Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Diversity Definitions

PCC Mission Priority Terminology


Equitable access allows for an individual to experience a mutually beneficial relationship with the institution that creates a true sense of ownership, belongingness and familiarity. It is the ability, right, and permission to approach, enter, speak with, or use all aspects of the community college, no matter who you are. This challenges the assumption that the community college open door policy equates to access for all, including historically underrepresented populations.


Giving equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human ability and experience. Accessibility encompasses the broader meanings of compliance and refers to how organizations make space for the characteristics that each person brings. It is not just about the physical environment: it is about access to and representation in content for all.


Equitable achievement allows for an individual to exercise, refine, and acquire capacities that nurture and grow their talents both individually and as a member of a collective. This dimension challenges simplistic notions that achievement equates to individualistic accomplishments.


A framework for constructively addressing and changing oppressive dynamics as they play out in our environment.


Anti-racism is the practice of identifying, challenging, and changing the values, structures and behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism; the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies, practices, and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.


A person who opposes racism and promotes racial tolerance. Focused and sustained action, which includes inter-cultural, inter-faith, multi-lingual and inter-abled (i.e. differently abled) communities with the intent to change a system or an institutional policy, practice, or procedure which has racist effects.


After an individual’s basic needs are met, the door is opened to create a sense of belonging. In the college environment, both the academic and social elements work in tandem to create a sense of belonging, which cultivates feelings that the individual matters, they are valued, they feel safety in the group, and it is conveyed that they are indispensable to the group. A sense of belonging is relational, reciprocal, and dynamic.


To free from the process whereby a nation or culture establishes and maintains its domination on another nation or culture.


Individual and group differences along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, and various lifestyles, experience, and interests. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions contained within each individual. Diversity is a group of people who are different in the same place.


Refers to a heightened focus on groups experiencing disproportionate impact in order to remediate disparities in their experiences and outcomes. Equity 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 fair and just treatment. Equity is an ideal and a goal, not a process. It requires an intentional commitment to strategic priorities, resources, respect and civility, and ongoing action and assessment of progress towards achieving specified goals.


The active and intentional operationalization of diversity and equity within every facet of life and activities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect. Organizationally, inclusion requires the identification and removal of barriers (e.g. physical, procedural, visible, invisible, intentional, unintentional) that inhibit members’ participation and contribution and the need for decision or policy making in a way that shares power. Inclusion also requires every member of the community to demonstrate these values and principles of fairness, justice, equity, and respect in learning, teaching, service and employment, by being open to different voices and perspectives, developing an understanding of different cultures, experiences and communities, and making a conscious effort to be welcoming, helpful and respectful to everyone.

Inclusive Culture and Climate

One that embraces diversity and creates an atmosphere of respect for all members of the community.

  • Culture: how people feel about the organization and the beliefs, values, and assumptions that provide the identity and set the standards of behavior; “the way we do things around here”
  • Climate: the shared perceptions of the people in a group or organization; the feel of the school or work environment
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.

Racial Equity

When race does not determine or predict the distribution of resources, opportunities, and burdens for group members in society. 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.

Social equity

A state of affairs in which all people within a society have fair access to the rights and opportunities that allow people to pursue a life of their own choosing and to avoid extreme deprivations in outcomes; including equitable access to education, social services, health care, and justice in the legal system.

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. Social justice is both a goal and a process.

PCC Mission Priority Terminology Printable PDFS



Involves acting with regard to other’s feelings. Specific actions may be considered to be appreciating or depreciating depending on the place, time and context. Differences including, but not limited to, social role, gender, social class, religion and cultural identity may all affect the perception of a given behavior. To create an appreciative environment requires that each community member develop an understanding of the diversity of perspectives and experiences within the college, and adjust their behavior appropriately based on those differences. In addition, in situations where deprecation occurs unintentionally, the behavior is not excused. Rather, these situations must be used as a learning experience to guide future behavior.

Cultural Competency

Means an understanding of how institutions and individuals can respond with appreciation and effectively to people from all cultures, economic statuses, language backgrounds, races, ethnic backgrounds, disabilities, religions, genders, gender identifications, sexual orientations, veteran statuses and other characteristics in a manner that recognizes, affirms and values the worth, and preserves the dignity, of individuals, families and communities.

