Antiracism Resources

Diversity Task Force

In June 2020, the Session commissioned a Wellshire Diversity Task Force.  The Task Force purpose statement is below, find the entire document here.

God loves diversity. God delights in justice. Jesus reminds us to love all of God’s children. Therefore, we commit ourselves to exploring and exposing injustice, beginning with our positions of privilege and complicity, in the Church and in our society, and commit to ongoing learning and action. We challenge ourselves and each other to recognize the existence of white privilege in church and society, and to dismantle structural racism.

For more antiracism resources provided by the PC(USA) visit:

Local Organizations
The Diversity Task Force recently donated funds to four local organizations that support our mission in Denver:
  • Building Bridges, leadership training for teens and diversity training for all ages
  • InterFaith Alliance, supporting racial equity, economic justice, and religious freedom
  • Casa de Paz, uniting immigrant families and offering transitional support for detainees
  • Korey Wise Innocence Project, defending those falsely accused of crimes 
As a Matthew 25 Church, Wellshire is committed to work to “dismantle structural racism.” This is a key objective of the Diversity Task Force.
As part of the task force’s commitment to doing this work through education, we have drafted working definitions of terms crucial to our understanding. 
Do the definitions add to your understanding of what diversity means? We invite thoughtful discussion as to the terms that have been presented. You may send comments and questions to

Accountability – the ways in which individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions, and acknowledge the values and groups to which they are responsible.

To be accountable, one must be visible, with a transparent agenda and process.. Accountability demands commitment. Accountability also requires some sense of urgency and becoming a true stakeholder in the outcome. Accountability can be externally imposed (legal or organizational requirements), or internally applied (moral, relational, faith-based, or recognized as some combination of the two) on a continuum from the institutional and organizational level to the individual level. From a relational point of view, accountability is not always doing it right. Sometimes it’s really about what happens after it’s done wrong.

SOURCE: Accountability and White Anti-Racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work, Bonnie Berman Cushing with Lila Cabbil, Margery Freeman, Jeff Hitchcock, and Kimberly Richards (2010).

Anti-racism – the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. 
Source: Racial Equity Tools Glossary

The non-legally-binding working definition of anti-semitism as adopted by the Plenary in Bucharest on May 26, 2016, and used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

To learn more about anti-Semitism, click on the link below. SOURCE:

Bigotry – Intolerant prejudice that glorifies one’s own group and denigrates members of other groups.

SOURCE: National Conference for Community and Justice, St. Louis Region. Unpublished handout used in the Dismantling Racism Institute program.

BIPOC – refers to “Black and/or Indigenous People of Color.” While “POC” or People of Color is often used as well, BIPOC explicitly leads with Black and Indigenous identities, which helps to counter anti-Black racism and invisibilization of Native communities.

SOURCE: Creating Cultures and Practices for Racial Equity: A Toolbox for Advancing Racial Equity for Arts and Cultural Organizations, Nayantara Sen & Terry Keleher, Race Forward (2021).

Black Liberation Theology was founded by the Rev. James Cone. It began on July 31, 1966, when 51 black pastors bought a full page ad in the New York Times and demanded a more aggressive approach to eradicating racism. The movement has its roots in 1960s civil-rights activism and draws much of its inspiration from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm A. It is characterized “mainly a theology that sees God as concerned with the poor and the weak.”

According to Cone, at the core of black liberation theology is an effort — in a white-dominated society, in which black has been defined as evil — to make the gospel relevant to the life and struggles of American blacks, and to help black people learn to love themselves. It’s an attempt, he says “to teach people how to be both unapologetically black and Christian at the same time.”

Christian nationalism is an academic term that encompasses different degrees of intensity. It includes less harmful, white evangelicals who believe politicians and courts should eliminate barriers separating church and state—perhaps by allowing for prayer in schools or other public spaces—as well as those with a “dominionist” perspective, who feel  compelled to bring the nation’s institutions under control of people who will enforce “God’s law.”  The term also includes violent extremists willing to tear down democratic processes to bring about their vision of a white Christian nation. 


