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Key Terms

Here's a list of the language and terms we've been using amid our conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each is followed by a simple definition.

• Cultural Competency
Involves (1) knowledge of one’s own culture, (2) understanding of other cultures, (3) capability of applying cross cultural skills, (4) advocating for equity and social justice through inclusion
• Colorblindness
A sociological term for the disregard of racial characteristics.  This view actually contributes to racism because it invalidates people’s identity and their experiences, it narrows understanding of others, it equates color with something negative, it hinders tracking of racial disparities and it is disingenuous.  This is not best practices.

• Equity
This term refers to the principle of fairness.  While it is often used interchangeably with equality, equity encompasses a wide range of educational models, programs and strategies that may be considered fair but not necessarily equal. An equity lens takes into account history and current institutional and structural sources of inequity and takes explicit steps to build socail, economic and educational power for those affected.

• Deficit-Based Thinking
The practice of holding lower expectations for students with demographics that do not fit the traditional context of a school.

• Assimilation
Individual accepts and adopts values, cultural customs, beliefs, practices or new society. One must choose between one's original identity and the imposed new identity.

• Integration/ Acclimation
Retention of one’s personal culture and beliefs while pledging loyalty to newfound community – no one identity prevails. There is a blending of “core values” of the original culture and a welcoming of diverse perspectives. Student also acclimates themselves to the culture of a school but does not lose his/her core beliefs and culture.
• Identity
A person's conception and expression of their own (and others) individuality or group affiliations.
• Privilege
In the context of relations between social groups, privilege is an arbitrary or unearned advantage or benefit enjoyed by an individual or a group, based upon prejudicial and/or discriminatory norms, attitudes and practices.