Word of the Week

Word of the Week is a glossary of language used in conversations regarding social justice, diversity, and allyship. Every week during the 2019-2020 academic year, the CCID publicized a term or concept that highlighted some aspect of identity, along with resources to learn more about that term. The given definitions provided a starting point for engaging in open and honest conversation, and were a tool meant to build a shared language of understanding throughout our campus community. It is important to acknowledge that the meaning of these words may change and evolve over time and in different contexts. Building on last year's theme of "mattering," our 2019-2020 theme of "activating" will hopefully further inspire diversity education, advocacy, and actions throughout the Caltech community and beyond.

Activate  (verb): To start something. To make active or more active.Here are just a few ideas on how you can begin to get activated in diversity and inclusion here on campus:    attend a SafeZone training; become a Caltech Diversity & Inclusion Ambassador; join an student club; be an ally.

Diversity (noun): Different, varied or a range of different things. Includes our social identities, backgrounds, experiences, and thoughts. (Additional resource: Scott Page Diversity Bonus).

 Inclusion (noun): An environment and commitment to respect and nurture diverse social groups and identities; an environment where all people feel like they belong. A sense of belonging is foundational to achieving excellence in all areas of your life from academics to human connection, how can we ensure all members of our Caltech community feel like they are an integral part of this campus?

Equity (noun): An approach that ensures everyone has access to the same opportunities, regardless of where they start. Equity recognizes that advantages and barriers exist, and that, as a result, we all don't start from the same place in life. Activate towards methods of equity: learn more about equity mindedness.

Microaggressions (noun): The everyday slights, indignities, put-downs and insults that people of color, women, LBGT populations and other marginalized people experience in their day-to-day interactions. These messages may be sent verbal, non-verbal, or environmental. Activate: learn about and challenge your own microaggressions https://equity.ucla.edu › wp-content › uploads › 2016/06.

Intersectionality (noun): A concept to describe how race, class, gender, and other characteristics of our identities overlap and interact with one another. "Intersectionality" is a term coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw. You can learn more about her work and the term through an interview with her: https://www.law.columbia.edu/pt-br/news/2017/06/kimberle-crenshaw-intersectionality 

Tongva People (noun): "The Gabrieleno-Tongva are the native/indigenous people who occupied much of what is now the LA Basin, as well as the Channel Islands. Many still live in the area today. You are encouraged to learn more about the land that you walk upon every day and the history of the first nation people of this region. You can learn more about them http://www.tongvapeople.org/. Activate and apply this:  write a "land acknowledgement" for your presentations, papers, funding sources etc.  Learn more about them here https://usdac.us/nativeland

Weightism (noun): Prejudice and discrimination against overweight and obese people. It also intersects with diet culture. Diet culture is a set of beliefs that elevates certain body types over others, equates thinness with health and worth, and, as a result, actively oppresses those who fall outside the ideal. Find more information on this podcast: https://christyharrison.com/foodpsych/5/the-truth-about-diet-culture-with-emily-contois

Colorism (noun): Coined by author Alice Walker, it is prejudice based on the shade of an individual's skin tone which values lighter skin tones over darker skin and can lead to discrimination. It can occur both within a specific ethnic group and across ethnic groups. Colorism shows up in Black/African-American, Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native/Indigenous communities.

Examples: featuring lighter-skinned performers in film and television or magazine covers; lightening the skin of darker-skinned people featured in media to make them look more white/European; believing that only lighter skin can be sensitive to cosmetic products or the sun.