Cisgender: A term (pronounced sis-gender) used to refer to an individual whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth. The prefix cis- comes from the Latin word for “on the same side as.” People who are both cisgender and heterosexual are sometimes referred to as “cishet” (pronounced sis-het) individuals. The term cisgender is not a slur. People who are not trans should avoid calling themselves “normal” and instead refer to themselves as cisgender or cis.

Cisnormativity: The assumption that everyone is cisgender and that being cisgender is superior to all other genders. This includes the often implicitly held idea that being cisgender is the norm and that other genders are “different” or “abnormal.”

Cissexism: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of sex, specifically towards transgender and gender-expansive people

SOURCE: PFLAG National Glossary of Terms, June 2022 (accessed September 2022).


Class — Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups, held in place by attitudes that rank people according to economic status, family lineage, job status, level of education, and other divisions. One’s race can be a major determinant of one’s social or economic class. The variables of race and class, though closely connected, each need distinct attention.


Colonization can be defined as some form of invasion, dispossession and subjugation of a people. The invasion need not be military; it can begin—or continue—as geographical intrusion in the form of agricultural, urban or industrial encroachments. The result of such incursion is the dispossession of vast amounts of lands from the original inhabitants. This is often legalized after the fact. The long-term result of such massive dispossession is institutionalized inequality. The colonizer/colonized relationship is by nature an unequal one that benefits the colonizer at the expense of the colonized.

Ongoing and legacy colonialism impact power relations in most of the world today. For example, white supremacy as a philosophy was developed largely to justify European colonial exploitation of the Global South (including enslaving African peoples, extracting resources from much of Asia and Latin America, and enshrining cultural norms of whiteness as desirable both in colonizing and colonizer nations).

SOURCE: Emma LaRocque, PhD, “Colonization and Racism,” (Aboriginal Perspectives). Also see Racism and Colonialism, edited by Robert Ross (1982), and Andrea Smith, “Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy” (Racial Formation in the Twenty-First Century, 2012).

Colorblind – A term used to describe the act or practice of disregarding or ignoring racial characteristics, or being uninfluenced by racial prejudice. The concept of colorblindness is often promoted by those who dismiss the importance of race in order to proclaim the end of racism. It presents challenges when discussing diversity, which requires being racially aware, and equity that is focused on fairness for people of all races.

To learn more about this concept, click on this link:


The Combahee River Collective was an organization formed in 1974 by some of the strongest leaders of the Black feminist movement. Dismayed by the feminist movement, which they believed was dominated by middle-class white women, and the black-nationalist organizations which were overwhelmingly dominated by the male viewpoint, they strove to formulate their own politics and strategies in response to their experiences as Black women. The Collective is best known for its “Combahee River Collective Statement” notable for its introduction of the term “identity politics.”

“If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.”

SOURCE:; For more informative essays on the history of African America, read “Four Hundred Souls” edited byX. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been in the news lately and may be hard to understand just what it is. Developed by scholars in the 1970’s and 80’s in response to their concern about a lack of racial progress following the civil rights movements of the 60’s. CRT is a way of thinking about American history through the lens of racism. Central tenets of CRT are that race is a socially constructed concept and that racism is systemic in this nation’s institutions and they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society. Click here for more on understanding CRT.

Cultural Misappropriation – is not the neutrality of cultural exchange, appreciation, and appropriation because of the instance of colonialism and capitalism; Rather, Cultural Misappropriation occurs when a cultural fixture of a marginalized culture/community is copied, mimicked, or recreated by the dominant culture against the will of the original community and, above all else, commodified. One can understand the use of “misappropriation” as a distinguishing tool because it assumes that there are 1) instances of neutral appropriation, 2) the specifically referenced instance is non-neutral and problematic, even if benevolent in intention, 3) some act of theft or dishonest attribution has taken place, and 4) moral judgement of the act of appropriation is subjective to the specific culture from which is being engaged.

SOURCE: Devyn Springer, “Resources on What ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Is and Isn’t”.

Cultural racism refers to representations, messages and stories conveying the idea that behaviors and values associated with white people or “whiteness” are automatically “better” or more “normal” than those associated with other racially defined groups. Cultural racism shows up in advertising, movies, history books, definitions of patriotism, and in policies and laws. Cultural racism is also a powerful force in maintaining systems of internalized supremacy and internalized racism. It does that by influencing collective beliefs about what constitutes appropriate behavior, what is seen as beautiful, and the value placed on various forms of expression. All of these cultural norms and values in the U.S. have explicitly or implicitly racialized ideals and assumptions (for example, what “nude” means as a color, which facial features and body types are considered beautiful, which child-rearing practices are considered appropriate.)


