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The following terms are given to provide a better understanding of diversity, cultural competency, social justice, and the work of Inclusion & Diversity Engagement. For questions, please visit us in our office at 308-A Student Center or email [email protected].


Treating someone negatively because of their actual or perceived:

  • Age
  • Creed
  • (Dis)ability
  • Ethnic or national origin
  • Gender, gender identity, or gender expression
  • Marital status
  • Political or social affiliation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation

Some examples of bias incidents include:

  • Telling jokes
  • Name-calling
  • Stereotyping
  • Offensive graffiti
  • Avoiding or excluding others

Bias stems from:

  • Fear
  • Misunderstanding
  • Hatred
  • Stereotypes


Intolerant prejudice, which glorifies one's own group, but denigrates members of other groups.

Cultural Competency

Cultural competence is the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural competence encompasses:

  • Being aware of one's own worldview
  • Developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences
  • Gaining knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews
  • Developing skills for communication and interaction across cultures

"Being culturally competent does not mean you are an authority on the values and beliefs of every culture. What it means is that you hold a deep respect for cultural differences and are eager to learn, and willing to accept that there are many ways of viewing the world."

~ Dr. Okokon O. Udo


Unequal treatment of people based on their membership in a group is discrimination. In contrast to prejudice, discrimination is behavior. To discriminate is to treat a person, not on the basis of their intrinsic individual qualities, but on the basis of prejudgment about a group. Discrimination can be either de jure (legal as in segregation laws) or de facto (discrimination in fact without legal sanction.)


Ethnocentrism is the belief of superiority in one's personal ethnic group and is a major reason for divisions amongst members of different ethnicities, races, and religious groups in society.


Inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination. The mark of an inclusive society is one in which people are open, accepting and supportive of all other persons, enabling them to participate fully in life, the community and the world.


Intersectionality is the study of intersections of power dynamics, such as gender, race, ability, class and sexual orientation and how these socio-cultural categories contribute to social inequality, marginity and oppression.


To relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group.


Behaviors or statements that do not necessarily reflect malicious intent but which nevertheless can inflict insult or injury.


Oppression is the systematic exploitation of one social group by another for its own benefit. It involves institutional control, ideological domination, and the imposition of the dominant group's culture on the oppressed group. Oppression is different from discrimination, bias, prejudice or bigotry because:

  • It is pervasive, woven throughout social institutions as well as embedded within individual consciousness.
  • It is restricting. Structural limits significantly shape a person's life chances and a sense of possibility in ways beyond the individual's control.
  • It is hierarchical. The dominant or privileged groups benefit, often in unconscious ways, from the disempowerment of subordinated or targeted groups.


A positive or negative attitude toward a person or group, formed without just grounds or sufficient knowledge, will not be likely to change in spite of new evidence or contrary argument. Prejudice is an attitude. Attitudes or opinions, especially of a hostile nature, are based on prejudgment and insufficient information.


A general term to describe people who are Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Pacific Islanders and White. Everyone has an ethnicity, even White folks. However, when the term is used to abbreviate "racial and ethnic minority," it generally describes all these groups except Whites.


Racial and cultural prejudice and discrimination, supported intentionally or unintentionally by institutional power and authority, used to the advantage of one race and the disadvantage of other races. The critical element that differentiates racism from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviors in systemic ways with far-reaching outcomes and effects. The combination of the power to dominate by one race over other races or ethnic groups that is grounded in historical assumptions and prejudice that the dominant race is innately superior to the others. Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred or discrimination. Racism involves having the power to carry out systematic discriminatory practices through the major institutions of our society.

  • Institutional or Systemic Racism

The established social patterns that support, implicitly or explicitly, racist value systems. It is fulfilled through policies and understandings of official corporate organizations.

  • Personal Racism

The individual expressions - attitudes and/or behaviors - that accept the assumptions of a racial value system and maintain the benefits of the system.


The arbitrary assigning of habits, abilities, or expectations to a person or group of people based on their race, gender or other visible characteristics is stereotyping. It is a process in which we tend to treat all members of a particular group as being alike. Fixed impressions or exaggerated or preconceived ideas about particular social groups are usually based on race, gender or other visible characteristics.

The danger in relying on stereotypes to guide our thoughts and actions stems from their being:

  • Simplified ideas, whether negative or positive in nature
  • Overgeneralizations that do not represent all, or perhaps even most individuals within a group
  • Designed to enhance our own self-identity
  • The foundation for prejudice and discrimination
  • Obstacles in getting to know others for who they are versus who we think they might be

Stereotypes are unfortunately learned at a young age, and they remain, as most mental models do, untested, unchallenged, confused with reality. Common sources of stereotypes include parents, other family members, educators, peers, media, etc. Even "positive" stereotypes are harmful to those they target. They, like negative stereotypes, result in negative self-image, stress, mental illness, pressure to conform, and ineffective intercultural interactions.


A fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is different or foreign to oneself.


ACECQA, A. (2016, July 13). What does it mean to be culturally competent? Retrieved August 18, 2017, from

Boise State University. Glossary.


Marginalization. Merriam Webster.

Runyowa, S. (2015, September 18). Microaggressions Matter. Retrieved August 18, 2017, from

Udo, Okonon. (n.d.) Retrieved August 18, 2017, from

Xenophobia. Merriam Webster.