The Terms We Use
Antiracist education is an approach to learning that seeks to identify, oppose, and overturn racism in schools and society. It begins with the understanding that racial structures and beliefs from the past continue to affect all people in the present, including in schools. It affirms that educators have a responsibility to recognize and counter racism and to use instruction and curriculum proactively to achieve social transformation and a better future for all students.
Critical consciousness is the ability to recognize systems of inequality and the commitment to act against these systems. For more, see Research Brief.
Curriculum is the content, materials, activities, and strategies that teachers choose and use for instruction.
Discrimination is the unequal allocation of goods, resources, and services, and the limitation of access to full participation in society based on individual membership in a particular social group; it is reinforced by law, policy, and cultural norms that allow for differential treatment based on identity.1
A dominant narrative is a story or explanation that reflects the perspective and interests of the dominant social group, which may not be the majority, and excludes or minimizes other perspectives. Dominant narratives are reinforced by repetition: they appear in curriculum, media, and popular culture so often that they’re widely seen as objective and apolitical. In fact, they are neither objective nor apolitical.
Equity is the process of reforming practices, policies, and procedures at the school and district levels to support academic fairness and inclusion. This ensures every child has everything they need like resources, teachers, interventions, to be successful.2
Justice is a system (or process) that treats all humans as equally valuable and ensures equitable and fair opportunities for each person. Injustice is the quality of being treated unfairly or denied rights enjoyed by others.
Oppression results when groups in power take actions, make policies, or establish norms that deny opportunities, rights, and freedoms to a target group. The dominant group benefits economically, socially, or politically by devaluing and exploiting the target group.
Race is the false idea that physical traits like hair, skin color, and facial features are significant markers that separate human beings into distinct groups with their own characteristics. This false idea assumes that these separate groups are not equal and has been used to justify social and legal inequality. The idea arose during European colonization of the Americas to justify exploitation of Black and Indigenous people. For more, see Recognize Race Research Brief.
- Racism. In North America, racism encompasses economic, political, social and institutional actions and beliefs that perpetuate an unequal distribution of privileges, resources, and power between white people and peoples of color. A common shorthand is that prejudice + power = racism. CARE uses prejudice when describing individual actions and beliefs.
- Racialization is a process by which understandings and ideas about race are formed and assigned to groups of people, resulting in racial disparities and differential treatment. Because race is a social construct – an invention – ideas and understanding shift over time and place. Regardless, racialization means that all people are affected by their society’s understandings and ideas about race.
Perspective is the “point of view” from which an individual sees, experiences, and processes events. Perspective is shaped by each person’s social identities, beliefs, values, interests, and prior experience. Because of this, a diverse group of people can experience the same event or see the same set of facts quite differently.
Perspective-taking is the ability to cognitively perceive and understand a situation from another person’s point of view and is a crucial aspect of human development that leads to empathy, bias reduction, creativity, and the ability to resolve conflicts.
Privilege: A right, benefit, or advantage accorded to members of a dominant group that is withheld from members of a non-dominant or marginalized group.
A system is an interconnected set of organized elements that achieves a particular outcome. The elements of a system may include people, organizations, policies, and things that work in relation to each other for a purpose. Understanding systems means seeing the big picture and how all the parts work together. For more, see Just Systems Research Brief.
1National Conference for Community and Justice
2 Positive Action