  • Culturally Responsive: The ability to learn from and relate with appreciation, to community members from other cultures as well as your own, and understand members’ diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors to meet the members’ social and cultural needs by adjusting your treatment according to the cultural context of the situation.
  • Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: Using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them.
  • Equity-mindedness: Recognizing the ways in which systemic inequities disadvantage minoritized people in a range of social institutions or contexts (education, employment, healthcare, the criminal justice system, etc); reframing outcome disparities as an indication of institutional underperformance rather than students’ underperformance; not attributing outcome disparities exclusively to students or perceived deficits in students’ identities, life circumstance, or capabilities; and critically reflecting upon one’s role and responsibilities (as a faculty member, student affairs staff, administrator, counselor, etc.).
Gender Responsive

Intentionally developing awareness of and taking into account the differences in life experience of people of all genders (including transgender, cisgender, Two-Spirit, women, men, genderqueer, and non-binary people), and adjusting strategies and practices in ways that appropriately respond to each individual. Gender-responsiveness takes into account the impacts of gender-based violence and systems of oppression (including sexism and cissexism) and considers whether women and femmes, people of transgender experience, or people whose gender expression is non-conforming face additional and/or different challenges than men and/or cisgender folks. This approach recognizes the social determinants that may initially lead people of different genders into discriminatory harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, and retaliation reports and investigations, both as the reporting party and the respondent, as well as the specific inequities that are leveled against women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people within institutions.

Trauma Informed

A framework that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for all parties and impacted individuals.



A person experiences disability when impairment substantially limits a major life activity, or when there is a history or perception of such a limitation. 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 have a disability in some environments, but not in others.


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.

Sex and Gender
  • Gender Expression: The manner in which any individual’s gender identity is expressed to the world at large, 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.
  • Biological Sex (assigned sex): The determination of an infant’s sex at birth based on the anatomy of an individual’s reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics. Reinforcing sex assignments through surgical or hormonal interventions is often considered to violate the individual’s human rights.
  • Cisgender: Someone who is cisgender has a gender identity that is the same as the gender they were assigned at birth. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender or trans. “Cisgender” is preferred over terms like “biological”, “genetic”, or “real” male or female which set up cis people as the norm and trans people as the inadequate other.
  • Intersex: An umbrella term describing people born with reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or a chromosome pattern that can’t be classified as typically male or female. The most thorough existing research finds intersex people to constitute an estimated 1.7% of the population*, which makes being intersex about as common as having red hair (1%-2%).
  • 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.
National Origin

The country a person was born in or where their ancestors lived, encompassing their country of origin, culture, ancestry, linguistic characteristics, accent, or physical appearance.


A way to classify collections of biological traits that a society thinks are important. 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. There is no biological or genetic basis for racial categories.


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 the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life.


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.

Support and Belonging

Feeling socially connected.


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.

Affinity Spaces

Locations where groups of people are drawn together because of a shared interest, experience, or engagement in a common activity.

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.

Harm and Impacts, Othering

Recognition that the harms are individual and systemic. Harms also reinforce systemic and internal barriers to JEDI.


A set of dynamics, processes and structures that engender marginality and persistent inequality for diverse communities. Dimensions of othering include, but are not limited to, religion, sex, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, and skin tone.


Any unequal treatment of different groups of people simply for being members of said group.


A way of describing any attitude, action, or institutional structure that 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 or immigrant status (xenophobism), etc.


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

Internalized Oppression

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

Intergenerational Trauma

Trauma that is transferred in between generations due to exposure to extremely adverse events that impact individuals so deeply, that children have to grapple with their parents’ post‐traumatic state. Transgenerational effects are not only psychological, but familial, social, cultural, neurobiological and possibly even genetic as well.

Cultural Appropriation

At times also phrased cultural misappropriation, is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minoritized cultures.


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,” and “Where are you really from”), 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. These communications subtly exclude, negate, or nullify the thoughts, feelings, or experience of a person of color.

Imposter Syndrome

Refers to individuals’ irrational feelings of not being as capable or adequate as others. Common symptoms include feelings of phoniness, self-doubt, and inability to take credit for one’s accomplishments. Such imposter feelings influence a person’s self-esteem, professional goals, mood, relationships with others, and how strongly people believe they have control over the situations and experiences that affect their lives.

