2019-2020 Diversity Glossary


Language is powerful and significantly informs how we live and communicate. To help you navigate our richly diverse Andover community and engage in thoughtful and meaningful discourse with one another, we offer below some basic campus vocabulary. Please consider the following definitions as a starting point and not as an exhaustive list. We know that language is constantly changing and evolving and encourage you to continue to search for the appropriate words as you expand your understanding and knowledge of the wide tapestry that makes up the Andover community and the world. To suggest additions to the glossary, please be in touch with the CAMD director.

Ableism: The system of oppression based on ability. Assumes people with disabilities as flawed, insufficient, and inferior. Includes assumptions about what is “normal” and results in the marginalization of people with disabilities.

Acculturation: The process of learning and incorporating the language, values, beliefs, and behaviors that make up a distinct culture. This concept is not to be confused with assimila- tion, where an individual, family, or group may give up certain aspects of their own culture in order to adapt to that of their new host country.

Ally: Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and who works in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies commit to reducing their own complicity or collu- sion in oppression of those groups and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.

Anti‐Semitism: The fear and hatred of Jews, Judaism, and related symbols. It is sometimes manifested as prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.

Cis or Cisgender: Refers to individuals whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth.

Cisnormativity: The assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is cisgen- der and that cisgender identities are superior to trans* identities or people. Leads to invis- ibility of non-cisgender identities.

Class: As in upper, middle, lower class, working class; refers to people’s socioeconomic status based on factors such as wealth, occupation, education, income, and assets.

Classism: Prejudice or discrimination on the basis of social class. Includes individual atti- tudes and behaviors, as well as systems of policies and practices that are set up to benefit the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes.

Cultural Competence: The ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Cultural competence requires an awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, attitude toward cultural differences, knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and cross-cultural skills. Cultural competence is a developmental process that evolves over an extended period.

Disability: A condition or function judged to be significantly impaired relative to the usual standard of an individual or group. The term is used to refer to individual functioning, including physical, sensory, cognitive, and intellectual impairment, mental illness, and vari- ous types of chronic diseases.

Discrimination: Actions, based on conscious or unconscious prejudice, that favor one group over others in the provision of goods, services, or opportunities; unfavorable or unfair treatment toward an individual or group based on race, sex, color, religion, national origin, age, physical/mental abilities, or sexual orientation.

Diversity: The recognition of differences among people. These differences include but are not limited to ethnicity, religion, age, gender, class, culture, cognitive ability, physical ability, life experiences, family situations, and sexual orientation.

Equity: The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.

Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into groups based on characteristics such as a shared sense of group identity, values, culture, language, history, ancestry, and geography.

Feminism: A movement to end sexism and oppression based on gender and gender identity; the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities politically, socially, and economically.

Gay/Lesbian: Words used to describe people who are emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to some members of the same sex and/or gender.

Gender: A noun that can be usefully divided into two separate concepts. First, gender identity describes a person’s own internal—and often deeply held—sense of their gender. Many people have a gender identity of “man” or “woman” (or “boy” or “girl”), but for many others their gender identity does not fit into one of those two categories. Second, gender expression describes external manifestations of gender, including behavior, name, preferred pronouns, clothing, hairstyle, voice, and/or body characteristics. Society identifies these cues as masculine and feminine, although what is considered masculine and feminine changes over time and varies by culture. Gender expression should not be viewed as an indication of sexual orientation.

Global Awareness: The understanding of world and cultural perspectives. Awareness broadens from learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions, and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work, and community contexts.

Heteronormative: Denoting or relating to a worldview that naturalizes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.

Heterosexism: The system of oppression that assumes heterosexuality as the norm, favors heterosexuals, and denigrates and stigmatizes anyone whose gender or sexual behavior is considered non-heterosexual.

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.

Intercultural Competence: The ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in a variety of cultural contexts with people across cultures.

Intersectionality: The idea that classifications such as gender, race, and class—and others—cannot be examined in isolation from one another; they interact and intersect in individuals’ lives and in social systems and are mutually constitutive.

LGBTQIA+: An initialism that strives to include all non-(hetero)normative sexual and/or gender identities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, agender, and more.

Microaggressions: Subtle words, cues, and/or behaviors that insult, invalidate, or exclude traditionally marginalized group members. The long-term effect of microaggressions can have a significant negative impact on one’s health.

Oppression: The systemic devaluing, undermining, marginalizing, and disadvantaging of certain social identities in contrast to the privileged norm; when some people are denied something of value, while others have ready access. Oppression can be broken up into four levels: ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized.

Patriarchy: Structural and ideological system that perpetuates the privileging of particular kinds of masculinity and cisgender men. A system in which cisgender men have institutional control and dominance.

Prejudice: A preconceived judgment about a person or group of people, usually indicating negative bias.

Privilege: Systematic favoring, enriching, valuing, validating, and including of certain social identities over others. Individuals cannot “opt out” of systems of privilege; these systems are inherent to the society in which we live.

Race: A social construct that divides people into groups based on factors such as physical appearance, ancestry, culture, history, etc.; a social, historical, and political classification system.

Racism: A system of oppression involving subordination of members of targeted racial groups by those who have relatively more social power. This subordination occurs at the individual, cultural, and institutional levels.

Safe Space: Refers to an environment in which everyone feels comfortable in expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule, or denial of experience.

Sexism: A system of sex oppression that privileges men, subordinates women, and deni- grates women-identified value. This subordination occurs at the individual, cultural, and institutional levels.

Sexual Orientation: A noun that describes an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions. Some people experience their sexual orientation as static throughout life, while others experience it as changing or even fluid. Sexual orientation is different from gender identity and gender expression.

Social Justice: Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole.

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not indicate one’s sexual orientation.

Unconscious/Implicit Bias: A positive or negative mental attitude, held at an unconscious level, toward a person, thing, or group.

White Privilege: A set of benefits, including greater access to resources and power, that in many institutional contexts tends to be, and historically has been, bestowed upon people classified as white.

Xenophobia: Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.

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