The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically under-served and underrepresented populations, and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.
What Is Equity? (United Way Denton, TX)
Below you'll find a glossary of core concepts, important terms, and informational resources that can help you build an understanding of Equity.
Dominant culture in a society refers to the established language, religion, values, rituals, and social customs on which the society was built. It has the most power, is widespread, and influential within a social entity, such as an organization, in which multiple cultures are present.
An organization’s dominant culture is heavily influenced by the leadership and management standards and preferences of those at the top of the hierarchy. In this definition, dominant culture refers specifically to the American context in which organizational culture is predominantly defined by white men and white women in positional power. See also “White Dominant Culture.”
My road trip through the whitest towns in america (TEDWomen 2015, Rich Benjamin, 13 min)
• What cultures have the most dominance in our space?
• What is my relationship to the dominant culture?
• How do I help to make sure one culture isn’t dominant in this space (if more than one)?
The existence of racial power that denotes a system of structural or societal racism which privileges white people over others, regardless of the presence or the absence of racial hatred. White racial advantages occur at both a collective and an individual level, and both people of color and white people can perpetuate white dominant culture, resulting in the overall disenfranchisement of people of color in many aspects of society.
Me and White Supremacy Workbook (2018, by Layla F. Saad) Also buy this if you have the means to do so.
The use of politeness or discomfort to avoid a topic or create an exclusionary atmosphere where conversation or certain behaviors are seen as bad. This tactic perpetuates the binary norms of “good and bad,” often as a way to protect comfort.
When Civility Is Used As A Cudgel Against People Of Color (Code Switch, NPR, March 2019, 6 min) This addresses the harms of exclusionary conversations and politeness. This is a quick listen around how civility has been used as a weapon against oppressed communities. NPR did an entire segment on this topic called Civility Wars (April 2019.)
White Dominant Culture*
Culture defined by white men and white women with social and positional power, enacted both broadly in society and within the context of social entities such as organizations. See also “Dominant Culture” and “White Supremacy Culture.
White Dominant Culture & Something Different from cacgrants.org [Cuyahoga Arts and Culture] Adapted for ACCE from adaptation by Partners for Collaborative Change based on “White Supremacy Culture” By Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones, for large, majority white environmental organizations, using interviews with staff and partners of these organizations.
White Fragility Video (Rise District, 2018, 6 min)
Read This, Not White Fragility With Jared Loggins and Wendi Muse (The Dig, 1hr 49min)
The power and advantages benefiting perceived white people, derived from the historical oppression and exploitation of other non-white groups.
How White Privilege Works | Unpack That (The Root, 2018, 4 min)
White person who helps people of color for their own gain. And can happen after people are introduced to JEDI. They get a feel good high from this work - rather than doing the needed work. Not being intentional and aware how they might affect people they are working with in the long run. Like parachuting! When someone not part of a community jumps in to be part of the work as self serving not as a real part of the work. ‘Earning woke coins’ Being a part of the work but not doing the work. It’s limiting - linked to tokenization or performative. There isn’t a finite point to this work - you need to keep working on this on-going. White saviors see people as either good or bad rather than that everyone has behaviors to learn and unlearn. A lifelong process. Saviorism is white supremacy culture.
“Along with many of my neighbors, I put a “Black Lives Matter” sign on my front lawn in the summer of 2020. I did it to be part of the movement, to show others in my community that I am committed to anti-racism, to keep myself accountable to my goals: “Okay, you’ve got a sign saying it out front; now make sure you’re following through!” One day, it blew down in a big rain storm. The next day, I hadn’t fixed it yet, and two young Black women came to knock on my door, doing voter turnout volunteer work. Man oh man did I want them to see my sign! I nearly blurted out to them, “did you see the homemade BLM sign I made??” I’m glad I didn’t, but that very strong impulse to have those Black women see me as a “good” White person on the “right side” -- it really made me stop and think. I have to remind myself again and again, I’m not doing this work for points, I’m trying to do my little part because it is right and long overdue. And I’ve still got a long way to go.” -- Caitlin, Portland, Maine
White Supremacy Culture*
Characteristics of white supremacy that manifest in organizational culture, and are used as norms and standards without being proactively named or chosen by the full group. The characteristics are damaging to both people of color and white people in that they elevate the values, preferences, and experiences of one racial group above all others. Organizations that are led by people of color or have a majority of people of color can also demonstrate characteristics of white supremacy culture. Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun identified twelve characteristics of white supremacy culture in organizations: Perfectionism, Sense of Urgency, Defensiveness, Quantity of Quality, Worship of the Written Word, Paternalism, Power Hoarding, Fear of Open Conflict, Individualism, Progress is Bigger/More, Objectivity, and Right to Comfort.
• Which characteristics in the above list resonate with you?
• How can you work to dismantle these norms within your own life? (acknowledgment and noticing are steps)
The favoring of non-disabled individuals over those with disabilities. Ableism can express itself as prejudice or discrimination, usually in the form of misconceptions, stereotypes, stigmas, and generalizations of the disability. Ableism perpetuates the belief that being non-disabled is superior and the idea that disability is less than and should be excluded.
• How is ableism perpetuated in our culture? In education?
• How can I fight against ableism?
We exist within societal structures rooted in historical facts, one of which is colonialism: the policy and practice of acquiring control of land (frequently occupied by people of color), occupying it, and codifying power structures to elevate one race and culture above all others. The international practice of colonization informs the dominant culture that characterizes American society today, driving ideologies and subconscious biases rooted in centuries of racism, classism, and white privilege. In order to dismantle white supremacy and the white dominant culture norms it influences, one must actively “decolonize” the mind, recognizing and counteracting the thoughts, preferences, practices, and behaviors that are deeply rooted vestiges of colonization.
Voices of Decolonization (Wabanaki REACH) articles on various topics to do with Decolonization
What Decolonization Is and What it Means to Me (Teen Vogue, by Tina Curiel-Allen, March 4, 2018)
The phenomenon that occurs when people belonging to the nondominant group understand dominant culture norms and take on their characteristics either by choice or by force. Many people of color are asked to “check their identities at the door” in professional settings to make their white peers comfortable. By doing so, many people of color find it easier to get promotions and professional opportunities, as well as to gain access to informal networks typically accessible only to whites.
• How have I assimilated into this space? What cultural values do I bring to this organization? What cultural norms do I hold other people to?
• How does our organization’s culture discourage folks from engaging?
• How does our organization’s culture encourage people to engage?
*Note: any entry with an asterisk (*) comes from the US Climate Action Network glossary.