Glossary

Glossary

The vocabulary used in antiracism and research on racism is constantly being updated. On this page, you will find useful terms related to this topic.

Antiracism

Active work to identify and eliminate racist customs, structures, practices, attitudes and other forms of racism in society and organisations. An antiracist person not only denies being a racist but acts actively against racism.


Brown

A term popularised by Koko Hubara, which is used synonymously with the word ‘racialised’ because of its negative implications.  


Cultural competence

Appreciation and respect for people from different cultures, which essentially involves creating a non-discriminatory environment. This competence consists of values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and understanding.


Cultural sensitivity

Desire, ability and sensitivity to understand people from different cultural backgrounds. The starting point is to treat each person as an individual with their own personal needs and characteristics. Everyone has the right to express their culture and still to be heard and accepted.


Diversity 

Includes not only features of a permanent nature (such as ethnicity), but also things that change over time. These include, but are not limited to the following: age; gender; functional capacity; health; family situation; education; and social and economic status.


Inclusion

The term inclusion often occurs in the context of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), meaning belonging and being part of something, i.e. the extent to which people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised are included in an activity, service or organisation.


Intersectionality

A single identity (such as race or gender) is not accurate enough to explain or explore an individual’s experience. In addition to gender, differences related to race, ethnicity, social class, sexuality and age also affect an individual’s position in society.


Microaggression 

An everyday expression, usually in the form of sexism or racism. Short or ordinary patterns of everyday behaviour, which may be verbal or non-verbal, and intentional or unintentional.

For example, racialising assumptions and messages that convey clumsiness and insensitivity, and that have a degrading tone. Also messages that exclude, deny, or invalidate thoughts, feelings, experiences, or question an individual’s inclusion in a particular group.


Minority stress

The additional burden and stress constantly experienced by the marginalised as a result of both direct and structural experiences of discrimination, stigmatising attitudes, prejudices or fears.

Due to an environment that discriminates and promotes othering, someone belonging to a minority may perceive the environment as threatening. They may constantly fear or anticipate discrimination. This can lead to hiding and concealing one’s own identity, which further increases stress and social isolation.

Minority stress can lead to problems with self-esteem and mental health, eating disorders and exclusion.


Multiculturalism

In working life, multiculturalism generally refers to citizenship, ethnicity, religion or language. Culture consists of both conscious and unconscious aspects. For example, outwardly visible things are ways of dressing, eating habits, ways of greeting and other habits. Unconscious aspects include an individual’s worldview and values, i.e. what is important to a person, what is shameful, what kind of behaviour is permissible, and who has the right to exercise power.

No one is bound to one culture, and no one ever represents the whole culture. The most natural and relevant features are always picked from cultures.


Othering

The disproportionate emphasis on difference, in which one considers oneself neutral, and anything different from it is seen as negative. Leads to isolation and exclusion of others and other harmful thought and behaviour patterns.


Race

Race does not refer to people’s biological characteristics such as skin colour but to a socially produced classification system based on physical characteristics and cultural factors such as clothing and language.


Racialisation

A process that leads to racist activities. It associates people with negative hierarchies, prejudices and assumptions due to their skin colour or their supposed ethnic background, for example.

Racialisation is determined by whiteness, against which racial segregation is founded. It is based on the idea that individuals with certain characteristics differ fundamentally from the main population.

The aim of racialisation is to establish segregation that justifies the unequal distribution of power.


Racism

The concept of race and the system formed by racialisation in which politics, customs, culture and practices, among other things, maintain a power structure according to which certain groups of people are inferior to others. Racism does not go both ways; it is always supported by the power structure.


A Safer space

The goal is to create a space where everyone has the right to a safe workplace, event or other similar space, to be themselves and to be respected for who they are. In a safer space, emphasis is placed on non-discrimination, communication skills and handling conflicts rather than tolerating them.


Unconscious bias

Assumptions that allow us to compartmentalise people quickly. A shortcut developed by our brain that leads to stereotypes and prejudice, which can lead to discrimination. Pre-assumptions are influenced by social, cultural and religious norms. As a result, we condemn others and draw conclusions from them before we really know anything


Whiteness 

Whiteness is an ideology that favours those who fit in with the white standard at the expense of the racialised. In the study of racism, it does not refer to the colour of the skin, but to the power structure. 


White fragility

A defensive reaction that occurs in the context of racism. Often denial and invalidation of another person’s feelings, experiences or opinions. White fragility is often based on a simplistic, two-pronged and problematic way of thinking about racism, according to which a racist is evil, and a non-racist is good. This defensive reaction is triggered by the feeling that someone is insulting your goodness.


White privilege

The invisible set of assets and privileges of those meeting the white standard, which are not earned, but which make life much easier. The ultimate aim of racism is to strengthen the dominance of white people, and white privilege supports this aim.


Sources

Books

  • Bhopal, Kalwant 2018. White Privilege: The Myth of a Post-Racial Society. Bristol: Policy Press
  • DiAngelo, Robin J 2018. White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard to Talk to White People About Racism. Boston: Beacon Press. 
  • Eddo-Lodge, Reni 2017. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 
  • Gordon, Stacey A. 2021. Unbias: Addressing Unconscious Bias at Work. New Jersey: Wiley. 
  • Hubara, Koko 2017. Ruskeat Tytöt. Helsinki: Like Kustannus Oy 
  • Keskinen, Suvi, Seikkula, Minna & Mwkesha, Faith 2021. Rasismi, valta ja vastarinta: rodullistaminen, valkoisuus ja koloniaalisuus Suomessa. Tallinna: Gaudeamus  
  • Oluo, Ijeoma 2019. So You Want to Talk About Race. New York: Seal Press

Online material