These resources will help you:

(Video) Lupita Nyong'o Speaks Out About Colorism in Hollywood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9Z16AYVjI

(Article) 5 Ways to Fight Sneaky Signs of Colorism -https://hiplatina.com/fight-sneaky-signs-colorism/

(Article) 6 Ways to Combat Colorism - https://www.thereignxy.com/lifestyle/colorism

(Article) Colorism And Anti-Blackness In The Asian Community - https://www.womensrepublic.net/colorism-and-anti-blackness-in-the-asian-community/

(Article) Asia's Addiction to Whiter Skin Runs Deep – But the Backlash has Begun - https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2184747/asias-addiction-whiter-skin-runs-deep-backlash-has-begun

White Fragility (noun): is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, 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. The term was coined by professor and lecturer Robin DiAngelo, PhD. For more information and resources:

Example: Becoming defensive and taking it personal when a person of color mentions an instance of racism.


Dr. DiAngelo's Website - https://robindiangelo.com/

Debunking Debunking The Most Common Myths White People Tell About Race - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjHg65JORi8 

Redlining (verb): Coined by sociologist John McKnight, "redlining" is the systematic denial of various services(including credit, insurance, and home loans) to residents of specific, often racially associated, neighborhoods or communities, either directly or through the selective raising of prices. Digital redlining is an extension of the historical housing discrimination practice of redlining to include an ability to discriminate against vulnerable classes of society using algorithms, connected digital technologies, and big data. 


(Video – Overview of Redlining) - "Why Cities Are Still So Segregated? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5FBJyqfoLM

(Video) - "Redlining" (Interview with couple who experienced redlining in the 1940s) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33RvaOZ-HzY

Reparations (noun): The making of amends for a wrong that has been done – whether by individuals, corporations, government or other major institutions – by paying money, control of land, housing, jobs, health care, transportation and even finance and trade. Most recently the term reparations has been used in reference to the descendants of enslaved sub-Saharan Africans. The argument is that those who who were trafficked in the Americas as consequence of the Atlantic slave trade should receive reparations.  The most notable demands for reparations have been made in the United Kingdom and the United States. For additional information, please access the resource below:

Is It Time For Reparations In America? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjeZORbBVzA

Slavery Reparations Bill Debated in US House  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBP1Ojj3plI

The Case For Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Atlantic Article)


African Diaspora (noun): a diaspora is the dispersion of any people from their original homeland. The African Diaspora is a term coined in the 1990s that describes the dispersion of Black people from Africa who reside around the world. It includes those displaced by the Atlantic slave trade in over 15 different areas across the globe including Brazil, the United States, and Haiti between 1500s and 1900s. 

For more information, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUqqasP3lVE

Black Wall Street (noun): Greenwood is a historic freedom colony in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the early 20th Century, it was home to one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses in the United States and nicknamed, "Black Wall Street."  This would all come to an end in June 1921, when white residents killed as many as 300 black residents and injured hundreds more within hours.  Known as the Tulsa Massacre or Tulsa Race Riot, it was one of the most devastating events in the history of U.S. race relations and destroyed the once thriving Greenwood community. Within ten years, surviving residents would rebuild much of the district, but it would never achieve the same success. The current HBO series, "The Watchmen" was inspired by this time in history. For more information and resources, see the links below. 

The History of Black Wall Street:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO3Fxe4mDP4

The Watchmen TV Series Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wumlyetXEmk&t=77s

(noun):  coined by activist and "The Color Purple" author Alice Walker, a womanist is a black feminist or feminist of color committed to the survival and wholeness of humanity regardless of gender. Womanism identifies and critically analyzes sexism, anti-black racism, and their intersection. For many women of color, particularly black women, the mainstream feminist movement hasn't been — and still isn't — enough. 

What is a Womanist?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWgOpOkSCOI

The Womanist Way -Technology Reimagined: Tiffany Russell at TEDxCharleston


Pink Tax
(noun):  The pink tax refers to the extra amount of money women pay for specific products or services. Sometimes you'll see or hear it referred to as price discrimination or gender-pricing.

Read more about it here: 

  • Gender-Based Price Discrimination: The Cost of Being a Woman: The Cost of Being a Woman 


  • The Cost of Doing Femininity: Gendered Disparities in Pricing of Personal Care Products and Services