This glossary is neither prescriptive or comprehensive. We hope to provide a starting point to explore terms you might encounter in your social justice learning, with the understanding that language, particularly with a mind towards progress, is in flux. While it is not necessary or possible to know everything; it is our responsibility to be curious and recognize our capacity to learn, change, and make amends. This information comes from a compilation of sources that are linked in the longer explanations. There is an allowance for some disparity between descriptions of these terms.

All notes on the time to read a text are based on the calculation of reading 1,000 words in approximately 3.5 minutes.

Some articles/examples of linguistic ableism, etc:
7 Racist Slurs (4-minute read)
Violence in Language (4-minute read)
No Joking Matter: Words and Disability (2-minute read)


abolition, police and prison: Abolition is an organizing tool and an ongoing goal to create a world that uses existing and new practices to stop harm from happening, instead of using the prison industrial complex and punishment as an ‘answer’ to our problems. READ MORE

accomplice: Someone who is mindful of how their privileges add to systemic and institutional racism, who is vocal about stereotypes and racial injustice, who acts to dismantle white supremacy, and who follows the lead of BIPOC. READ MORE

allyship: Making continuous commitments to recognize one’s privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and act in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. READ MORE

anti-fascism: Anti-facism is a political movement in opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals. Antifa is a highly decentralized anti-fascist action and left-wing political movement in the U.S. comprising of autonomous groups and individuals that use of both nonviolent and violent direct action rather than pursuing policy reform. READ MORE

Black Lives Matter: Started as a hashtag in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer and founded by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter is an international movement to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. READ MORE 

Critical Race Theory: A framework to understand the relationships between race, law and power in the United States. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founding scholar of CRT, defines it as “an approach to grappling with a history of white supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it” (source). READ MORE

cultural appropriation: An action by an individual or group where an aspect of another culture or identity, eg. language, dress, architecture, etc., is used outside of its context, with particular regards to historical and present day power dynamics between who is taking this action and from whom they are taking. READ MORE

defund the police: A call to redirect funding away from police departments and into community resources, systems and structures that directly support Black communities and other communities most impacted by police violence and societal injustice/inequity. This movement encompasses a range of opinions by activists and advocates regarding how and to what extent law enforcement agencies should be defunded, and to which community resources funding should be allocated. READ MORE

disability justice: A framework that works to centralize the experiences of disabled people who also experience other oppressed identities and inequities, and whose experiences are not addressed by mainstream disability rights movements. The term was coined in 2005 by a group of disabled queer women of color activists. READ MORE

environmental justice: Environmental justice is a movement in response to environmental racism, which refers to the disproportionate impact of climate change, pollution, and other environmental risks on communities of color. READ MORE

gerrymandering: Gerrymandering is a type of voter suppression used to thwart the will of the majority by tilting the boundaries of legislative districts to a particular political party’s favor. READ MORE

identity politics: An organizing principle based around a group’s lived experience and their collective freedom. READ MORE

intersectionality: A framework for examining the ways in which various structures of inequality (race, gender, etc.) are compounded when a single person or group experiences more than one of these identities. First developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. READ MORE

justice (see disability justice, environmental justice, restorative justice, transformative justice)

land acknowledgement: A statement recognizing the land one is occupying as Indigenous. It is also an invitation to take action regarding the history and current practices of colonialism. READ MORE

mutual aid: An organizational model that works inside and beyond political structures to support a community. READ MORE

racial capitalism: A term coined by Cedric Robinson referring to a modern world system “dependent on slavery, violence, imperialism, and genocide. Capitalism was ‘racial’ not because of some conspiracy to divide workers or justify slavery and dispossession, but because racialism had already permeated Western feudal society.” (source) READ MORE

redlining: A system of discrimination, primarily based, but not limited to race, enacted by both governmental and private sector policy to deny access to property. READ MORE

restorative justice: An approach to healing conflict that brings all parties involved to be accountable for restoring individuals and their community; aspects are based on the practices of various Indigenous communities. READ MORE

settler colonialism: A form of violence that is ongoing so far as settlers are still claiming the land, denying and destroying the social, political, and economic life of Indigenous populations, and using other tactics of domination. READ MORE

transformative justice: Transformative Justice is a socio-political framework that seeks to respond to violence without creating more violence and/or to engage in harm reduction as to lessen or eliminate an environment that enables violence. READ MORE

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