Key Vocabulary

Acculturation: Cultural modification of an individual group or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture.  May also use the merging of cultures as a result of prolonged contact.  

Acknowledgment:  Acknowledgment is the ongoing process of recognizing the reality and impact of events such as slavery, colonization, and other horrendous events whose ramifications and consequences continue to exist in our society today, with the aim of respectfully rectifying historical injustices and promoting healing and reconciliation.  This includes listening to the voices, demands, expectations, and knowledge of the people who have been oppressed, minoritized, or racialized.  

African American:  "African-American" refers to Americans whose ancestors were forcibly brought to the United States during the transatlantic African slave trade. The term was coined by Jesse Jackson and is used interchangeably with "Black Americans," "American Blacks," and "native Blacks." However, it is currently contested as African immigrants or their children also use it to describe individuals with more recent ties to Africa.  

Afrophobia: The fear, prejudice, or discrimination against people of African descent.

Ally: A person who attempts to understand the prejudice and discrimination of people.

Apartheid: A policy or system of racial segregation and discrimination established and prepurated by the South Africa government and White people.

Asian:  Refers to individuals who originate from or have ancestral roots in the continent of Asia. It is a broad term that encompasses diverse ethnic, cultural, and national backgrounds, including but not limited to East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and West Asia (also known as the Middle East).

Assimilation: The process of integrating into a dominant culture, often involving the loss or suppression of one's original cultural identity.

Bait and Switch:  A manipulative tactic commonly employed in commerce or advertising, involving the deceptive lure of an attractive offer or product to entice potential customers, followed by the substitution of a less desirable alternative upon their engagement or purchase.

Bias: A unfair preference for a thing, person, group, or idea.

Bigot:  A person who is unreasonably attached to a belief, opinion, or prejudice and is antagonistic towards a person or people based on their membership of a particular group.   

Black immigrant: An umbrella term that refers to those from Caribbean islands and African nations who have voluntarily and involuntarily migrated to the United States for social, educational, political, and economic reasons. It also refers to those who are racialized as "Black" according to normative understandings of race in the U.S.

Blackness:  Refers to the degree to which individuals identify with the social and political experiences of Black people worldwide. In the United States, blackness is frequently defined and confined to the experiences of Black Americans. However, the term "Black" overlooks the ethnic, religious, and national diversities within the racial category, often obscuring the diverse identities of communities across the African continent, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and other regions of the world.

Browness:  The extent to which individuals identify with the social and political experiences of Brown people worldwide. In the U.S. context, brownness is often defined and limited to the experiences of Brown Americans. However, the term "Brown" can also obscure the diverse identities within this racial category, including those of South Asian, Latino, Native American, North African, and Middle Eastern backgrounds who identify with the term.

Caste: A rigid social hierarchy based on hereditary, occupation, and social status, prevalent in certain societies.

Co-conspirator: A person who actively collaborates with others to challenge or dismantle systems of oppression.

Cognitive Dissonance: Psychological discomfort experienced when an individual holds conflicting beliefs or values.

Colonization: The establishment and control of a foreign territory by a more powerful country, often involving the exploitation of resources and subjugation of local and Indigenous Peoples.

Colorism: Colorism is a manifestation of discrimination or prejudice that stems from the ideology of White Supremacy. It is adapted and perpetuated within racial and ethnic groups, resulting in individuals discriminating against their own people based on different skin tones. This harmful phenomenon reflects the internalization and adaptation of White Supremacy beliefs within these communities.

Colorblind:  The concept of color blindness in relation to race promotes the idea of treating all individuals equally regardless of their race, disregarding racial differences. However, it has been criticized for overlooking systemic racism and the importance of acknowledging and addressing racial disparities, leading to a shift towards a more race-conscious approach that values diversity and actively challenges biases.

Community Activism: Collective efforts within a community to bring about social, political, or environmental change.

Conscious Bias:  Deliberate prejudices or preferences based on characteristics like race or gender. It involves awareness and intentional action, distinguishing it from unconscious bias.

