Racial Equity Terms and Definitions: Shared Language

As we strive to organize and operationalize equity, it is essential to use a shared language to normalize conversations and support and encourage uniform understanding. This list of terms and definitions will establish a firm foundation, as we work to advance racial equity and inclusion within the City of Durham.

  • Bias: Pre-judgement toward one group and its members relative to another group.
  • BIPOC: Black and indigenous people of color
  • Disparity: A measurable difference in outcomes for populations. 
  • Diversity: The range of human differences (race and ethnicity, gender identity, age, socio-economic status, religion, political affiliation, physical and mental ability). 
  • Implicit Bias: Treating people differently or making decisions about them, at the subconscious level, based on their group membership.
  • Equity: Justice, fair treatment and opportunity for the advancement of all people across all systems (workforce, housing, education, economics, healthcare, environment, social and community)
  • Equity Tool: A decision making model used to integrate equitable considerations into policies, processes, procedures and practices
  • Equity Lens: Screening questions that assesses the impact of proposed changes from the viewpoint of equity.
  • Explicit Bias: Treating people differently or making decisions about them, at the conscious level, based on their group membership.
  • Inclusion: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, decision making and policy making creating a true sense of belonging and the ability of everyone to engage and contribute  authentically.
  • Individual Racism: Pre-judgment, bias or discrimination by an individual, based on race.
  • Institutional (Systemic) Racism: Beliefs and behaviors that result in the creation of policies, practices, processes and procedures that work better for white people than for people of color.
  • Intersectionality: The multiple identities that individuals have that crossover to create an intersection (race and gender, race and sexual identity, northerner and tall, southerner and short, parent and single, parent and married). 
  • LGBTQ+: Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning Plus 
  • Privilege: An unearned set of advantages, entitlements and beliefs of the dominant group reinforced by formal and informal institutions. 
  • Race: An arbitrary social construct created by Europeans during the time of worldwide colonial growth, to assign human worth and social status, for the purpose of legitimizing power and privilege.  -Dr. Mulana Karenga 
  • Racial Equity: The condition when racial identity cannot be used to predict individual or group outcomes (e.g. wealth, income, employment, criminal justice, housing, health care, education)and outcomes for all groups are improved.
  • Racial Inequity: When racial identity is a predictor of individual or group opportunities, the distribution of resources and/or life outcomes (e.g., wealth, income, employment, criminal justice, housing, health care, education).
  • Structural Racism: Institutional racism across multiple institutions, combining to create a system that negatively impacts communities of color.