Equity-Informed Definitions: 

Anti-racist+ – Someone who supports antiracist policy through their actions and expresses antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and actively supporting policies that promote racial equity.

Cultural Appropriation+ – Theft of cultural elements for one’s own use, commodification, or profit — including symbols, art, language, customs, etc. — often without understanding, acknowledgement, or respect for its value in the original culture. Results from the assumption of a dominant (i.e. white) culture’s right to take other cultural elements.

Cultural & Historical Trauma: Historical trauma is held personally and is transmitted across generations. Family members who may have not experienced the trauma directly can still feel the effects of the event later. When members who share the same identity, such as skin color, sex, gender, or orientation feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves permanent marks that impact their memories and changes their identity in irrevocable ways, grounding their identity formation forever. Examples of cultural or historical trauma include American slavery, The Trail of Tears, and the Holocaust

Discrimination* – The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, and other categories.

Diversity+ – Encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term “diversity” is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.

Historical Trauma – Multigenerational trauma experienced by a specific cultural, racial, or ethnic group. It is related to major events that oppressed a particular group of people because of their status as oppressed, such as slavery, the Holocaust, forced migration, and violent colonization.

Implicit Bias+ – Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold and that are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess.

Inclusion+ – Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power.

Intersectionality+ – Per Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, “Intersectionality is simply a prism to see the interactive effects of various forms of discrimination and disempowerment. It looks at the way that racism, many times, interacts with patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia — seeing that the overlapping vulnerabilities created by these systems actually create specific kinds of challenges. “Intersectionality 102,” then, is to say that these distinct problems create challenges for movements that are only organized around these problems as separate and individual. So when racial justice doesn’t have a critique of patriarchy and homophobia, the particular way that racism is experienced and exacerbated by heterosexism, classism etc., falls outside of our political organizing. It means that significant numbers of people in our communities aren’t being served by social justice frames because they don’t address the particular ways that they’re experiencing discrimination.”

Microaggressions+ – The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. [Note: Micro does not imply these aggressions are small, but rather that they happen on a micro/individual level. Microaggressions can have an immense impact.]

Oppression* – The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

  • the oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others
  • the target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them)
  • genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going
  • members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct

Oppression = Power + Prejudice

Prejudice* – An attitude based on limited information, often on stereotypes. Prejudice is usually, but not always, negative. Positive and negative prejudices alike, especially when directed toward oppressed people, are damaging because they deny the individuality of the person.

Racial Equity+ – Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.

Racial Trauma – also known as race-based traumatic stress, refers to the stressful impact or emotional pain of one’s experience with racism and discrimination. Common traumatic stress reactions that reflect racial trauma include increased vigilance and suspicion, increased sensitivity to threat, sense of a foreshortened future, and maladaptive responses to stress such as aggression or substance use. Further, racial trauma can have a negative impact on individuals’ physical and mental health.

Racism* – Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices.

  • Racism = race prejudice + social and institutional power
  • Racism = a system of advantage based on race
  • Racism = a system of oppression based on race
  • Racism = a white supremacy system

White fragility+ – A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable for white people, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.

White privilege+ – The unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits, and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white in a white supremacist culture.

White supremacy* – ​The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, inhuman, and undeserving. The term also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

*From dRworks

+From Racial Equity Tools

Trauma-Informed Definitions: 

Adverse Childhood Experiences 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refers to frequently occurring sources of stress that children may suffer from during the first 18 years of life. If not addressed, they can cause trauma, which negatively affects brain development, socio-emotional behavior, and long-term health. ACEs generally fall into three categories: abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), neglect (emotional or physical), and household dysfunction (violence directed at an adult living in the home; a household member experiencing substance abuse; a household member experiencing mental illnessparental separationdivorce, or death; a household member who is currently or formerly incarcerated). As the number and frequency of ACEs increase, so do the negative, and sometimes lifelong, effects on children’s intellectual, emotional, and physical health.

Source: CDC

Childhood Trauma 

Childhood trauma is stress that occurs when a child is overwhelmed by events or circumstances and responds with intense fear, horror, and/or helplessness. Trauma is a stress-induced state cause by a child’s perception of adverse childhood experience(s), causing intense emotional or physical harm; this often impairs executive functioning, making it difficult, if not impossible, for a child to learn, remember things, control impulses, regulate emotions, and work towards long term goals.

Source: Futures without Violence


Resilience is the ability to overcome serious hardship. The single most important factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.

Source: Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

Toxic Stress 

Toxic stress is excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body and brain. Without the buffering care of a supportive adult, it can change children’s brains and bodies, including disrupting learning, behavior, immunity, growth, hormonal systems, immune systems, and even the way DNA is read and transcribed.

Source: Center for Youth and Wellness


In this text, the term “trauma” refers to experiences that cause intense physical and psychological stress reactions. It can refer to a single event, multiple events, or a set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically and emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

Source: SAMSHA

Trauma-Informed Care 

Trauma-informed care is a strengths-based service delivery approach that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.

Source: SAMSHA


A trauma-informed approach to the delivery of behavioral health services includes an understanding of trauma and an awareness of the impact it can have across settings, services, and populations. It involves viewing trauma through an ecological and cultural lens and recognizing that context plays a significant role in how individuals perceive and process traumatic events, whether acute or chronic. A trauma-informed approach will include four key elements: (1) realizing the prevalence of trauma; (2) recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved with the program, organization, or system, including its own workforce; (3) responding by putting this knowledge into practice; and (4) resisting retraumatization. A trauma-informed approach can be implemented in any service delivery setting (schools, courts, health care, etc). 

Source: SAMSHA