Conscientious Objector:  A person who objects to participating in certain work activities or practices based on moral, religious, or ethical beliefs. They conscientiously refuse to engage in specific tasks or actions within everyday work environments. Conscientious objectors may experience ostracization and disapproval from both leadership and their peers due to their stance.

Coolies: A derogatory term historically used to refer to indentured laborers, predominantly from South Asia, who were subjected to exploitative and oppressive working conditions, often involving forced labor and economic coercion, in European Colonies such as Fiji, Oceania, Guyana, and East Africa.   These groups were all subsumed to the label “coolie.”

Cosmopolitan: Characterized by the inclusion and acceptance of diverse cultures and perspectives.

Cultural Broker:  is an intermediary who facilitates communication and understanding between different cultural groups. They bridge the gap caused by cultural differences, promoting collaboration and mutual respect.  This responsiblity often falls on the children of immigrantss.  

Deception:  The act of intentionally misleading or tricking others through false information, manipulation, or withholding of relevant facts, typically for personal gain or to undermine the trust and autonomy of individuals or groups.

Denial:  Is the act of refusing to accept or acknowledge the reality, existence, or significance of events such as slavery, colonization, and other horrendous historical events. It involves dismissing or distorting historical evidence and downplaying its impact.

Diaspora:  Refers to a scattered population or community of people who share a common origin, often stemming from a particular geographic region or ancestral heritage. These individuals or groups have been dispersed or migrated from their original homeland and have settled in different parts of the world. The concept of diaspora encompasses the preservation of cultural, ethnic, and social ties to their ancestral roots, even as they establish new communities and identities in their adopted lands.

Discrimination: Unjust or prejudicial treatment of individuals or groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, or religion.

Divide and Conquer:  is a strategy or approach that involves creating division or disunity among individuals or groups in order to gain control, influence, or advantage over them. The tactic aims to weaken collective resistance by pitting different factions against each other, thereby making it easier to manipulate or control the divided parties. By exploiting existing differences, be they social, political, or cultural, the strategy seeks to conquer or exert control over a group or situation.

Documented: securing and holding the right paperwork for residency, work, or citizenship in a foreign country.  

Double Standard:  An unfair practice where different expectations or rules are applied to different individuals or groups. It often leads to unequal treatment and perpetuates systemic inequality and racism.

Emergent Strategy: A flexible and adaptive approach to organizing and problem-solving that emphasizes collaboration, resilience, and transformative change.

Emigrate: To leave one's country of origin to settle permanently in another.

Enslaved: Describing the state of being forcibly and involuntarily held as property or chattel, deprived of personal freedom, autonomy, and basic human rights, usually through systems of institutionalized slavery perpetuated by historical and ongoing practices of exploitation and racial oppression.

Ethics in Research:   Refers to the moral principles and guidelines that govern the proper and responsible conduct of studies, ensuring the protection of participants' rights, welfare, and dignity throughout the research process. These ethical standards guide researchers in upholding integrity, transparency, respect, and fairness in their interactions with participants and in the dissemination of research findings.  An exemplary case that underscores the significance of ethics in research is the Tuskegee Airman Study, a historical research project conducted by the United States Public Health Service from 1932 to 1972 (see CDC website). This study involved intentionally withholding treatment for syphilis in African American men, despite the availability of an effective remedy.

Ethnicity: Refers to perceived common ancestry, the perception of a shared history of some sort, and shared symbols of peoplehood. Ethnic identity is a dynamic, socially constructed, and socially negotiated process.

Ex-pat: An abbreviation for "expatriate," a person who lives outside their native country.

Fear: An intense and distressing emotion triggered by the anticipation of danger, pain, or harm, often influenced by historical experiences. Historical experiences shape present-day fear by contributing to collective memory, cultural narratives, and the perception of potential threats, amplifying feelings of anxiety, unease, or apprehension.

Femicide: The intentional killing of women or girls because of their gender.

First generation: Refers to those who were born and raised outside of the U.S. and came as adults.

