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Ideas matter. Language matters. Unity matters. The goal of the Anti-racism Digital Library (ADL) is to describe anti-racism in all its fullness. The ADL/T seeks to fuel the scorching of race and ignite cooperation for justice and peace by discovering and crafting a new vocabulary for describing complex humanity - The International Anti-racism Dictionary-Thesaurus. The Library and Thesaurus can be used in everyday language and for assigning subject headings in library catalogs and databases. Library thesauri use principles of literary and user warrant, meaning that words become authorized (preferred) terms when they are found in a majority of the related content. This Glossary is thus a first step towards developing the Dictionary-Thesaurus. Terms and phrases, when completed, will describe people and anti-racism policies, strategies, and movements, not just in the U.S.A. but in the global arena as well. Findings from the research are used to name the Collections in the ADL. 

Inclusive style guides and Critical Race Theory by Ricardo and Stefancic (2001) are major sources of this Glossary. Please note that the inclusion terms for people are not yet complete and neither is the Glossary. CRT terms are given below in boldface black, including some of its basic tenets. Additionally, the Scriptures of diverse faith traditions, selective texts from Christian liberation theologies, scholarship about anti-racism, comparative religion, human rights, multicultural education, and positive peace are included.  

The ideas about categorization (frames, idealized cognitive models, metaphors, bias, etc.) are influenced by George Lakoff’s Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. 1987.

Some of the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) based on Coleman’s study of The Representation and Treatment of “Anti-Racism” in Bibliographic Information Systems and Knowledge Structures are also listed. They are based on preliminary findings which were reported at the Annual Conference of the American Theological Librarians Association (ATLA), June 2016. Terms and definitions that emerged from the study are listed in green (bold for the term and italics for the definition). You will see both green and black colors when it is a blend of both CRT and Coleman. LCSH which can be used when indexing ‘anti-racism’ materials are highlighted in purple type. (Note: Colors are not visible on the ADL/T web page).

The 2015 edition of the Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms is also a source for people group names as is the Library of Congress Subject Headings. 

Laura Cheifetz's keynote and handout with the Full Cycle of Mission graphic is used for a few definitions and relationships, specifically: Mission, Reparation, Structural Oppression and the examples in Advocacy, Human Services, and Investment.

Other disciplines and domains are being investigated - notably theology, interfaith, positive peace, alternative to violence project, anti-racism but may not yet be here,

Feedback is invited. If you would like to contribute terms and definitions, or participate in any other way in the development of the vocabulary or the library, please contact Anita Coleman [charis dot coleman at gmail dot com]. 

Alphabetical List of Terms 

Advocacy examples More affordable housing; immigration reform (Laura Cheifetz Full Cycle of Mission graphic)

Affirmative action (United States)

Alternative dispute resolution

Ambiguity: emerging quality of visible identity characteristics favored by some.

Antiessentialism (see Essentialism, also Intersectionality)


Anti Anti-racism - a conservative anti-racism stance, a belief that anti-racism is not needed, and often expressed in the form of rhetorical strategies

Anti-racialism is the silencing of racism and is opposed to anti-racism

Anti-racism - "the policy of opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance." From, The Oxford English Dictionary (online). From the LCSH: Anti-racism (May Subd Geog) – Here are entered works on beliefs, actions, movement,s and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism.

Anti-racism is some form of focused and sustained action, that involves a mix of peoples and groups (i.e.  they come from different cultures, faiths, speak diverse languages, etc. in short, intercultural, interfaith, multi-lingual, inter-class, and inter-abled) with the intent to change a system or an institutional policy, practice, or procedure which has racist effects. Two examples of anti-racist organizations are Presbyterian Women and the American Library Association. Coleman (2016)

Anti-racist identity =Share Power, Eliminate/Uncover Prejudice, Examine Privilege

Asian whiteness


Bicultural education: Pedagogical approach that encourages retention of a child’s original or family culture


Binary paradigm of race: Pattern of framing race issues in terms of two categories, such as black and white.

Biological view of race: Once popular view that humanity is divided into four or five major groups, corresponding to objective and real physical differences

Black (and variations such as Blackness) – has been accepted as group identity as well as socially constructed.