Cultural representations refer to popular stereotypes, images, frames and narratives that are socialized and reinforced by media, language and other forms of mass communication and “common sense.” Cultural representations can be positive or negative, but from the perspective of the dismantling structural racism analysis, too often cultural representations depict people of color in ways that are dehumanizing, perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes, and have the overall effect of allowing unfair treatment within the society as a whole to seem fair, or ‘natural.’

Diwali, or Dipawali, one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, lasting for five days from the 13th day of the dark half of the lunar month Ashvina to the second day of the light half of the lunar month Karttika, is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. To learn more about the celebration of Diwali and ways you can honor this day, click on the link below.


Diversity – The Bible insistently reveals that God loves diversity and justice. This is seen in the wide variety of creation in which God delights. It is heard in the words of the prophets, who reject oppression and commend justice as true worship. It is embodied in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who resists the power of empire and values all persons, regardless of status, as children of God.
Source: PC (USA) Facing Racism – Churchwide Antiracism Policy – Vision Statement.

Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender—the groups that most often come to mind when the term “diversity” is used—but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.
Source: Racial Equity Tools Glossary.

Equality – ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents, and believing that no one should have poorer life chances because of where, what or whom they were born, what they believe, or whether they have a disability. Equality recognizes that historically, certain groups of people with particular characteristics (race, disability, sex and sexuality) have experienced discrimination.
Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Ethnicity – a social construct that divides people 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).

SOURCE: Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin, Routledge, 1997.

Food Apartheid – First coined by Karen Washington, food sovereignty leader, to illuminate the root causes behind “food desert,” food apartheid is a system of segregation that divides those with access to an abundance of nutritious food and those who have been denied that access due to systemic injustice. 



An area where people have very limited access to healthy, affordable food. Somebody living in a food desert faces daily obstacles preventing them from going to a grocery store and buying fresh, nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.  The USDAA identifies two types of food deserts:

  1. Low income, urban areas where a significant number of people lives farther than a mile away from the nearest grocery store
  2. Low income, rural areas where people live more than 10 miles away from the nearest grocery store


Food insecurity is defined as a “a lack of consistent access to enough food for a healthy, active life.”  Food insecurity is a much broader, more complex topic than food deserts alone.


The Food Justice Movement works to ensure universal access to nutritious, affordable, and culturally-appropriate food for all, while advocating for the well-being and safety of those involved in the food production process. The movement aims to address disparities in food access, particularly for communities of color and low-income communities, by examining the structural roots of our food system. Food Justice addresses questions of land ownership, agricultural practices, distribution of technology and resources, workers’ rights, and the historical injustices communities of color have faced. Food Justice is closely intertwined with environmental justice and sustainability movements.


Unlike in food deserts, people in food swamps do have access to healthy options like fruits and vegetables. The problem is that they are flooded with less nutritious alternatives like fast food restaurants and convenience stores that sell junk food and soft drinks.



The Great Migration was the movement of some six million African Americans from the rural South to the urban North between 1916 and 1970. It occurred in two waves, before and after the Great Depression. At the beginning of the 20th century, 90 percent of black Americans lived in the South. By 1970, nearly half of all African Americans lived in Northern cities. Many moved because of poor economic conditions in the South and ongoing racial oppression from Jim Crow laws. Reports from the North of good wages and better living conditions also motivated many to move there.

The greater economic and educational opportunities in the North led to an explosion of artistic expression in music and literature, seen in the Harlem Renaissance and the sound of blues music. The Great Migration was a factor in desegregating sports, and in leading to the Civil Rights movement.


