Racial Literacy

Here I aim to create a list of terms and definitions around racial literacy.


When we think too little our judgments can be skewed by irrelevant information that we happened to see, hear, or think about a moment ago. This phenomenon is known as anchoring. Anchoring is one of the cognitive biases discovered by Tversky and Kahneman (1974)

Source: https://cocosci.princeton.edu/papers/AnchoringSimulations.pdf

Culturally Inclusive

A culturally inclusive environment requires mutual respect, effective relationships, clear communication, explicit understandings about expectations and critical self-reflection.

In an inclusive environment, people of all cultural orientations can:

● freely express who they are, their own opinions and points of view
● fully participate in teaching, learning, work and social activities
● feel safe from abuse, harassment or unfair criticism.

Source: https://www.usc.edu.au/ 


The everyday slights, indignities, put downs and insults that People of Color, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalized experiences in their day-to-day interactions with people.

Source: Derald W. Sue


A token status invokes the feeling of being responsible for representing one’s minority group favorably in any given domain. This feeling of responsibility or self-consciousness diverts the token’s attention from
the cognitive task at hand and therefore can result in deficits in problem solving and memory.

Source: Saenz, 1994


Exaggerated belief[s] associated with a [social] category

Source: Allport, 1979

Stereotype Threat

When students belong to a known group for which negative assumptions to intelligence exists a process called a stereotype threat can provoke responses which impair academic performance as well as
academic engagement (Steele and Aronson, 1995, Aronson et al, 2001).
Beasley and Fischer (2011) collate research in which the stereotype threat has been shown to reduces
academic attainment through physiological increases in blood pressure (Blascovich et al. 2001), a reduction in working memory (Schmader and Johns 2003) as well as protective disengagement from the task to save their self esteem (Aronson et al. 1998).

Source: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9280.00272


Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic – A UK specific term used to describe all would do not ascribe to the white label. Recently this label and the nature of the label have been described as problematic as it conflates the journeys and the lives of 80% of the world population into one category.

Pran Patel 2020

Global Majority (GM)

The BAME acronym but acknowledge the majority aspect of the world’s population and moves away from the minority word.

Pran Patel 2020

Individual Racism

Interpersonal racism occurs between individuals. Once we bring our private beliefs into our interaction with others, racism is now in the interpersonal realm.

Tools and Concepts for Strengthening Racial Equity, Presentation to School District U- 46, Terry Keleher,
Applied Research Center, 2011

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers specifically to 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.

Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building. Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens and Barbara Major. 2005

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.

Racial Justice Action Education Manual. Applied Research Center, 2003.

White Privilege

The lack of racial discrimination and disadvantage. Privilege can be split into the opposing definitions
of institutionalised, structural and individual racism.

Pran Patel 2020

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