Blaxican - a person of mixed heritage that includes Africa, United States of America and Mexico.  "Walter Thompson-Hernandez often sees a reflection of himself in the stories his camera captures. Boldly staring into the lens of his camera, Black Mexican, or Blaxican, men and women slowly unveil a bit of themselves to him.... As the child of an African-American father and a non-black Mexican mother, the stories resonate with Thompson-Hernandez who started the Instagram page as an academic research project for the University of South Carolina, but found himself personally drawn to the project to understand the complexities of race and ethnicity in a country that often sees both as one and the same thing." This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address:"http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Blaxican-The-Revolutionary-Identity-of-Black-Mexicans-20150724-0001.html".

Call to context: Belief that social relations and truth require close attention to history, particularity, and experience



Civic Engagement

Colorblindness is the idea of “I don’t see color, I treat all people alike.”An anti-racism stance acknowledges the existence of different skin colors and color differences but does not value or place them on a hierarchy (see also property of whiteness). All colors are beautiful.

Color imagery: Words, texts, and television images that associate skin color with traits such as innocence, criminality, or physical beauty

Colorism refers to the universal preference for lighter colored skin across the world. Combined with color imagery, we begins to see how much of the symbolism and metaphors in our faith and other social traditions contribute to myths such as: Light skin must be shielded from the sun; dark bodies flourish under the sun.  Two questions (among many) that need to be further investigated are: What, if any, are the evolutionary advantages of  pale, light, white?What are the mythologies associated with color that have impacted human equity?  


Communications justice


Countermajoritarianism: View that the court system is free to strike down laws enacted by the majority that are unfair to minority groups

Counter-storytelling: Writing that aims to cast doubt on the validity of accepted premises or myths, especially ones held by the majority

Critical legal studies: Legal movement that challenged liberalism from the Left, denying that law was neutral, that every case had a single correct answer, and that rights were of vital importance

Critical race theory – Ricardo Delgado and Jean Stefancic. 2001. Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. New York University Press.

Critique of rights: Critical legal studies position that rights are alienating, ephemeral, and much less useful than most people think


Culture - Sociologists define culture as the values, beliefs, behavior, and material objects that constitute a people's way of life. In Macionis, John. Sociology. Sixth edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1997. page 62.

Cultural appropriation

Cultural competence 

Cultural Humility (LCSH)

Cultural identity
Cultural proficiency

Cultural racism

Dalits (Bangladesh, India, Nepal)

Deconstructionism: Intellectual approach that targets traditional interpretations of terms, concepts, and practices, showing that they contain unsuspected meanings or internal contradictions

Determinism: View that individuals and culture are products of particular forces, such as economics, biology, or the search for high status

Differential racialization: process by which racial and ethnic groups are viewed and treated differently by, mainstream society

Diaspora (and related terms such as Asian Diasporas)

Dignity see Human Rights, Human Dignity

Digital justice see Detroit Digital Justice Coalition


Discourse: Formal, extensive, oral or written treatment of a subject; the way we speak about something


Diversity (vs Multiculturism)

Double consciousness (W.E.B. DuBois)

Empathy is at the heart of anti-racism and the struggles for justice

Empathetic fallacy: Mistaken belief that sweeping social form can be accomplished through speech and incremental victories within the system

Endemic racism - one of the tenets of Critical Race Theory


Essentialism: the search for the unique essence of a group, the proper unit, or atom, of social analysis and change. The question, do all oppressed people have something in common lies at the heart of the Essentialism/Antiessentialism debate.  Essentialism has a political dimension. Essentialism is paring something down until the heart of the matter stands alone.

Ethnic global linkages

Ethnicity is a shared cultural heritage. Members of an ethnic category have common ancestors, language, or religion that, together confer a distinct social identity. In Macionis, John. Sociology. Sixth edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1997. page 321

Eurocentricism: tendency to interpret the world in terms of European values and perspectives and the belief that they are superior

Exceptionalism: belief that a particular group’s history justifies treating it as unique.

Exceptionality: is a term in multicultural education which is applied to students with specialized needs or disabilities


False consciousness: phenomenon in which oppressed people internalize and identify with attitudes and ideology of the controlling class



Global church



Hegemony: Domination by the ruling class, and unconscious acceptance of that state of affairs


Human rights (LCSH)

Human services are the services provided by anti-racists, churches and organizations. Support Food Pantry; Start a Feeding Program


Hypodescent: “One-drop rule” that holds that anyone with any degree of discernible African ancestry is black

Hypocognition means there is no established frame, no fixed ideas already out there for the other side, that is the lack of ideas and the lack of a relatively simple fixed frame that can be evoked by a word or two. A conceptual gap.  

