The following is a list of terms and definitions that are often used in discussions and writings pertaining to issues of race and cultural diversity. Although some definitions are quite specific (e.g., ALANA), in many cases multiple, and perhaps contrasting definitions exist (e.g., racism) and may be used by different factions. In such cases, we have listed the multiple definitions for your consideration. We urge you to consider these terms and, more importantly, to decide which of these multiple definitions make the most sense to you.
affirmative action -- 1. (legal definition) a set of specific and result-oriented procedures, the objective of which is equal opportunity employment, to which a contractor commits itself to apply good faith effort; must include an analysis of areas within which the contractor is deficient in the utilization of women and minorities and goals and timetables to which the contractor's "good faith efforts" must be directed to correct the deficiencies and achieve full utilization of minorities and women at all levels and in all segements of its work force where deficiencies exist. 2. (alternative definition) any measure aimed at broadening access to America's prosperity that is often based on preferential policies. Examples include farm subsidies, FHA mortgage loans to specific home buyers, the GI bill to benefit particular courageous Americans, or scholarships to multicultural students.
ALANA -- acronym for African-Latino-Asian-Native American
American -- 1. individuals of diverse ancestry that are
U.S. citizens; 2. peoples indigenous to the Americas; 3. anyone
living in the U.S. for an extended period of time who thinks of
themself as an American; 4. a person who adopts mainstream
American culture (e.g., speaks English); 5. anyone living in North
or South America
culture - the concepts, habits, skills, arts, instruments, institutions of a given people in a given time period.
discrimination -- actions that make distinctions in treatment or show partiality; favoritism in treatment.
diversity -- 1. variety; multiformity; 2. in the ecological sense, it is an expression of the numbers and distribution of organisms of different species, high diversity is usually thought to be positive; 3. in the social sense, an expression of the numbers and distribution of individuals of different ethnic groups, cultures, national origins, or religious groups - high diversity is thought to be positive by some.
equal opportunity -- prohibition of discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, and national origin.
environmental equity -- equal protection by environmental laws for all people; may include intent, implementation, and enforcement of laws.
environmental justice -- broader in scope than environmental equity; refers to those cultural norms and values, rules, regulations, behaviors, policies, and decisions to support sustainable communities, where people can interact with confidence that their environment is safe, nurturing, and productive.
environmental racism -- the unequal protection against toxic and hazardous waste exposure and the systematic exclusion of people of color from environmental decisions affecting their communities; refers to rules, regulations, decisions, or policies that target certain communities for least desirable land uses.
ethnic group -- A group of people sharing a set of distinctive characterisitics of language, values, customs, artisitc expression, and family.
institutional racism -- policies, practices, or structures of an insitution or organization that lead, intentionally or unintentionally, to the suppression of a racial or ethnic group or culture; might not necessarily involve racist people.
minority -- 1. a racial, religious, or political group that is smaller than and differing from the larger controlling group of which it is part; 2. any group that is under-represented within a specific and described situational or geographic context.
Office of Multicultural Affairs -- an office and facility on the UVM campus that offers support for multicultural students, and racism and diversity training for the entire campus.
People of Color -- any non-caucasian; anyone who self-identifies as a person of color.
privilege -- a right, advantage, favor, or immunity granted, either consciously or unconsciously, to some person, group, or class that is not enjoyed by others.
prejudice -- unfavorable attitude, feeling, or opinion, formed without knowledge, thought, reason, or just ground; an affltude that can culminate in discriminatory behavior.
power -- the ability to exert influence over an object, a person, a group of people, an inanimate object, situation, outcome of events.
race -- 1. from a biological standpoint, population(s) within a species that differ from others in morphology and/or the relative frequency of some gene or genes; differences are often thought to be adaptive in nature; 2. from a social standpoint, a division of humankind based on an unsubstantiated perception of variation among groups in appearance, capabilities, and ancestry for the purpose of distinguishing or labeling groups.
racism -- 1. prejudice plus power; 2. a systematic denial, defamation and/or destruction of a people's humanity, history, culture, and /or right to freedom based exclusively or primarily on a species concept of race; 3. belief in the inherent superiority of one race; 4. treating people badly because of their ethnic or cultural group membership; 5. any recognition or consideration of race.
racist act -- an action or policy, whether intended or not, that excludes, deprives, or discriminates against an ethnic or cultural group or community.