Systemic Barriers to JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion)


Unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power, usually directed towards marginalized groups, coupled with the power and privilege of the oppressive group, and manifested at individual, cultural, and institutional levels.


A set of negative and unfair generalizations about an entire category of people that leads individuals to prejudge individuals from that group or the group in general, regardless of individual differences among members of that group.


Exaggerated and simplified descriptions that are applied to every person in a category that involve a judgment of habits, traits, abilities, or expectations, and with no attention to the relation between the attributions and the social contexts in which they have arisen.

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.


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. Whiteness results in political, economic, and structural benefits for those socially deemed white, at the expense of people of color. Whiteness was used widely to decide who could vote, be enslaved or be a citizen, who could attend which schools and churches, who could marry whom, and who could live in which neighborhood. These and thousands of other legal and social regulations were built upon the fiction of a superior “white” race deserving special privileges and protections.


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

Internal Barriers to JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion)

Explicit Bias

The attitudes or beliefs we have about a group that we’re consciously aware of

Implicit Bias

The unconscious bias that we have about other groups


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

White Guilt

Is the individual or collective guilt felt by some white people for harm resulting from racist treatment of marginalized ethnic groups such as African Americans and Indigenous peoples by other white people, most specifically in the context of the Atlantic slave trade, European colonialism, and the legacy of these eras.

White Fragility

Discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.


A strong and aggressive sense of masculine pride; an exaggerated masculinity in which males are expected to exhibit an overbearing attitude to anyone in a social position perceived as inferior to theirs, demanding complete subservience.

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

Compliance Definitions

Title VI

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in federally funded private and public entities


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in place of employment of more than fifteen people.

Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”


Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, alter amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, prohibits employment discrimination based on disability and also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.


The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act establishes the cumulative length of time that an individual may be absent from work for military duty and retain reemployment rights to five years, provides protection for disabled veterans by requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability, and protects a member of the armed services from employment discrimination relating to one’s military service.

Confidential Resources

Employees in confidential spaces, which include the Counseling Department, Dreamers Resource Center, Multicultural Centers, Queer Resource Centers, Veterans Resource Centers, and Women’s Resource Centers of the college that are not required to notify college officials, public safety or law enforcement in most cases of receiving a report of a possible Title IX issue.

Responsible Employee

Are all employees in the Human Resources, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Department of Public Safety, Managers, leads, Faculty Department Chairs, Student Conduct Retention Coordinators, and all PCC employees that hear student appeals including but not limited to financial aid and grading appeals. All responsible employees must report all disclosures of possible unlawful discrimination; harassment including sexual assault, sexual misconduct, interpersonal violence, domestic violence, and stalking; or retaliation to the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Protected Class

The groups protected from discrimination by law. These groups include all people on the basis of sex; any group which shares a common race, religion, color, or national origin; people over the age of 18 in Oregon or over 40 federally; and people with disabilities.

Unlawful Discrimination

Any unequal treatment of different groups of people leading to an adverse action.

Unlawful Harassment

Is unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct based on protected status that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a student, staff, or faculty member’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s education and/or employment opportunities, programs or activities.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it has the effect, intended or unintended, of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or it has created an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment and would have such an effect on a reasonable person.


Any materially adverse action taken because of a person’s participation in the procedures provided by this policy. Protected activity includes reporting an incident that may implicate this policy, participating in the resolution process, supporting a reporting or responding party, or assisting in providing information relevant to an investigation. An action is “materially adverse” if it would discourage the person from participating in the protected activity.

Free speech

The right to express or not express any opinions or ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, restraint, or legal sanction on the part of the government.

Sources Consulted

See the sources
  • Institutional Diversity Blog
  • 5 Dimensions of Equity Everett College
  • National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy
  • (Jay (2005:100-101). Whiteness Studies and the Multicultural Literature Classroom.
  • 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, racialequitytools.org
  • National Center for Transgender Equality, 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, 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
  • Saferspacesnyc.wordpress.com
  • How to Be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Imposter Syndrome as Related to Teaching Evaluations and Advising Relationships of University Faculty Members
  • Wikipedia
  • BOLI – discrimination at work
  • BOLI – gender identity at work
  • BOLI – disability rights
  • Merriam Webster
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice by Geneva Gay
  • USC Center for Racial Equity
  • Intersex Campaign for Equality
  • The American Psychological Association
  • EEOC