A is for Activism

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A is for Activism
by Yemayá Williams

In the words of Angela Davis, “Diversity without changing the structure, without calling for structural formation, simply brings those who were previously excluded into a process that continues to be as racist, as misogynist as it was before.” Inequality in America is institutional, with systems of oppression woven into the status quo. We’ve seen, with time, a consistent modification: from slavery, to Jim Crow, to the prison industiral complex. It’s because of people like Angela Davis and the Black Panther Party exercising their agency in oppressive situations that the progress we’ve seen has been made. As there is still a long way to go, it is now on us to keep fighting. Whether it is bravely standing up for ourselves or using our privileges to stand up for others, it is important that we continue to hold those in power accountable and address these power imbalances that continue to favor white, straight, cis, able bodied males over everyone else who is seen as the ‘other.’ The ability to use one's privilege or one's agency to advocate for others should be accessible, not kept in some ivory tower of big academic words no one understands. Here is a terms list so that we may all start off on the same foot in our discussions. This is how we dismantle inequalities imposed upon us and unlearn the value system ingrained in us  over the course of our whole lives, whether we have been aware of it or not. 

Terms List:
  1. Ableism: a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often operates on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other
  2. Activism: the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change. Includes protests, demonstrations, strikes, sit-ins, etc. 
  3. Ageism: stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination agasint people on the basis of their age
  4. Agency: the capacity of individuals to act independently and make their own free choices
  5. Anti-Semitism: holding the belief that Jewish people are inferior; engaging in or condoning behavior hostile towards Jews because they are Jewish. Includes religious teachings and political efforts, as well as individual action. 
  6. Bias: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair 
  7. Cisgender: relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birthsex 
  8. Classism: prejudice or discrimination based on actual or percieved social class; systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups; the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class
  9. Colorblind: the damaging racial ideology that attempts to end discrimination via treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture or ethnicity; demonstration of white privelege and the ability of white people to ignore racism and systemic disadvantage in American life and also ignore a defining aspect of someone’s identity  
  10. Colorism: prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group; the valuing of lighter skin tones and the degredation of darker skin tones within races. Relates to the dominant ideology of eurocentric beauty standards. See term: Implicit Bias 
  11. Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, espescially on the grounds of race, age or sex 
  12. Diversity: the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.; having a variety of social identities that spend time in shared spaces, communities, institutions or society 
  13. Domination: the ability of a particular social identity group to marshal social resources toward one’s own group and away from others; this process can often be rendered invisible
  14. Elitism: the belief or attitude that individuals who form an elite—a select group of people with an intrinsic quality, high intellect, wealth, special skills or experience—are more likely to be constructive to society as a whole and therefore deserve influence or authority greater than others; members of the upper class become biggest influence in society 
  15. Emotional Labor: the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job—more specifically, workers are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers and superiors. (see: google it) 
  16. Empathy: the ability to sense other people’s emotions and the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling; the ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions beyond sympathy
  17. Equality: the state of being equal in status, rights, and opportunities 
  18. Equity: fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups; implies that an individual may need to experience or recieve something different (not equal) in order to maintain fairness, access and justice; under the assumption and reality that we all haven’t had equal access, treatment or outcomes 
  19. Ethnocentrism: evaluating other cultures by one’s own cultural standards, the tendency to view and judge other groups and cultures from the perspective of one’s own 
  20. Explicit Bias: the attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level; are able to be articulated 
  21. Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of political, economic and social equality of the sexes. See term: Intersectional 
  22. Google It: what your first go to action should be when confusion arises or one wants to educate themselves on things to know about institutional oppression and marginalized groups instead of demanding the emotional labor of marginalized people. 
  23. HBCU: Historically Black College and University 
  24. Hegemony: the ability of a dominant or ruling group to impose its own values and ideas about what is natural or normal on a subordinate group, often defining the parameters of what is even considered an acceptable topic within the dominant discourse; values and ideas are widely known often go unquestioned 
  25. Heteronormative: denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation 
  26. Implicit Bias: when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge; held by all but are difficult to articulate as it is unconscious  
  27. Inclusion: the act of creating an environment in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued in their full participation; embraces differences 
  28. Intersectionality: all aspects of social and political identities (gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc) discrimination overlap; markers of identity do no act independantly of one another, but exist simultaneosly, creating a complex web of privlege and oppression. Further reading
  29. Marginalized: when a minority or sub-group is excluded and their needs or desires are ignored; a person or group treated as insignificant on the individual and institutional level; when people are labeled as outside of the norm and are pushed to to the edge of society by not being allowed a place within it
  30. Microaggression: the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons solely based upon their marginalized group membership; often subtle  
  31. Mixed Race: relating to people whose parents or ancestors are from different ethnic backgrounds (sometimes referred to as biracial or multiracial) 
  32. Nonbinary: relating to a gender that is not defined in terms of traditional binary oppositions such as male and female 
  33. Oppression: the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control 
  34. Other: the idea of labeling others as different, wrong and/or inferior by distancing their humanity from oneself by focusing on all the ways they are perceived to be different from one’s own self image 
  35. Patriarchy: a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it 
  36. People of Color: a person who is not white or of European descent; not as substitute for specific race markers but for when talking about people of color in terms of diverse groups, marginalization in general, etc.
  37. Privilege: a special, unearned advantage or entitlement, used to one’s own benefit or to the detriment of others—often, the groups that benefit from it are unaware of it; based on established institutions and societal norms and applies to dominant social groups (i.e white privilege, male privledge, straight/cis privelege, able bodied, etc). 
  38. Prejudice: preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience 
  39. PWI: Predominantly White Institution 
  40. Queer: an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not homosexual or are not cisgender, applies to the LGBTQIA+ non-normative spectrum; reclaimation of what has been historically used as a slur 
  41. Race: a social construct that is real in its consequences; the idea that the human species is divided into distinct groups on the basis of inherited physical and behavioral differences; a classification of human beings created by White people originally from Europe which assigns human worth and social status using the White racial identity as the archetype of humanity for the purpose of creating and maintaining privilege, power and systems of oppression 
  42. Racism: the combination of individual prejudice and individual discrimination, on one hand, and institutuonal policies and practices, on the other, that result in the unjustified negative treatment and subordination of members of racial or ethnic groups that have experienced a history of discrimination; requires power imbalance but does not require intention and is institutional/systematic in its oppression
  43. Sexism: prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex 
  44. Stereotype: a widely held but fixed,oversimplified or false image or idea of a particular person or thing; an overgeneralization assigned to a whole group
  45. Supremacy: the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power or status
  46. Transgender: relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex 
  47. Whiteness: refers to a set of cultural practices that are unmarked and unnamed (not racialized); held as the norm that every other race is compared to (ex. Black man referred to as a “Black man” but White man only referred to as “man”) 
  48. White fragility: the state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress triggers defensive moves or emotions such as anger or guilt
  49. World view: a mental model of reality—a comprehensive framework of ideas and attitudes about the world, ourselves and life, a system of beliefs and personally customized theories about the world and how it works; our perspective on the world made up of deep rooted and (sometimes) unconsciously held beliefs, values, ideas and life philosophies 
  50. Xenophobia: fear or dislike of other races, cultures, ways of life, people from other countries and people not similar to one’s own, rooted in ignorance

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