Idealized cognitive models


Immigrant analogy: belief that racialized minority groups, especially Latinos/as and Asians, will follow the same path of assimilation as white European ethnics

Inclusion, Inclusivity

Individual mindfulness

Information institutions – Cultural heritage institutions such as archives, libraries, museums and knowledge structures for intellectual access such as the library catalog, electronic indexes and databases, classification schemes, authority lists, subject headings and thesauri.  

Inter-able: inclusive of all people of varying levels of human abilities (e.g intellectual, cognitive, or physical disabilities, legally blind, etc.)  


Interfaith dialog

Interpersonal mindfulness

Indeterminancy: idea that legal reasoning rarely, if ever, has one right answer and that politics and social pressures on judged influence outcomes

Institutional mindfulness

Institutional racism/sexism

Institutional transformation


Interest convergence: Thesis pioneered by Derrick Bell that the majority group tolerates advances for racial justice only when it suits its interest to do so 

Intersectional invisibility

Intersectionality: Belief that individuals and classes often have shared or overlapping interests or traits

Investment anti-racist examples include end food deserts, provide temporary support housing (Laura Cheifetz, Full cycle of Mission graphic)

Law - beyond conflict resolution to building peace

Legal realism: Early-twentieth-century forerunner of critical legal studies, which disavowed mechanical jurisprudence in favor of social science, politics, and policy judgment

Legal storytelling: Scholarship that focuses on the theory or practice of unearthing and replacing underlying rhetorical structures of the current social order, insofar as these are unfair to disenfranchised groups

Legitimacy: Quality of an instruction, such as law, which is viewed as justified and worthy of respect

Liberalism: Political philosophy that holds that the purpose of government is to maximize liberty; in civil rights, the view that law should enforce formal equality in treatment

Lingucism - refers to Lingusitic Human Rights, which are a growing area of study and combines the study of language as a central dimension of ethnicity, aliong with national and international law.


Merit: Individual worthiness; critical race scholars question the view that people may be ranked by merit and that distribution of benefits is rational and just.

Microaggression: Stunning small encounter with racism, usually unnoticed by members of the majority race.

Migration (and variants, migrants)

Mindfulness - has two parts, discernment and compassion when linked to social justice and diversity - from Angela Harris, Reflections on Mindfulness, Social Justice, and Diversity, see the YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX-FwdahiLg

Minorities (don't use this term!) have two major characteristics: First, they share a distinctive identity. Second, is subordination (U.S. minorities typically have lesser income, lower occupational prestige, and more limited schooling than their counterparts in the majority. ... class, race, and ethnicity, as well as gender, are not mutually exclusive issues but are overlapping and reinforcing dimensions of social stratification." Macionis, John. Sociology. Sixth edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1997. page 322.  


Mixed race

Model minority myth: Idea that Asian Americans are hard-working, intelligent, and successful and that other groups should emulate them.


Movement building

Multi-cultural competency

Multicultural education refers to any form of education or teaching that incorporates the histories, texts, values, beliefs, and perspectives of people from different cultural backgrounds. At the classroom level, for example, teachers may modify or incorporate lessons to reflect the cultural diversity of the students in a particular class. In many cases, “culture” is defined in the broadest possible sense, encompassing race, ethnicity, nationality, language, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, and “exceptionality”—a term applied to students with specialized needs or disabilities. Generally speaking, multicultural education is predicated on the principle of educational equity for all students, regardless of culture, and it strives to remove barriers to educational opportunities and success for students from different cultural backgrounds. Source: http://edglossary.org/multicultural-education/

Multi-culturism - “Multiculturalism means more than racial balance and inclusion. All members of the community must be competent to communicate with each other for an effective multicultural process… The goals of multicultural competency are increased understanding, respectful communication, and full inclusion of all people, not cultural competence by itself.” From, Uprooting Racism, Paul Kivel, 2002, p. 226. (See also the definition of Multi-cultural education)


Multiple consciousness: Ability of people of color to perceive something in two or more ways, for example as a way a member of his or her group would see it and as a white would.

Mutual invitation - is a process articulated by Eric Law in his book The Wolf Shall Lie with the Lamb. URL: http://www.kscopeinstitute.org/mutual-invitation/ 



Normative: Of, pertaining to, or based on a norm, especially one regarded as broad or universal.

Nuance theory: View that one may determine the essential qualities of a group such as women, and that difference from that essential core may be treated as slight variations or shades of difference.

Pan (e.g. Pan-Islamic)

Paradigm: Reigning system of belief in a discipline that controls what is seen as possible, relevant, and valid.