Free: Denoting the condition of unrestricted liberty, agency, and independence, particularly in the context of individuals or groups who are not subject to oppressive systems, discriminatory laws, or coercive constraints on their rights, opportunities, or choices.

Gaslighting: A psychological manipulation technique aimed at distorting another person's perception of reality, undermining their confidence and sanity by invalidating their experiences, emotions, or memories, often used as a means of control, dominance, or emotional abuse.

Genocide: The deliberate and systematic extermination of a racial, ethnic, or national group.

Global Racism: Global racism is a systemic ideology that perpetuates discrimination based on race, favoring individuals or groups considered "white" or of lighter skin color. It involves beliefs in racial superiority, leading to the minoritization and mistreatment of racial and ethnic minorities.  It is also seen as a deficiency, as evidenced by the inability of whites and other races to produce melanin, which generates skin color.  See the work by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing in the ISIS Papers for a greater discussion on this definition.   

Hate: Intense hostility or animosity towards individuals or groups, often based on their race, religion, or other characteristics.

Holocaust: The genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the mass murder of six million Jews.

Human Rights: Fundamental rights and freedoms that are inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, nationality, religion, or other status.

Human Trafficking:  The illegal and exploitative trade of human beings, involving the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or receipt of individuals through force, fraud, or coercion, for purposes such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, or involuntary servitude.

Hypocrisy:  Refers to the act of professing beliefs, virtues, or principles that one's actions contradict or fail to uphold. It involves presenting oneself as morally upright, sincere, or consistent while behaving in a manner that contradicts those claimed values or standards. Hypocrisy often involves a discrepancy between what one says and what one does, leading to a perception of insincerity or dishonesty.

Ignorance: Lack of knowledge, understanding, or awareness about a particular subject or topic. It can also refer to willful disregard or indifference towards obtaining knowledge.

Illegal:  Refers to something that is prohibited, forbidden, or not authorized by the law. It is important to note that this term should not be applied to people, as individuals themselves are not inherently illegal. People possess rights and dignity regardless of their immigration status or other personal circumstances. The term "illegal" should be reserved for actions or behaviors that violate established laws, rather than being used to dehumanize or stigmatize individuals.

Immigrate: The act of permanently moving to a different country or region with the intention of residing there.

Individual Racism: Personal beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that perpetuate discriminatory actions or prejudices against individuals based on their race or ethnicity.

Indigenous: Referring to the original or native inhabitants of a particular region or territory. Indigenous people are often characterized by having a distinct cultural, historical, and social identity that is tied to their land and traditions.

Indigenous Knowledge: The knowledge, practices, and wisdom accumulated by local or Indigenous communities over generations, often related to their environment, natural resources, agriculture, medicine, spirituality, and cultural heritage.  This includes knowledge that has been destroyed, devalued, or displaced during European colonization.  

Indentured:  Although originally based on voluntary agreements, it has historically and currently been exploited, leading to situations resembling slavery or human trafficking. In some cases, individuals seeking better opportunities have been deceived or coerced into signing unfair contracts, leaving them trapped in exploitative and oppressive conditions. These situations may involve the withholding of wages, restriction of movement, physical and psychological abuse, and a lack of legal protections. When indentured servitude is manipulated in this manner, it can cross the line into forced labor, resembling modern-day forms of slavery and human trafficking.

Institutional or Systemic Racism:I A form of racism that is embedded within social, political, economic, and cultural systems and institutions. It refers to policies, practices, and structures that result in differential treatment and opportunities based on race, perpetuating inequalities and disadvantages for certain racial groups.

Intra-ethnic interactions: Interactions that take place within members of the same ethnic group. It refers to social, cultural, and relational dynamics among individuals who share a common ethnic background.

Intra-racial interactions: Interactions that occur within members of the same race. It refers to social, cultural, and relational dynamics among individuals who belong to the same racial group.

Intersectionality:  Intersectionality is a way of understanding how many aspects of a person's identity, such as race, gender, or social status, can interact to shape their experiences. It demonstrates that people can encounter various sorts of prejudice and that it is critical to evaluate all aspects of their identity when considering fairness and equality. However, some individuals believe it is difficult to put into practice, and there is constant debate about how successfully it is employed in society.

