PCC Diversity Definitions


Is the system of oppression that disadvantages people with disabilities and advantages people who do not currently have disabilities. Like other forms of oppression, it functions on individual, institutional, and cultural levels (Griffin, Peters, & Smith, 2007). Ableism is not solely about the experiences of people with disabilities as targets of discrimination, but rather about the interaction of institutional structures, cultural norms, and individual beliefs and behaviors that together function to maintain the status quo and exclude people with disabilities from many areas of society. (Adams, et al.)


Behaviors and attitudes based on the assumption that adults are better than young individuals, and entitled to act upon young individuals without their agreement.


Prejudiced thoughts, stereotyping and discriminatory actions based on differences in age; usually that of younger persons against older.

Accomplice (actions)

The actions of an Accomplice are meant to directly challenge institutionalized racism, colonization and white supremacy by blocking or impeding racist people, policies and structures. Actor [actions]: Do not disrupt the status quo, much the same as a spectator at a game, both have only a nominal effect in shifting an overall outcome.


An ally is typically a member of advantaged social groups who uses social power to take a stand against injustice directed at targeted groups (Whites who speak out against racism, men who are anti-sexist). An ally works to be an agent of social change rather than an agent of oppression. (Adams, et al.)

Brave Space

Honors and invites full engagement from folks who are vulnerable while also setting the expectation that there could be an oppressive moment that the facilitator and allies have a responsibility to address.


A person who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth. "Cis" is derived from the Latin word meaning "on the same side." A cisgender person is not transgender. As an example, if a doctor said "it's a boy!" when you were born and you identify as a man, then you could probably be described as cisgender.

Cis Sexism

Systemic prejudice in the favor of cisgender people rooted in the belief that there are only two genders (men and women) and that gender is inherently tied to one's sex assigned at birth. It holds cisgender individuals as superior to transgender individuals, and punishes or excludes those who don't conform to society's expectations of gender.


A system of power and privilege based on the accumulation of economic wealth and social status. Classism is the mechanism by which certain groups of individuals, considered as a unit according to their economic, occupational, or social status, benefit at the expense of other groups.


Various processes by which members of the dominant cultures or groups assimilate members of target groups, reward them, and hold them up as models for other members of the target groups. Tokenism is a form of co-optation.

Critical Race Theory

A critical race theory in education challenges the dominant discourse on race and racism as they relate to education by examining how educational theory, policy, and practice are used to subordinate certain racial and ethnic groups. There are at least five themes that form the basic perspectives, research methods, and pedagogy of a critical race theory in education: 1. The centrality and intersectionality of race and racism 2. The challenge to dominant ideology 3. The commitment to social justice 4. The centrality of experiential knowledge 5. The interdisciplinary perspective

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Culturally responsive pedagogy facilitates and supports the achievement of all students. In a culturally responsive classroom, reflective teaching and learning occur in a culturally supported, learner-centered context, whereby the strengths students bring to school are identified, nurtured and utilized to promote student achievement


A social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of individuals to assure its adaptation and survival. These groups are distinguished by a set of unspoken rules that shape values, beliefs, habits, patterns of thinking, behaviors and styles of communication. (IDR) [anthropological/sociologist: culture is comprised of four components: symbols, language, norms and values/beliefs.]


A person experiences disability when impairment substantially limits a major life activity, or when there is a history or perception of such a limitation. In a medical model, disability refers to abnormalities documented within the person. The solution is to accommodate the individual. In a social or cultural model, disability is recognized as a result of the interaction between the person and the environment. The solution is to proactively remove barriers. In practice, a person may be disabled in some environments, but not in others. 


Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations). (AAC&U)


The belief that disabled individuals are inferior to nondisabled individuals, leading to discrimination toward and oppression of individuals with disabilities and physical differences (Miller, Parker, and Gillinson, 2004)


A social construct which divides individuals into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base. Examples of different ethnic groups are: Cape Verdean, Haitian, African American (Black); Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese (Asian); Cherokee, Mohawk, Navaho (Native American); Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican (Latino); Polish, Irish, and Swedish (White). (Adams, et al.)


Takes into consideration the fact that the social identifiers (race, gender, socio-economic status, etc.) do in fact affect equality. In an equitable environment, an individual or a group would be given what was needed to give them equal advantage. This would not necessarily be equal to what others were receiving. It could be more or different. Equity is an ideal and a goal, not a process. It ensures that everyone has the resources they need to succeed.

Gender Expression

The manner in which any individual’s gender identity is expressed, including, but not limited to, through dress, appearance, manner, or speech. Examples of gender expression include but are not limited to femininity, masculinity, and androgyny.

