Diversity Terminology

Diversity Terminology

Language is as diverse as people. And different terms have different meanings for diverse audiences. Still, we compiled a list of commonly used terms to help students, faculty, and staff to promote diversity and inclusive excellence. This is not an exhaustive list. But the list is to serve as a guide in cultivating a shared understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion terminology.


Processes and policies which lead to racial equity. The practice of identifying, challenging, and removing racist processes and policies and replacing them with processes and policies that cultivate equity between racial groups.

Color Blindness:

Belief that one should treat all persons equally, without regard to race. Minimizes or ignores a person’s race and ethnicity and lived experience. This ideology usually denies systemic or institutional racism.

Covert Racism:

A form of racial discrimination that is disguised and indirect, rather than public or obvious. Covert racism discriminates against individuals through often evasive or seemingly passive methods. Since racism is viewed as socially unacceptable by mainstream society, people engage in covert racism in subtle ways, and therefore it may go unchallenged or unrecognized.

Deficit-Minded Language:

Language that blames students for their inequitable outcomes instead of examining the systemic factors that contribute to their challenges. It labels students as inadequate by focusing on qualities or knowledge they lack, such as the cognitive abilities and motivation needed to succeed in college, or shortcomings socially linked to the student, such as cultural deprivation, inadequate socialization, or family deficits or dysfunctions.


An institutional and academic philosophy that encourages the representation, protection, and integration of a variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews resulting from differences in culture, background, and circumstance. Such differences include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ability, socioeconomic status, country of origin, and intellectual perspectives. Diversity and respect for diversity are crucial to DACC’s mission as it improves educational outcomes and provides students, faculty, and staff opportunities for civic engagement, workplace success, and leadership in a multicultural and globally connected world.


The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, national origin, age, physical/mental abilities and other categories that may result in disadvantages and differences in provision of goods, services or opportunities


Ensuring social justice, fair treatment, opportunities, career and educational advancement, and help to students, faculty, and staff at DACC, while striving to identify and remove barriers that have prevented the full participation and equivalent outcomes of diverse populations and historically underrepresented and oppressed individuals and groups.


A category of people who identify as a social group on the basis of a shared culture, origins, social background, and traditions that are distinctive, maintained between generations, and lead to a sense of identity, common language or religious traditions.

Implicit or Unconscious Bias:

Bias that results from the tendency to process information based on unconscious associations and feelings, even when these are contrary to one’s conscious ro declared beliefs.


The active, ongoing, and intentional commitment to diversity—in curricular activities, co-curricular activities, and in communities (social, cultural, virtual, and geographical) with which people might connect—by creating an environment where students, faculty, and staff and marginalized individuals and groups feel welcome, a sense of belonging, valued, supported, and are empowered to participate as a part of DACC and its decision-making processes. An inclusive environment celebrates and welcomes the awareness and discussion of racial, social, educational, experiential, and intellectual differences and strives to include those who are commonly, historically, or currently excluded.


Different from “sex.” Socially constructed roles, behavior, activities, and attributes that society considers be appropriate for men and women. Gender may differ from sex assigned at birth.


Brief, temporary, or daily verbal, behavioral or environmental insults, which are intentional or unintentional that subtly suggest derogatory, hostile, or negative racial slights and insults that potentially create harmful psychological impact on a targeted individual or group.


A social construct that divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly skin color), cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, and the social, economic and political needs of a society at a given period of time. There are no distinctive genetic characteristics that truly distinguish between groups of people. Race presumes human worth and social status for the purpose of establishing and maintaining privilege and power. Race is independent of ethnicity.

Underrepresented Individuals or Groups:

Individuals or groups that suffered institutional discrimination. Historically, underrepresented groups include African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinx, and Native Americans. Current underrepresented groups include historically underrepresented individuals and groups and other ethnicities, veterans, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, different religious groups, and different economic backgrounds. Underrepresented individuals and groups are seen by the unequal or disproportional representation in education and employment.