Griffin (eds.), Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook (pp. 82-109). New York: Routledge.

ɸ definition adapted from: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, Zaretta Hammond