Perspectavalism: Belief that a person’s or group’s position or standpoint greatly influences how they see truth and reality.

Pluralism is a state in which racial and ethnic minorities are distinct but have social parity. Macionis, John. Sociology. Sixth edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1997. page 329. See the Pluralism Project by Diana Eck and others at Harvard Divinity School’s Andover Harvard Theological Library for a more nuanced and detailed definition as well as resources, research, and glossary. 



Principle of involuntary sacrifice: The notion that costs of civil rights advances are always placed on blacks or low-income whites.


Property interest in whiteness: Idea that white skin and identity are economically valuable.

Psychological wage (Dubois) 

Race - "the idea that the human species is divided into distinct groups on the basis of inherited physical and behavioral differences. Genetic studies in the late 20th century refuted the existence of biogenetically distinct races, and scholars now argue that “races” are cultural interventions reflecting specific attitudes and beliefs that were imposed on different populations in the wake of western European conquests beginning in the 15th century." Source: Encyclopedia Britannica. According to John J. Macionis, author of one of the classical textbooks for undergraduate college courses, Sociology (6th edition, Prentice-Hall, 1997), "A race is a category composed of people who share biologically transmitted traits that members of a society deem socially significant. ... Although in the United States we readily distinguish "black" and "white" people, research confirms that our population is genetically mixed... In short, no matter what people may think, race is no black-and-white issue." (page 320)

Race as a social construction - this is another of the tenets of Critical Race Theory

Racial and ethnic identity

Racial dialogue

Racial equity 

Racial ethnic

Racial fraud & box checking: Action on the part of a non-minority person, or one with a very slight connection with a minority group, to gain the benefit of minority status, as with affirmative action.

Racial healing

Racial idealist

Racial justicejustice for all the different ‘races’ (people groups of varying skin color, ethnicity, etc.)

Racial realism: View that racial progress is sporadic and that people of color are doomed to experience only infrequent peaks followed by regression. 

Racial realist

Racial reasoning - Cornell West, Race Matters, chapter on The Pitfalls of Racial Reasoning

Racialization - the process of making a race such as Latino/Hispanic; in the US Census 2020 MENA - middle eastern and north African people (now considered white) will become a separate category (no longer considered white)



Reconstruction: Period when society is attempting to redress racial wrongs consistently and in thoroughgoing fashion.

Reparation is an anti-racism process, a relationship with equity. What Does Anti-racism have to do with equity? By Joy Bailey, Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training cited by Laura Cheifetz, keynote at Missions Connections, Presbytery of Los Ranchos, 6 Feb. 2016.

Resilience - building up resilience in the face of injustice and suffering

Restorative justice

Restrictive covenant: Legally enforceable limitation on land use or occupancy, often created by the original owner or developer of neighborhoods.


Reverse discrimination: Discrimination aimed at the majority group.

Revisionist: View of history or an event that challenges the accepted one.

Scientific racism

Social Justice

Social stratification


Stock stories: Tales that a people commonly subscribe to and use to explain their social reality; for example, that African Americans who try hard will be accepted and succeed.

Structural determinism: Concept that a mode of thought or widely shared practice determines significant social outcomes, usually without our conscious knowledge.

Structural racialization

Structural racism - Racism has been institutionalized and is deeply enculturated in our national life, our systems, our laws, our culture, our words, images, vocabulary, attitudes, and preferences. Racism is part of a web of inter-connected forces that are also maintained and perpetuated by the information institutions.

Superstar syndrome

Survivor's guilt

Systemic racism also known as institutional racism


Transnational (Transnationalism)

Transparency phenomenon: Ability of whiteness to disguise itself and become invisible.

Tribal frontier


Universal church


Voices of color - another of the tenets of Critical Race Theory

White Anglo Saxon Protestants (WASPs) 

White blindspot

White ethnics - gained currency during the 1960s recognizing visible ethnic heritage and social disadvantages of white Americans without non-English European ancestry. Paraphrased from Macionis, John. Sociology. Sixth edition. New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1997.  In Chapter 12, Race and Ethnicity. Sub-heading: White Ethnic Americans, page 344.   

White Privilege

Whiteness - "Racism is based on the concept of whiteness — a powerful fiction enforced by power and violence. Whiteness is a constantly shifting boundary separating those who are entitled to certain benefits from those whose exploitation and vulnerability to violence is justified by their not being white." Source: Uprooting Racism by Paul Kivel. URL: http://www.utne.com/arts/uprooting-racism-ze0z1304zcalt

Witness bearing (Christianity)