These definitions begin to contextualize many of the terms you are likely seeing across the news, social media and in daily conversation with your Black and non-Black peers.

Are there other terms you’d like for us to explore further? Tell us! Email us at hello@iamzine.com or DM us on IG: @i.amzine

A lifelong process of acting with others in pursuit of ending oppression, advancing inclusion and creating a culture of equity. Those striving to be allies should seek opportunities to continuously learn and unlearn, take action, grow self-awareness, partner with and create space to amplify the voices of those facing injustice. Note that being an ally is not self-defined - it is individually earned by establishing trust and determined by those whom you stand up with.

Roxane Gay highlights a problem with allyship in the movement for Black lives: good intentions are simply not enough. She states, “Black people do not need allies. We need people to stand up and take on the problems borne of oppression as their own, without remove or distance. We need people to do this even if they cannot fully understand what it’s like to be oppressed for their race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion, or other marker of identity.”

Source: Roxane Gay, "On Making Black Lives Matter"

The inability to recognize Black humanity. It captures the reality that the kind of violence that saturates Black life is not based on any specific thing one who has been racialized Black has done. Violence experienced as a result of anti-Blackness is not tied to a particular transgression. It is gratuitous and unrelenting.

Source: Dr. kihana miraya ross, “Call it What it Is: Anti-Blackness”

An individual who actively fights against white supremacy, anti-Blackness, systemic racism, discrimination and bias. This person has made the bold decision to shift and dismantle power structures and systems of oppression as well as make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection as one moves through life as well as a consistent analysis of the ways in which power is organized in society. Being actively anti-racist is the objective and is critically different from claiming not to be racist.

Source: National Museum of African American History & Culture, n.d.

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It does not mean that only Black lives matter or that Black lives matter more than all lives. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, contributions to this society, and resilience in the face of deadly oppression. All Lives Matter is a dangerous rebuttal to this intervention, even if said with good intentions or as an attempt to increase inclusivity and togetherness. It works to deracialize a movement and take the focus away from the disproportionate killing and disregard for Black lives.

Source: Black Lives Matter

Casual racism is characterized by and stems from harmful prejudices and stereotypes related to race, skin color and/or ethnicity. Racist acts can include off-handed jokes or comments, disapproving glances, exclusionary body language, and turning a blind eye to or denying the existence of racism or injustice. It’s important to remember that even if not overt or intended to cause offense, acts of casual racism are equally as harmful.

In Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society, Christopher Doob writes that "color-blind racism" represents "whites' assertion that they are living in a world where racial privilege no longer exists, but their behavior supports racialized structures and practices." The color-blind racist believes that we exist in an open society, which offers opportunity and success to all, and that “more than a cursory concern with race-related issues and, in particular, with limitations or restrictions particular groups face is neither necessary nor appropriate.”

Source: Christopher Doob, Social Inequality and Social Stratification in U.S. Society

The act of taking on or adopting elements of a group’s culture by those outside of it. On the surface, it can be perceived as a form of cultural exchange between groups. However, this act can become problematic when cultural elements are adopted inaccurately or stereotypically, done without proper consent or acknowledgement from the original group, or exploited by those in power typically for profit.

Source: Julia Lucero Orebaugh, "Terminology to Know as a Social Justice Activist"

A theoretical framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social and political identities (e.g., gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, physical appearance, height etc.) might combine to create unique modes of discrimination and privilege. For example, a Black woman might face discrimination from a business that is not distinctly due to her race (because the business does not discriminate against Black men) nor distinctly due to her gender (because the business does not discriminate against white women), but due to a unique combination of the two factors. In the context of this zine, the intent is to consider our readership’s intersectional identities and provide content that does not discriminate on any aspect of a person’s identity.

Source: "Intersectionality" by Brittney Cooper via The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory

The term “microaggressions” was coined in 1970 by Harvard professor and psychiatrist, Dr. Chester Pierce. He was studying the persistent presence of stigmatizing representations of Black people in television. He defined it as “subtle, stunning, often automatic and nonverbal exchanges which are “put-downs” of Black people.” Psychologist Derald Wing Sue expanded the definition to include “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults to [individuals or groups targeted for marginalization].”

Source: Zoe Nochlin, "A Black Lives Matter Resource Guide for the Boomers Who Think Reform and Abolition Are The Same Thing"

Comes from a social media movement, “I Am Muted” held during the first week of June 2020. The movement asked non-Black social media users to avoid sharing their own content from June 1st to June 7th. Instead, using the hashtags #amplifymelanatedvoices and #mutewhitenoise, the challenge aimed to bring Black people’s voices and lived experiences to the forefront.

Source: Filiz Mustafa, "Black Lives Matter: 'I Am Muted' Social Media Movement is on the Rise"

POC is short for Person [or People] of Color and simply refers to anyone who is not white. The term BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. It is becoming increasingly more popular as it is more nuanced than POC and doesn’t treat the experiences of many individual races as one. It especially highlights the hardships and erasure of Black and Indigenous people and the unique relationship to whiteness they hold.

A society that is void of racial discord, discrimination or prejudice previously or historically present. It’s important to know that we do not exist in a post-racial society.

Launched in 2014 by the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, the #SayHerName campaign was created to broaden the dominant conception of who experiences state violence and what it looks like. It was meant to amplify the names and stories of Black women and girls who are also the victims of police brutality in the United States. Though routinely subject to anti-Black violence, killed, raped and beaten by police, Black women and their experiences are often erased from social movements and demands for reform and policy change. While it’s important to honor all killed at the hands of state violence, using hashtags such as #SayHisName to remember male victims, does muddle the initial reasoning behind the #SayHerName campaign.

Source: The African American Policy Forum (AAPF)

Racism doesn’t simply refer to a person’s beliefs or behaviors, it IS the system and is ingrained in societal structures, disadvantaging races that have been historically targeted for oppression. Due to the unjust practices, policies, laws and procedures that make up the very fabric of our society, racism allows for advantages based on skin color and persists within all systems including criminal justice, housing, health care, political, employment and education. Furthermore, racist systems and practices are often continuously cemented by groups holding institutional power (e.g., governments and corporations).

Discomfort, disbelief and defensiveness on the part of white people when confronted with information about racism, anti-Blackness, racial inequity and injustice. The term was coined in 2011 by Robin DiAngelo, an author, educator and sociologist, who posits that this fragility is due to a society that insulates white people from racial discomfort and places whiteness at the top of the racial hierarchy.

Source: Katy Waldman, "A Sociologist Examines the 'White Fragility' That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism"

Societal privileges that benefit white people beyond what is commonly experienced by Black, Indigenous and People of Color under the same social, political, and economic circumstances. It exists as a direct result of both historic and enduring racism, biases, and practices designed to oppress BIPOC. White privilege does not mean that a white person’s life has not been hard. It simply means that skin color is not one of the causes of those struggles.

Source: @soyouwanttotalkabout

Someone who seeks praise while othering those they claim to help with performative or self-serving actions. White saviors often look to be the voice of the “voiceless” as well as “fix” what they feel plight non-white nations or Black, Indigenous and people of color. They look to do so without partnering with the groups they wish to help and despite the fact that they lack insight into existing social movements or a region’s history, needs, culture or state of affairs.

Source: @officialmillennialblack

A multifaceted system in which whiteness is deemed both ideal and the norm and that marks Black, Indigenous and people of color as deviations from that norm. As described by scholar Frances Lee Ansley, it’s “a political, economic, and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily re-enacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.”

Source: Frances Lee Ansley, "White Supremacy: (And What We Should Do About It)"