An excellent resource on this time in our history is “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed into law and signed by President Obama on October 28, 2009. This Act expanded the federal hate crime law, intended to protect against hate crimes committed on the basis of a person’s characteristics of race, religion, ethnicity, and nationality, to also include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Emmett Till Antilynching Act – The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was passed into law, and signed by President Biden on March 29, 2022. This Act amends the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” and defines lynching as any conspired bias-motivated offense that results in death or serious bodily injury.
Source: and

National Hispanic Heritage Month began as “Hispanic Week” in 1968 and expanded to a month, running from September 15 to October 15, in 1989. September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the commemoration because it is the anniversary of the Cry of Dolores, which marked the start of the Mexican War of Independence and resulted in independence in 1821 for what is now Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for recognizing the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements in the United States. During the month, the U.S. Army also commemorates the longstanding and remarkable contributions that Hispanics have made in building and defending the nation.



Inclusion – the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. Source: Building Bridges; UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October to honor the cultures and histories of the Native American people. The day is centered around reflecting on their tribal roots and the tragic stories that hurt but strengthened their communities.

To learn more about the history of Indigenous People’s Day and ways you can celebrate and honor this day, click on the link below.


Individual Racism includes the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. This can be deliberately done, or a person may act to perpetuate or support racism without knowing that they are doing so. For example, telling a racist joke, avoiding persons of color whom you do not know personally (like crossing the street to avoid such an encounter), believing in the inherent superiority of whites over other groups, or simply accepting things as they are and that they cannot be changed.
SOURCE: Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Internalized Racism – The situation that occurs in a racist system when a racial group oppressed by racism supports the supremacy and dominance of the dominating group by maintaining or participating in the set of attitudes, behaviors, social structures, and ideologies that undergird the dominating group’s power.

SOURCE and for more information: Donna Bivens, Internalized Racism: A Definition (Women’s Theological Center, 1995).

Interpersonal Racism – Interpersonal racism occurs between individuals as the name implies. It is when we bring our private beliefs into our interactions with others as in public expressions of racial prejudice, hate, bias, and bigotry between individuals. SOURCE: Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence and Terry Keleher (2004).

Intersectionality means exposing [one’s] multiple identities to help clarify the 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.

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw says that intersectionality is simply a prism to see the interactive effects of various forms of discrimination and disempowerment. It looks at the way that racism, many times, interacts with patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia and sees that the overlapping vulnerabilities created by these systems actually create specific kinds of challenges.

1. Intergroup Resources, “Intersectionality” (2012).
2. Otamere Guobadia, “Kimberlé Crenshaw and Lady Phyll Talk Intersectionality, Solidarity, and Self-Care” (2018).


Institutional Racism – The ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.

• Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as “red-lining”).
• City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.

SOURCE and for more information: Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).


Implicit biases, also known as unconscious or hidden bias, are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess.

SOURCE: Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University.

Reparation – States have a legal duty to acknowledge and address widespread or systematic human rights violations, in cases where the state caused the violations or did not seriously try to prevent them. Reparations initiatives seek to address the harms caused by these violations. They can take the form of compensating for the losses suffered, which helps overcome some of the consequences of abuse. They can also be future oriented—providing rehabilitation and a better life to victims—and help to change the underlying causes of abuse. Reparations publicly affirm that victims are rights-holders entitled to redress.

SOURCE: International Center for Transitional Justice.

Xenophobia is any attitude, behavior, practice, or policy that explicitly or implicitly reflects the belief that immigrants are inferior to the dominant group of people. Xenophobia is reflected in interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels oppression and is a function of White supremacy.

SOURCE: Lee Cokorinos, “The Racist Roots of the Anti-Immigration Movement,” The Black Agenda Report (2007).

Jim Crow laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. Named after a Black minstrel show character, the laws—which existed for about 100 years, from the post-Civil War era until 1968—were meant to marginalize African Americans by denying them the right to vote, hold jobs, get an education or other opportunities. This is the beginning of an article found at
Click on the link to learn more about this topic.

Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday. []

LGBTQ+: An acronym that collectively refers to individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, sometimes stated as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) or, historically, GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender). The addition of the Q for queer is a more recently preferred version of the acronym as cultural opinions of the term queer focus increasingly on its positive, reclaimed definition. The Q can also stand for questioning, referring to those who are still exploring their own sexuality and/or gender. The “+” represents those who are part of the community but for whom LGBTQ does not accurately capture or reflect their identity.

SOURCE: PFLAG National Glossary of Terms, June 2022 (accessed September 2022).