Gender Identity

The manner in which any individual experiences and conceptualizes their gender, regardless of whether or not it differs from the gender culturally associated with their assigned sex at birth. Gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.


Assuming every person to be heterosexual therefore marginalizing persons who do not identify as heterosexual. It is also believing heterosexuality to be superior to homosexuality and all other sexual orientations.


Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power. Inclusion at PCC encompasses individuals and practices that align with PCC’s mission and values.

Intercultural Competency

A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.


Refers to your own individual (focus is on the self) race and culture you identify most with.

Imposter Syndrome

Refers to individuals' feelings of not being as capable or adequate as others. Common symptoms of the imposter phenomenon include feelings of phoniness, self-doubt, and inability to take credit for one's accomplishments. The literature has shown that such imposter feelings influence a person's self-esteem, professional goal-directedness, locus of control, mood, and relationships with others

Internalized Homophobia

Among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals, internalized sexual stigma (also called internalized homophobia) refers to the personal acceptance and endorsement of sexual stigma as part of the individual's value system and self-concept. It is the counterpart to sexual prejudice among heterosexuals

Internalized Oppression

The process whereby individuals in the target group make oppression internal and personal by coming to believe that the lies, prejudices, and stereotypes about them are true. Members of target groups exhibit internalized oppression when they alter their attitudes, behaviors, speech, and self-confidence to reflect the stereotypes and norms of the dominant group. Internalized oppression can create low self-esteem, self-doubt, and even self-loathing. It can also be projected outward as fear, criticism, and distrust of members of one’s target group.

Internalized Racism

When individuals from targeted racial groups internalize racist beliefs about themselves or members of their racial group. Examples include using creams to lighten one’s skin, believing that white leaders are inherently more competent, asserting that individuals of color are not intelligent as white individuals, believing that racial inequality is the result of individuals of color not raising themselves up “by their bootstraps” (Jackson & Hardiman, 1997)


An approach largely advanced by women of color, arguing that classifications such as gender, race, class, and others cannot be examined in isolation from one another; they interact and intersect in individuals’ lives, in society, in social systems, and are mutually constitutive. Exposing [one’s] multiple identities can help clarify they ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For example, a Black woman in America does not experience gender inequalities in exactly the same way as a white woman, nor racial oppression identical to that experienced by a Black man. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life.


A way of describing any attitude, action or institutional structure that subordinates (oppresses) a person or group because of their target group, color (racism), gender (sexism), economic status (classism), older age (ageism), religion (e.g. Anti-Semitism), sexual orientation (heterosexism), language/immigrant status (xenophobism), etc. (Institute for Democratic Renewal) (Adams, et al.)

Lines of Difference

A person that operates across lines of difference is one that welcomes and honors perspectives from others in different racial, gender, socioeconomic, generational, regional [listing is not exhaustive] groups than their own.


Discrimination or prejudice based upon an individual’s appearance.


Commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory racial slights. These messages may be sent verbally ("You speak good English."), nonverbally (clutching one's purse more tightly) or environmentally (symbols like the confederate flag or using American Indian mascots). Such communications are usually outside the level of conscious awareness of perpetrators.


Communications that subtly exclude, negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color. For instance, white individuals often ask Asian-Americans where they were born, conveying the message that they are perpetual foreigners in their own land.


Verbal and nonverbal communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person's racial heritage or identity. An example is an employee who asks a colleague of color how she got her job, implying she may have landed it through an affirmative action or quota system.


Conscious and unconscious attitudes and behaviors directed towards a subordinate group coupled with the power and privilege of the advantaged group and manifested at individual, cultural, and institutional levels.


A prejudgment or preconceived opinion, feeling, or belief, usually negative, often based on stereotypes, that includes feelings such as dislike or contempt and is often enacted as discrimination or other negative behavior OR: A set of negative personal beliefs about a social group that leads individuals to prejudge individuals from that group or the group in general, regardless of individual differences among members of that group.


Unearned access to resources (social power) only readily available to some individuals as a result of their social group.

Privileged Group Member

A member of an advantaged social group privileged by birth or acquisition, examples: Whites, men, owning class, upper middle class, heterosexuals, gentiles, Christians, non-disabled individuals.


A social construct that artificially divides individuals into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly skin color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation or history, ethnic classification, and/or the social, economic, and political needs of a society at a given period of time. Scientists agree that there is no biological or genetic basis for racial categories. (Adams, et al.)

Racial Equity

Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial identify no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them


A system of advantage based on race and supported by institutional structures, policies and practices that create and sustain advantages for the dominant white group while systematically subordinating members of targeted racial groups. This relative advantage for Whites and subordination for individuals of color is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms, and values and the institutional structures and practices of society. (Adams, et al.)


