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APA Presidential Task Force on Structural Racism Glossary of Terms

Term Definition

The active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.



Code-switching refers to adopting mannerisms, language style, dress, or appearance in order to appear more "acceptable" to the dominant culture. For example, a Black individual may change his dialect or speech in a room of only White individuals. Black parents often instruct their children how to act when approached by police. The term was initially used to describe the switch between different dialects or languages when speaking to an individual using an alternate language.



An action that is motivated by prejudice.


Diversity The demographic presence of individuals encompassing race, ethnicity, gender identity, differing abilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, country of origin, religion, and age.
Individual Racism

Includes face-to-face or covert actions toward a person that express prejudice, hate or bias based on race.


Inclusion Authentically recruiting and allowing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups to partake in the processes decision and policy making within an organization or group—resulting in shared power.
Institutional Racism

Refers to the policies and practices within and across institutions that produce outcomes that chronically favor, or put a racial group at a disadvantage.


Microaggressions Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional that communicate hostile derogatory or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.

A belief that is often rooted in unfair assumptions.



A social construct or creation of a social reality, based on physical characteristics, such as skin color and hair texture.


Racial Bias An implicit or explicit aversion to, stereotyping of, or discrimination against racial and ethnic groups.
Racial Equity

When every person has the opportunity to attain their full potential; and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their racial/ethnic background.


Racialized Communities/Groups Frequently referred to as "visible minorities" encompassing all people that are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in color.

A system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call "race"). A system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (race).


Segregation The degree to which racial/ethnic groups live apart from one another in a geographic region.
Social Privilege Unearned advantages that one might take for granted while simultaneously not recognizing that others lack them.
Structural Racism

A combination of public policies, institutional practices, social forces, ideologies, and processes that generate and perpetuate inequities among races.


White Fragility

Discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.


White Privilege

Refers to whites' historical status and contemporary advantages in access to quality education, decent jobs and livable wages, homeownership, retirement benefits, wealth, and so on.


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