Marade is a combination of “march” and “parade.”  The annual Marade held in Denver is the only one of its kind. The term “Marade” was coined by Commission Chairperson Representative Wilma Webb; its meaning is to parade and celebrate the victories achieved in combating injustices that had occurred and to  march non-violently to always confront injustices in the future wherever they may be.  The first marade was held on January 20, 1986.  It is the second largest march and parade celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life.  This year’s marade is Monday, January 16, starting at 9:30 in Denver City Park.


also called social marginalization,  this occurs when a person or groups of people are less able to do things or access basic services or opportunities. It’s also sometimes referred to as social exclusion.


Microagression – a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority) also : behavior or speech that is characterized by such comments or actions.

Source: Microaggression.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster,

Mysogynoir is a word used to describe the specific combination of discriminatory racism and sexism that many Black women experience while accessing healthcare, housing, and other social services; the specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and prejudice directed toward Black women. SOURCE:

The links below highlight two resources for finding BIPOC businesses in our area. As you think about buying services and products this holiday season and beyond, you might find some great BIPOC owned businesses to support. Add these links to your tool bar favorites so they are top of mind!

Shop BIPOC and Support Small Business – ShopBIPOC (new businesses are added to this site on a regular basis, so check back often)

And, if you know of BIPOC owned businesses, please feel free to send them the ShopBIPOC link and encourage them to register their business.

The second resource is one that has been around for a while – The Colorado Black Pages. There is also a hard copy book out in community, but the digital version is quite helpful.

2022 Little Black Book – Flipbook – Page 1 (

People of color — Often the preferred collective term for referring to non-white racial groups, rather than “minorities.” Racial justice advocates have been using the term “people of color” (not to be confused with the pejorative “colored people”) since the late 1970s as an inclusive and unifying frame across different racial groups that are not white, to address racial inequities. While “people of color” can be a politically useful term, and describes people with their own attributes (as opposed to what they are not, eg: “non-white”), it is also important whenever possible to identify people through their own racial/ethnic group, as each has its own distinct experience and meaning and may be more appropriate.


Prejudice is a pre-judgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative, attitude of one type of individual or groups toward another group and its members. Such negative attitudes are typically based on unsupported generalizations (or stereotypes) that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics.

SOURCE: Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative, A Community Builder’s Tool Kit, Appendix I (2000).

Pride Month is a month-long observance in celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people—and the history, culture, and contributions of these people and their communities. Pride Month (and earlier events like Gay Pride Day) traces back to a parade held in New York City in 1970 to mark the one-year anniversary of what became known as the Stonewall Uprising. This event, sometimes referred to simply as Stonewall, started on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a New York City bar frequented by gay and gender non-conforming people (at a time when terms like LGBTQ didn’t yet exist). Source:

The official Presbyterian position on LGTBQ+ people has evolved since 1970. In 1987, the General Assembly (PCUSA) eliminated church laws governing the private sexual behavior of consenting adults. Gay clergy became allowed in 2011 and gay marriage in 2015.
Source: PCUSA

Race – a social construct, not a biological fact. Historically, race and racial categorizations were created to support the view that some groups of people are superior and some are inferior. Race designations and the way racial categorizations are enforced have changed over time. Source: adapted from Racial Equity Tools Glossary

Racial Equity – the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity 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 that fail to eliminate them.

1. Center for Assessment and Policy Development.
2. OpenSource Leadership Strategies.

Racialization – the very complex and contradictory process through which groups come to be designated as being of a particular “race” and on that basis subjected to differential and/or unequal treatment. Put simply, “racialization [is] the process of manufacturing and utilizing the notion of race in any capacity.” While white people are also racialized, this process is often rendered invisible or normative to those designated as white. As a result, white people may not see themselves as part of a race but still maintain the authority to name and racialize “others.”

SOURCE: Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, “Racialization” (2018) / Calgary Anti-Racism Education, “CARED Glossary” (2020).

Racial Justice – The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures. Source: Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).

Racial profiling refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. It includes any action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection, that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin, or a combination of these, rather than on a reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment.




Racial stereotypes are reflexive and exaggerated mental pictures that we hold about all members of a particular racial group. These stereotypes are so rigid, people tend to ignore or discard any information that is not consistent with the stereotype that has developed about the racial group.