Spaces that are created by and for members of groups that seek support and the opportunity to just “be” in the context of the culture, institutions, environments that they must interact within.


Is a supportive, non-threatening environment that encourages open-mindedness, respect, a willingness to learn from others, as well as physical and mental safety. 


A system of advantages that serves to privilege men, subordinate women, denigrate women-identified values and practices, enforce male dominance and control, and reinforce forms of masculinity that are dehumanizing and damaging to men. (Adams, et al)

Sexual Orientation

Any individual’s romantic, emotional, and/or physical attraction to or lack of attraction to other persons. Sexual orientation is distinct from a person's gender identity and expression and exists on a continuum rather than as a set of absolute categories.

Social Justice

Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole. The goal of social justice education is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs. Social justice includes a vision of society that is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. (Adams, et al.) [Social justice is both a goal and a process]


An undifferentiated, simplistic attribution that involves a judgment of habits, traits, abilities, or expectations and is assigned as a characteristic to all members of a group regardless of individual variation and with no attention to the relation between the attributions and the social contexts in which they have arisen.


Is an irrational fear of, and/or hostility towards, individuals who are transgender or who otherwise transgress traditional gender norms. It is often associated with homophobia

White Supremacy

White supremacy is a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and individuals of color by white individuals and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.


Is a broad social construction that embraces white culture (Bonilla- Silva, 2006; Wise, 2011), history (Roediger, 2005), ideology (Leonardo, 2009), racialization (Helms, 1990), expressions and economic experiences (Lipsitz, 1998; Oliver & Shapiro, 1997), epistemology (Mills, 2007), and emotions and behaviors (Thandeka, 1999), and nonetheless reaps material, political, economic, and structural benefits for those socially deemed white. These material benefits are accrued at the expense of people of color, namely in how people of color are systemically and prejudicially denied equal access to those material benefits. (Matias (2014:142). “And Our Feelings Just Don’t Feel It Anymore”: Re- Feeling Whiteness, Resistance, and Emotionality. Understanding & Dismantling Privilege, (4)2:134-153.

"Whiteness" as an ideology derives from the historical practice of institutionalizing "white supremacy." Beginning in at least the seventeenth century, "white" appeared as a legal term and social designator determining social and political rights. Eventually it was used widely to decide who could vote or be enslaved or be a citizen, who could attend which schools and churches, who could marry whom, and who could drink from which water fountain. These and thousands of other legal and social regulations were built upon the fiction of a superior "white" race deserving special privileges and protections. (Jay (2005:100-101). Whiteness Studies and the Multicultural Literature Classroom. 


Hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers or of their politics or culture.

Sources Consulted

  • Adams, Maurianne et al. (1997) Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook. New York: Rutledge
  • Richards, Heraldo et al. (2006) Addressing Diversity in Schools: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems.
  • Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative. A Community Builder’s Tool Kit: 15 Tools for Creating Healthy, Productive Interracial/Multicultural Communities. Claremont, CA: Claremont Graduate University, 2001. pages 32-33
  • Mark A. King, Anthony Sims, and David Osher, “How is Cultural Competence Integrated in Education?”
  • Johnson, Allan G.  (2001) Privilege, power, and Difference. New York: McGraw Hill
  • Center for Assessment and Policy Development
  • Tatum, Beverly (1997 ) Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?.
  • Sue, D. W., Lin, A. I., Torino, G. C., Capodilupo, C. M., & Rivera, D. P. (2009).  Racial microaggressions and difficult dialogues on race in the classroom.  Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 15, 183 – 190. 
  • Racial Equity Tools, www. Racialequitytools.org
  • National Center for Transgender Equality, http://www.transequality.org/
  • Herek, G. M., Gillis, J. R., & Cogan, J. C. (2009). Internalized stigma among sexual minority adults: Insights from a social psychological perspective. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 32-43.
  • UC Berkley Gender Equity Resource Center, http://geneq.berkeley.edu/
  • Critical race theory, race and gender microaggressions, and the experience of Chicana and Chicano scholars, Daniel G. Solarzano (1998) Qualitative Studies in Education, VOL. 11, NO. 1, 121-136
  • Basic Rights Oregon, Coming out for Racial Justice
  • OpenSource Leadership Strategies, Some Working Definitions
  • Multicultural Competence, Paul Kivel, 2007
  • https://saferspacesnyc.wordpress.com/
  • The Imposter Syndrome as Related to Teaching Evaluations and Advising Relationships of University Faculty Members