Skip to main content

Helpful Terms

Helpful Terms

The following terms are provided as a helpful guide, meant to provide clarification on how actions may be categorized or labeled. People may find this information a helpful start to expand self awareness and identify opportunities for learning and growth through dialogue and/or further education and exploration. It is important to note that these terms describe behaviors, not people and may not be fully representative of all experiences.

  • Ableism: prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental and/or emotional ability; usually that of able‐bodied/minded persons against people with illness, disabilities or less developed skills
  • Anti‐Semitism: the fear or hatred of Jews, Judaism and related symbols
  • Biphobia: the fear or hatred of persons perceived to be bisexual
  • Classism: prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in socio‐economic status, income, class; usually by upper classes against lower classes
  • Discrimination: actions based on conscious or unconscious prejudice that favor one group over others in the provision of goods, services or opportunities
  • Hate Crime: hate crime legislation often defines a hate crime as a crime motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation of any person
  • Heterosexism: viewing the world only in heterosexual terms, thus denigrating other sexual orientations
  • Homophobia: the fear or hatred of homosexuality (and other nonheterosexual identities) and persons perceived to be gay or lesbian
  • Implicit Bias: occurs when someone consciously rejects stereotypes and supports antidiscrimination efforts but also holds negative associations in his/her mind unconsciously
  • In‐group Bias: the tendency for groups to “favor” themselves by rewarding group members economically, socially, psychologically and emotionally in order to uplift one group over another
  • Islamaphobia: the fear or hatred of Muslims, Islam and related symbols
  • Marginalized: excluded, ignored or relegated to the outer edge of a group/society/community
  • Microaggression: everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to historically marginalized groups by well-intentioned members of the majority group who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent
  • Oppression: results from the use of institutional power and privilege where one person or group benefits at the expense of another; oppression is the use of power and the effects of domination
  • Prejudice: a preconceived judgment about a person or group of people, usually indicating negative bias
  • Racism: prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in race/ethnicity, usually by white/European descent groups against people of color
  • Sexism: prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in sex/gender, usually by men against women
  • Silencing: the conscious or unconscious processes by which the voice or participation of particular social identities is excluded or inhibited
  • Stereotype: blanket beliefs, unconscious associations and expectations about members of certain groups that present an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude or uncritical judgment. Stereotypes go beyond necessary and useful categorizations and generalizations in that they are typically negative, are based on little information and are highly generalized.
  • System of Oppression: conscious and unconscious, nonrandom, and organized harassment, discrimination, exploitation, discrimination, prejudice and other forms of unequal treatment that impact different groups
  • Transphobia: the fear or hatred of persons perceived to be transgender and/or transexual
  • Xenopobia: the fear or hatred of foreigners

Other Helpful Terms

  • Advocate: someone who speaks up for her/himself and members of his/her identity group; e.g., a woman who lobbies for equal pay for women. Advocates acknowledge responsibility as citizens to shape public policy to address intentional or unintentional harm to minorities and the oppressed, whether caused by action or inaction.
  • Ally: v. the act of resisting of dismantling systems of privilege and oppression of those with marginalized identities, in informed solidarity with that marginalized group. 
  • Bias Incident: Bias can be defined as an inclination, temperament or prejudice for or against an individual or group because of their membership in a protected class, especially in a way considered to be unfair. An incident that is motivated by bias may include offensive (intended or unintended) conduct or language, or expressions of disrespect toward a person or group because of actual or perceived membership in a protected class (i.e., race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, sex/gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, military or veteran status). While bias can take many shapes, it typically results in a state of emotional discomfort and/or concerns for personal safety or security for the impacted individual.
  • Color Blind: the belief in treating everyone “equally” by treating everyone the same; based on the presumption that differences are, by definition, bad or problematic and therefore best ignored (i.e., “I don’t see race, gender, etc.”)
  • Dialogue: “communication that creates and recreates multiple understandings” (Wink, 1997); it is bidirectional, not zero‐sum and may or may not end in agreement. Dialogue can be emotional and uncomfortable, but is safe, respectful and has greater understanding as its goal. It is seen as distinct from both debate and/or discussion for its focus on developing knowledge and awareness as opposed to winning (debate) or just sharing information passively (discussion).
  • Diversity:  Diversity refers to the presence and recognition of social identities among humans (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) and the many ways these identities intersect and are expressed.
  • Dominant Culture: the cultural values, beliefs and practices that are assumed to be the norm and are most influential within a given society
  • Equity: Equity is a process that responds to structural inequalities and create laws, policies, practices, and traditions that will foster fair outcomes for all.
  • Inclusion: Inclusion refers to the University of Dayton’s active, intentional, and sustained engagement with and celebration of diversity and belonging in every dimension of institutional life.
  • Intercultural/Intergroup: Interpersonal exchange between individuals of different groups with a focus on building understanding and relationships.
  • Privilege: Privilege is the advantages, favors, and benefits to members of dominant groups at the expense of members of margialized groups. It operates and conveys power on personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels. The scope and depth is largely invisible to those who have it. 


Adapted from the Washing University in St. Louis guide that was complied from existing resources provided by the National Conference for Community and Justice, Oregon State University, Arizona State University, Intergroup Relations Center, Gender Roles: A Sociological Perspective, 5/e by Linda Lindsey. Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2011, The National Center for Transgender Equality,, and, Gender Equity Resource Center, BGSU, University of Michigan, Indiana University, Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice (Ed by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, Pat Griffin), and Washington University in St. Louis; with updated definitons from the UD D&I Task Group.  


Equity Compliance Office Ste 240

Marianist Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0701