Source: Fitchburg State University Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library Anti-Racism Resources

Racial Wealth Gap: There is significant wealth inequality in the United States, and it is particularly unequal when we disaggregate measures of wealth by race. White households in the U.S. on average have 10 times more wealth than Black households and 8 times more wealth than Latinx households.
This difference in wealth between White households and Black and Latinx households is known as the racial wealth gap.

SOURCE: The Chicago Community Trust:

Racism – This definition has changed over time from referring to individual prejudice to now refer to the systemic and structural ways that our society is white-centered, white-dominant, and white-identified. It is an ongoing structure of society that gives advantage to whites at the expense of people of other racial groups. Racism is ingrained in almost every aspect of our culture and society. It affects us all – positively or negatively, directly or indirectly – on a daily basis. This definition of racism is structural and systemic. It does not apply to individuals and it is not concerned with personal feelings or attitudes. Source: PC(USA) Facing Racism Guide

A racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.

And, a racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between or among racial groups. Policies are written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies are also expressed through other terms such as “structural racism” or “systemic racism”. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.

SOURCE: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Racist Policies – any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between or among racial groups. Policies are written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies are also expressed through other terms such as “structural racism” or “systemic racism”. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.

SOURCE: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Related Resources: Laws and Policies

Reparations – States have a legal duty to acknowledge and address widespread or systematic human rights violations, in cases where the state caused the violations or did not seriously try to prevent them. Reparations initiatives seek to address the harms caused by these violations. They can take the form of compensating for the losses suffered, which helps overcome some of the consequences of abuse. They can also be future oriented—providing rehabilitation and a better life to victims—and help to change the underlying causes of abuse. Reparations publicly affirm that victims are rights-holders entitled to redress.

SOURCE: International Center for Transitional Justice.

Stereotype is a generalized perception ascribing particular traits, characteristics, values, aspect, appearance or behavior to a group or a member of a group without regard to its accuracy or applicability.

  • Explicit stereotype refers to stereotypes that an individual is aware that they hold, and they are aware that they are using to judge people.
  • Implicit stereotypes are those that an individual is not aware of; it is unconscious, and people are not aware of how they employ the stereotype in how they judge others.

Source: Fitchburg State University Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library Anti-Racism Resources

Structural Racism – The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.

For example, we can see structural racism in the many institutional, cultural, and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress, and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access, and quality of care, and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things.

1. Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change, and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, for the Race and Public Policy Conference (2004).
2. Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Although Systemic Racism and Structural Racism are closely related and indeed may be considered synonymous and used interchangeably, Systemic Racism is racism that exists across a society within, and  between institutions/organizations across society and refers to the complex interactions of large scale societal systems, practices, ideologies, and programs that produce and and perpetuate inequities for racial minorities.

If there is a difference between the terms, it can be said to exist in the fact that a structural racism analysis pays more attention to the historical, cultural, and social psychological aspects of our currently racialized society.

The key aspect of structural or systematic racism is that these macro-level mechanisms operate independent of the intentions and actions of individuals, so that even if individual racism is not present, the adverse conditions and inequalities for racial minorities will continue to exist.

Source:; Gee & Ford, 2011  Aspen Institute)

Tokenism is, simply, covert racism. Racism requires those in power to maintain their privilege by exercising social, economic, and/or political muscle against people of color (POC). Tokenism achieves this while giving those in power the appearance of being non-racist and even champions of diversity because they recruit and use POC as racialized props.

Examples include:
• Recruiting POC to formal leadership positions while keeping all the power.
• Only hiring POC for POC “stuff.”
• Convening Special “Diversity Councils” without building POC leadership in positions of power.
• Using POC as a mouthpiece and shield against other POC.

SOURCE: Helen Kim Ho, “8 Ways People of Color are Tokenized in Nonprofits,” The Nonprofit Revolution (2017).

Transgender: Often shortened to trans, from the Latin prefix for “on a different side as.” A term describing a person’s gender identity that does not necessarily match their assigned sex at birth. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically to match their gender identity. This word is also used as an umbrella term to describe groups of people who transcend conventional expectations of gender identity or expression—such groups include, but are not limited to, people who identify as transsexual, genderqueer, gender variant, gender diverse, and androgynous. “Trans” is often considered more inclusive than transgender because it includes transgender, transsexual, transmasc, transfem, and those who simply use the word trans.