Intersection oppression:  Means that someone can experience different types of discrimination because of multiple parts of who they are, like their race and gender. Some people think it's important to understand this, but others worry it can be hard to know how to take action and address all the different types of discrimination at the same time.

Internment Camps: Facilities or locations where people, often civilians, are forcibly detained or confined during times of war, political unrest, or conflict. The term is commonly associated with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Karma:  A misrepresented term and overused term in Western societies.  When in threatening situations or violence, you should take care of yourself and not react.  Hinduism identifies karma as the relationship between a person's mental or physical action and the consequences following that action. It also signifies the consequences of all the actions of a person in their current and previous lives and the chain of cause and effect in morality.

LGBTQIA+: An acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. It is used to represent a diverse range of sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

Migration: The process of moving from one place to another, typically involving the relocation of individuals or groups of people across geographical or political boundaries.

Misappropriation:  The act of wrongfully or unjustly taking possession, control, or use of someone else's property, ideas, cultural artifacts, or intellectual creations, often without consent or proper acknowledgement, leading to exploitation or the perpetuation of power imbalances.

Natural Resources:  are materials, substances, or elements found in the environment that possess inherent value and utility. These resources encompass a wide range of entities, including minerals, water, forests, oil, gas, biodiversity, and more. They are often subject to exploitation, extraction, or depletion in pursuit of economic gain. However, such activities can lead to environmental degradation and have social implications. Examples of resources include land, water, food, red cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), coltan, diamonds, gold, and silver.

Negotiation: The process of reaching an agreement or settlement through discussion and compromise. It involves parties with differing interests working together to find mutually acceptable solutions.

1.5 generation: Refers to individuals who immigrated to a new country at a young age, typically before adolescence. They are considered to be in-between the first and second generations, as they share characteristics and experiences of both.

Oral Histories: The collection and preservation of historical information, knowledge, and cultural heritage through spoken narratives and personal accounts of individuals or communities.

Patriarchy: A social system or structure in which men hold primary positions of power, authority, and dominance, and women are typically marginalized or subordinated.

Participatory Action Research (PAR): A research approach that actively involves participants and stakeholders in the research process, empowering them to shape the research agenda, methodology, and outcomes. It aims to address social issues and promote social change.

Prejudice:  The formation of preconceived opinions or beliefs about individuals or groups based on stereotypes, often leading to unfair treatment or discrimination. Overcoming prejudice necessitates fostering understanding and equal treatment, irrespective of one's background or characteristics.

Power Dynamics: The hierarchical relationships and distribution of power within a society or social group. It refers to the ways in which power is exercised, negotiated, and contested.

Race: A socially constructed identity based on physical characteristics, such as skin color, hair texture, and facial features. It is often used to categorize people into different groups and has social implications and consequences.

Racialized: The process of attributing social meaning and significance to racial identities, often resulting in differential treatment, opportunities, and experiences based on race.

Racism: The belief that certain races are inherently superior or inferior to others, and the systemic discrimination, prejudice, and unequal treatment based on race.

Refugees: Individuals who have been forced to flee their home or home countries due to economic challenges, persecution, conflict, violence, climate disasters, or human rights violations. They seek asylum in other locations or countries to find stability, safety, and protection.

Religion: A system of beliefs, practices, rituals, and values concerning the existence and nature of a higher power or powers, often involving worship and moral codes. It provides individuals and communities with a framework for understanding the world, their purpose in it, and their relationships with self and others.

Reservations: also known as confinement zones, refer to designated lands in the United States set aside for indigenous peoples. They are a product of colonization, displacement, and broken treaties. Native American communities were forcibly relocated to reservations, resulting in the loss of ancestral lands, cultural practices, and self-governance. Reservations have often suffered from neglect, limited resources, and systemic poverty, perpetuating historical injustices and marginalization. Recognizing these issues is crucial for addressing ongoing challenges and working towards justice, equality, and the restoration of indigenous rights.

