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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Resources

This guide is designed to support the study and practical application of resources related to DEIA topics.

Background Information

Many of the terms and concepts captured on the pages of this guide are also referenced in the resource below:

Key Terms: General vocabulary used in DEI trainings and literature

Affinity Bias -  Unconscious preferences we have for people who are more like us.

Allyship - Allyship is a philosophy rooted in action; it demands doing what is necessary to recognize and subvert systems of oppression. Allyship is a process, is based on trust and accountability, looks different for everyone based on you identities, experiences, and spheres of influence, and is not self-defined (i.e., you don’t to label yourself as an “ally”).

Code-switching -  The practice of altering behavior, appearance, and language to fit in. Code-switching happens for many reasons, but in the DEI context, code-switching typically refers to the practice by people with marginalized identities of changing their behavior, appearance, and language to assimilate to the dominant culture and gain access to advantages experienced by people with dominant identities.

Confirmation Bias - Our tendency to interpret information based on a way that confirms our own previous beliefs and experiences.

Cultural competence(y) - The ability to interact effectively across various facets of diversity, to flex with differences. Cultural competence is what we need to be inclusive. It requires (1) being self-aware of your own culture, assumptions, values, styles, biases, attitudes, privilege, etc.; (2) understanding others’ cultures, assumptions, values, styles, biases, attitudes, privilege, etc.; and (3) based on this knowledge, understanding your potential impact on others and interacting with them in a situationally appropriate way.

Diversity - The differences among us based on which we experience systemic advantages or encounter systemic barriers in access to opportunities and resources. Race and ethnicity is not the only way in which we are diverse as a group. There are countless visible and invisible facets of diversity. Furthermore, a person cannot be “diverse” (as in “diverse candidate”). Diversity is the outcome of inclusion and equity efforts.

Equity -  An approach based in fairness to ensuring everyone has access to the same opportunities and resources. In practice, it ensures everyone is given equal opportunity to thrive; this means that resources may be divided and shared unequally to make sure that each person can access an opportunity. Equity is therefore not the same thing as equality. Equity takes into account that people have different access to resources because of system of oppression and privilege. Equity seeks to balance that disparity.

Inclusion -Celebrating, centering, and amplifying the perspectives, voices, values, and needs of people who experience systemic barriers, mistreatment, or disadvantages based on their identities in order to ensure they feel a sense of belonging. Inclusion is not merely tolerating or accommodating differences; it’s about actively valuing and honoring it. Inclusion is also not about surmounting, overcoming, or transcending differences to focus on “our common humanity.” Diversity is what we are, and inclusion is what we do.

Intersectionality -  A term coined by feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality originally was created to account for the ways in which black women experience both racism and sexism. The term has now expanded to account for the ways that an individual can experience multiple forms of oppression based on multiple marginalized identities. A salient quote on intersectionality is Audre Lorde’s quote “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

Marginalized Communities - Groups of people who face systemic disadvantages, exclusion, and barriers to opportunities, resources and power based on their identities, including but not limited to black, indigenous, and people of color, immigrants, refugees, undocumented Americans, people with disabilities, women, anybody who identifies outside or beyond the gender binary or not as cisgender, anybody who is not heterosexual, poor and/or low income communities.

Microaggressions - Unconscious everyday behaviors that often unintentionally disempower someone based on a marginalized identity (real or perceived). They can feel small or subtle to the person engaging in the microaggression, but the impact can be large for the recipient. If experienced chronically, a person can feel, “death by a thousand tiny cuts.” 

Norms - Refer to observable experiences within a community thar are not necessarily negative, are helpful and intended to guide people in their actions, are complex, and are often qualified by words such as “often,” “sometimes,” and “may.”

Oppression - The flip side of privilege, oppression constitutes mistreatment we experience or barriers and disadvantages we encounter by virtue of one or more of our identities, called “marginalized” or “disadvantaged” identities. Systems of oppression refer to systems of power in society that advantage certain groups over others, and include ideologies such as racism, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, elitism, classism, ableism, nativism, colonialism, ageism, and sizeism (collectively “the isms”).

Privilege - The flip side of oppression, privilege constitutes advantages we receive, consciously or not consciously, by virtue of one or more of our identities, called these “dominant identities”. These advantages are upheld by systems of power that advantage certain groups over others, and include ideologies such as racism, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, elitism, classism, ableism, nativism, colonialism, ageism, and sizeism (collectively “the isms”). Privilege is the freedom from stress, anxiety, fear of harm related to your identity.

Stereotypes -  Refer to the widely held, oversimplified ideas we hold about a person based on their identities (real or perceived). Usually, stereotypes are based on assumptions, popular opinion, or misinformation, are generally negative, are sweeping and simple, and are often characterized by words such as “always” and “never.”

Unconscious (or Implicit) Bias -  Unconscious, subtle, involuntary assumptions or judgments we make every day based on our prior experiences and culture.


"Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Vocabulary," The Avarna Group

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