Glossary of Terms

All sources from Kendal, 2017 unless otherwise noted.

Ageism – prejudice and discrimination against people on the basis of age, particularly against older persons.

Assimilation – a process by which members of subordinate racial or ethnic group become absorbed into the dominate culture.

Civic Engagement – means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes. (Source: NY Times)

Critical Race Theory – the belief that racism is such an ingrained feature of U.S. society that it appears to be ordinary and natural to many people. According to this theory, the best way to document racism and ongoing inequality in society is to listen to the lived experiences of people who have encountered such discrimination.

Environmental Racism – the belief that a disproportionate number of hazardous facilities (including industries such as waste disposal/treatment and chemical plants) are placed in low income areas populated primarily by people of color.

Ethnicity – a collection of people distinguished, by others or by themselves, primarily on the basis of cultural or nationality characteristics.

Ethnic Pluralism – the coexistence of a variety of distinct racial and ethnic groups within one society.

Ethnocentric Thinking/Ethnocentrism – The practice of judging all other cultures by one’s own culture. The assumption that one’s own way of life is superior to all others.

Frustration Aggression Hypothesis – states that people who are frustrated in their efforts to achieve a highly desired goal will respond with a pattern of aggression toward others. The object of their aggression becomes the scapegoat.

Gendered Racism – the interactive effect of racism and sexism on the exploitation of women of color.

Homophobia – extreme prejudice and sometimes discriminatory actions directed at gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender persons and other who are perceived as not being heterosexual.

Individual Discrimination – behavior consisting of one-on-one acts by members of the dominant group that harm members of the subordinate group or their property. May be intentional or unintentional. Dominate and Subordinate groups are separated by political power dynamics and access to resources.

Institutional Discrimination – the day to day practices of organizations and institutions that have harmful effect on members of subordinate groups. May be intentional or unintentional.

New Social Movement Theory – Looks at the intersection between a multitude of social issues and the ability to coalesce those issues. For example, Environment Racism.

Political Opportunity Theory – states that people will choose those options for collective action that are most readily available to them and those options that will produce the most favorable outcome for their cause.

Prejudice – a negative attitude based on faulty generalizations about members of specific racial, ethnic, or other groups.

Psychological Assimilation – involves a change in racial or ethnic self-identification on the part of an individual.

Race – A social construct where people are categorized or singled out as inferior or superior, often on the basis of real or alleged physical characteristics such as skin color, hair texture, eye shape, or other subjectively selected attributes.

Racial Equity – is a process of eliminating racial disparities and improving outcomes for everyone. It is the intentional and continual practice of changing policies, practices, systems, and structures by prioritizing measurable change in the lives of people of color. (Source:

Racial Justice – is a vision and transformation of society to eliminate racial hierarchies and advance collective liberation, where Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, in particular, have the dignity, resources, power, and self determination to fully thrive. (Source:

Racism – a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that is used to justify the superior treatment of on racial or ethnic group and the inferior treatment of another racial or ethnic group.

Relative Deprivation Theory – refers to the discontent that people may feel when they compare their achievements with those of similarly situated persons and find that they have less than they think they deserve. This theory also suggests that people who are satisfied with their present condition are less likely to seek social change.

Segregation – the spatial and social separation of categories of people by race, ethnicity, class, gender, and/or religion.

Sexism – the subordination on one sex, usually female, based on the assumed superiority of the other sex.

Split Labor Market – a division of the economy into two areas of employment, a primary sector or upper tier, composed of higher-paid (usually dominant-group) workers in more secure jobs, and a secondary sector or lower tier, composed of lower-paid (often subordinate group) workers with little security and hazardous working conditions.

Structural Assimilation – occurs when members of a subordinate racial or ethnic group gain acceptance in everyday social interactions with members of the dominant group.

Theory of Racial Formation – the idea that actions of the government substantially define the racial and ethnic relations in the United States.