Misgender: To refer to an individual using a word, especially a pronoun or form of address, which does not correctly reflect their gender. This may be unintentional and without ill intent or can be a maliciously employed expression of bias. Regardless of intent, misgendering has a harmful impact.

SOURCE: PFLAG National Glossary of Terms, June 2022 (accessed September 2022).

Tribalism is the state of being organized by, or advocating for, tribes or tribal lifestyles. Human evolution has primarily occurred in small hunter-gatherer groups, as opposed to in larger and more recently settled agricultural societies or civilizations. With a negative connotation and in a political context, tribalism can also mean discriminatory behavior or attitudes towards out-groups, based on in-group loyalty.


The Tulsa Race Massacre took place May 31 – June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked Black residents and destroyed homes and businesses in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. After World War, I, the Greenwood District was nationally recognized as a thriving business and residential area known colloquially as “Black Wall Street.”

On the morning of May 30, a young Black man, Dick Rowland, was riding in an elevator with a white woman, the elevator operator. At some point, the woman screamed, and Rowland fled the scene. The police were called and Rowland was arrested the next morning.

Rumors circulated and an angry white mob gathered outside the courthouse demanding the sheriff hand over Rowland. The sheriff refused. Armed Black men came to the courthouse to help stand guard.
At some point, there was a confrontation, shots were fired, and chaos broke out. The Black men, outnumbered by about 1,500 to 75, retreated to the Greenwood District.

Over the next several hours, groups of white men committed numerous acts of violence against Black people. Under the false belief that a large-scale insurrection among Black Tulsans was underway, fueled the hysteria and, on June 1, thousands of white citizens poured into the Greenwood District, looting and burning homes and businesses. It was estimated that 1, 256 homes were burned and 215 others were looted.

In response, the governor declared martial law and some 6,000 Black citizens were placed under armed guard. Although 36 people were officially recorded as dead, historians now estimate the death toll may have been as high as 300. The Tulsa Race Massacre stands as one of the deadliest riots in American History.

Sources: ;


1. The term white, referring to people, was created by Virginia slave owners and colonial rules in the 17th century. It replaced terms like Christian and Englishman to distinguish European colonists from Africans and indigenous peoples. European colonial powers established whiteness as a legal concept after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, during which indentured servants of European and African descent had united against the colonial elite. The legal distinction of white separated the servant class on the basis of skin color and continental origin. The creation of ‘whiteness’ meant giving privileges to some, while denying them to others with the justification of biological and social inferiority.
2. Whiteness itself refers to the specific dimensions of racism that serve to elevate white people over people of color. This definition counters the dominant representation of racism in mainstream education as isolated in discrete behaviors that some individuals may or may not demonstrate, and goes beyond naming specific privileges (McIntosh, 1988). Whites are theorized as actively shaped, affected, defined, and elevated through their racialization and the individual and collective consciousness formed within it … Whiteness is thus conceptualized as a constellation of processes and practices rather than as a discrete entity (i.e. skin color alone). Whiteness is dynamic, relational, and operating at all times and on myriad levels. These processes and practices include basic rights, values, beliefs, perspectives, and experiences purported to be commonly shared by all but which are actually only consistently afforded to white people.

2. PBS, “Race: The Power of an Illusion” (2018–2019 relaunch of 2003 series).
3. Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility” (International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 2011).

White Privilege – The unearned, mostly unacknowledged social advantage white people have over other racial groups simply because they are white. Source: adapted from Racial Equity Tools Glossary.

Xenophobia is any attitude, behavior, practice, or policy that explicitly or implicitly reflects the belief that immigrants are inferior to the dominant group of people. Xenophobia is reflected in interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels oppression and is a function of White supremacy.

SOURCE: Lee Cokorinos, “The Racist Roots of the Anti-Immigration Movement,” The Black Agenda Report (2007).

Black Lives Matter

21 Day Racial Equity Challenge

You are invited to join us and churches around the nation in a 21-day racial equity challenge. Through exposure to a variety of voices in videos, podcasts, and articles, we can listen, learn and grow, and be equipped to help make real change.

Thank you to Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte for adapting and sharing these valuable resources.