Self-Preservation:  The instinctive or deliberate actions taken by individuals or groups to protect their own well-being, safety, or survival, often in response to real or perceived threats, dangers, or oppressive conditions, aiming to secure their rights, interests, or existence.

Second generation immigrants: The children of immigrants who were born and raised in a country different from their parents' country of origin. They are the first generation to be born in the new country and often navigate the cultural, linguistic, and social dynamics of both their parents' heritage and the host country.

Settler Colonialism: A form of colonialism characterized by the establishment of permanent settlements by a foreign power on Indigenous lands. Settler colonialism often involves the displacement, dispossession, marginalization, and mass murder or genocide of Indigenous populations, with settlers maintaining control over the land and resources.

Shame:  Fear of returning to home country with little or nothing after being aboard.  

Spirituality: A personal and subjective experience of connection to something greater than oneself, often encompassing beliefs about the transcendent, inner values, purpose, and the search for meaning in life. Spirituality can be expressed through religious or non-religious practices and beliefs.

Solar Energy:  Refers to the radiant energy emitted by the sun, which is harnessed and converted into usable forms of power for various applications. It involves the utilization of technologies, such as solar panels or solar cells, to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity or heat, providing a renewable and sustainable source of energy that reduces dependence on fossil fuels and mitigates environmental impact.

South Asian:  Pertaining to the region of South Asia, which encompasses countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives, and relating to the diverse cultures, languages, traditions, and histories of the people residing in this region.

Traditional Knowledge: The knowledge, skills, practices, and wisdom that are developed, preserved, and passed down through generations within specific cultures, communities, or indigenous groups. It includes knowledge about the environment, natural resources, healing practices, spirituality, storytelling, and other aspects of cultural heritage.

Third Generation Immigrants: Refers to individuals who are the grandchildren of immigrants. They are born and raised in the country where their grandparents migrated to, typically having a more distant connection to their ancestral culture and heritage.

Tribalism: The loyalty, identification, or allegiance to a specific tribe or ethnic group. It often involves strong social cohesion, common cultural values, and a sense of belonging within the group, sometimes leading to divisions or conflicts between different tribes or ethnicities.

Unconscious Bias:  Implicit or ingrained attitudes, stereotypes, or prejudices that individuals hold unconsciously or unintentionally, influencing their judgments, decisions, and behaviors towards others, often based on factors such as race, gender, ethnicity, or social background, despite contrary conscious beliefs or values.

US Census: The official count and survey conducted by the United States government every ten years to collect demographic information about the population of the country. It includes data on age, race, ethnicity, household composition, and other relevant factors to inform policymaking and resource allocation.

Undocumented:  Referring to individuals who lack legal documentation or official recognition of their immigration status, often due to factors such as migration.

White Privilege: The unearned advantages, benefits, and societal privileges that individuals of white racial background experience solely based on their race. It refers to the inherent advantages and opportunities afforded to white individuals in social, economic, and political spheres, often at the expense of non-white individuals.

White Supremacy: The belief in and promotion of the idea that white people are superior to people of other racial or ethnic backgrounds. It includes ideologies, practices, and systems that perpetuate white dominance, privilege, and the marginalization or oppression of non-white individuals and communities.

Whitewash:  The deliberate act of concealing or glossing over the negative or problematic aspects of a situation, event, or individual, particularly related to matters of history, by presenting a sanitized or distorted version that perpetuates a biased or favorable narrative.

Woke and Wokism: "Woke" refers to being socially and politically aware, particularly about issues of systemic injustice, inequality, and discrimination. It originated within African American Vernacular English and has been popularized as a term indicating a heightened awareness of social issues. "Wokism" is a term used to critique or dismiss progressive or socially aware perspectives, often used by those who oppose such views.

Xenophobia: The fear, prejudice, or hostility towards people from other countries, cultures, or backgrounds. It involves an aversion or mistrust towards foreigners or those perceived as different, often leading to discrimination or exclusion based on national origin or immigration.