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Department of Psychology

1000 E University Ave.

Dept. 3415

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-6303

Glossary of Diversity Terms

A person in a privileged status who is actively working to identify their varying degrees of privilege and resist the system of oppression that makes them privileged. Allies are about action and continued growth, not about a static identity. An ally is a person whose commitment to dismantling oppression is reflected in a willingness to continually do the following:

  • Educate oneself about oppression
  • Learn from and listen to people who are targets of oppression
  • Examine and challenge one’s own prejudices, stereotypes, and assumptions
  • Work through feelings of guilt, shame, and defensiveness to understand what is beneath them and what needs to be healed
  • Be willing to listen when others identify and call-in aspects of their privilege that were being ignored
  • Learn and practice the skills of challenging oppressive remarks, behaviors, policies, and institutional structures
  • Act collaboratively with members of the target group to dismantle interpersonal and systematic oppression

The tendency to think, feel, or behave in a certain way, which arises alongside the natural processes of generalization and categorization influenced by social categories and distinctions related to power.

A learned and variable (changing) system of meanings that are shared and transmitted by an identifiable group of people and represent a way of living. It is fluid and dynamic. Systems of meanings encompassed include social norms, values, beliefs, and behaviors, as well as more concrete things like food, art, architecture/buildings, music, etc. Culture has modal practices (what “most” people do within a culture that characterizes that culture) as well as an individual manifestation (how a particular individual engages with or reflects a culture).

Within our conceptualization, discrimination is the manifestation of prejudicial beliefs against a certain person, or group of people, that contributes to the systematic oppression of a people.

Refers to the appreciation of all unique identities while simultaneously emphasizing equity and social justice for marginalized communities and protected classes of people.

The distinctive cultural patterns shared by a group of people that are unified by a common geographic origin and common history. Ethnicity is differentiated from race (below) by its emphasis on cultural patterns, rather than power hierarchies.

A framework used to describe the ways in which oppression within society, such as those based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, class, and ability are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. They create a system of oppression that reflects the intersection of multiple forms of discrimination, where each system affects the basic nature of the experience of other systems.

Refers to a group of people that possess less power than the majority culture. A marginalized community may or may not be a federally protected class of people.

Any group of people having less structural privilege (and, therefore, personal power) in society.

The combination of prejudice and institutional power and privilege which creates a system that discriminates against some groups and benefits other groups. Examples of these systems are racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism, ageism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Islamism. These systems enable dominant groups to exert control over target groups by limiting their rights, freedom, and access to basic resources such as health care, education, employment, and housing.

The ability to exert influence over an outcome, or a person’s actions, feelings, or thoughts.

The power and advantages one holds as a result of belonging to a dominant group or a group that is of higher social status. It is a social phenomenon and not a property of individuals. Here, we are referencing unearned privilege, rather than merit (power earned through effort).

Refers to the classes or groups of people who have federally recognized protections aimed to prevent discrimination based on group identity. These protections are in place given the historical and systematic oppression these groups have experienced throughout history. These groups include: race/color/ethnicity, religion, sex, age, physical and mental (dis)ability, veteran status, genetic information and citizenship. Given historical efforts to include sexual orientation and gender identity under the federally protected class of “sex,” and current efforts fighting for sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class in the Supreme Court, the Committee recognizes these two classes (i.e., sexual orientation and gender identity) as protected classes.

A social category to which individuals are assigned by themselves and others, usually on the basis of physical characteristics, such as skin color. Although related to physical characteristics such as skin color, racial categories and their distinctions are not biological, genetic, or inherent. Rather, race is a social construct that has historically been created and maintained to differentiate those who are “entitled” to power and resources and those who are not.

Refers to systems or institutions (such as legal, education, health care, social service, government, & criminal justice systems) that methodically mistreat people within a social identity group through established laws, customs, and practices that culminates in institutional inequalities.

Refers to oppression that affects entire organizations or institutions.

  • Systematic oppression can occur systemically, meaning that it affects entire organizations or institutions. Systematic oppression often leads to systemic oppression, though not all oppression that occurs within institutions is systematic.


Contact Us

Department of Psychology

1000 E University Ave.

Dept. 3415

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-6303

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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