Resource Guide: Racial Justice 101

Provided below are a glossary of terms as well as videos and short articles that aim to build foundational understandings of racial justice.

This is not a fixed or all-encompassing list, and recommendations for added resources are welcome in order to promote productive discussion surrounding these topics. You can submit suggestions here:



Ally: “A person who is a member of an advantaged social group who takes a stand against oppression, works to eliminate oppressive attitudes and beliefs in themselves and their communities, and works to interrogate and understand their privilege” (Suffolk University).

Accomplice: Similar to an ally but,the actions of an Accomplice are meant to directly challenge institutionalized racism, colonization, and White supremacy by blocking or impeding racist people, policies, and structures. Realizing that our freedoms and liberations are bound together, retreat or withdrawal in the face of oppressive structures is not an option. Accomplices’ actions are informed by, directed and often coordinated with leaders who are Black, Brown, First Nations/Indigenous Peoples, and/or People of Color” (White Accomplices).  

Decolonize: “Decolonization is a political process and vital internalization of the rejection of colonialist mindsets and norms” (Wikipedia). “Decolonizing asks us to notice our thoughts, words, and behaviors on so many levels: in our minds, in our community, our local ecosystem, our state, the country, and on the earth” – it urges us to ask “How can I educate myself to further understand my impact on people, beings, and ecosystems?” (Maine-Wabanaki REACH).

Implicit Bias: “Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess” (Racial Equity Tools).

Intersectionality: Originally coined by scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, and inspired by the work of the Combahee River Collective, intersectionality is a “sociological model and/or lens for critical analysis that focuses on the intersections of multiple, mutually-reinforcing systems of oppression, power, and privilege. Intersectional theorists look at how the individual experience is impacted by multiple axes of oppression and privilege. Variables include, but are not limited to: race, gender, ethnicity, religion ability, education, sexual orientation, sexuality, gender identity, gender expression, class, first language, citizenship, and age” (Suffolk University).

Institutionalized Racism: “Refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color” (Center for the Study of Social Policy).  

Environmental Racism: “Environmental racism refers to the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race. Environmental racism is caused by several factors, including intentional neglect, the alleged need for a receptacle for pollutants in urban areas, and a lack of institutional power and low land values of people of color. It is a well-documented fact that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by polluting industries (and very specifically, hazardous waste facilities) and lax regulation of these industries” (Green Action).  

PoC (People of Color): “Often the preferred collective term for referring to non-White
racial groups, rather than ‘minorities.’ Racial justice advocates have been using the term ‘people of color’ (not to be confused with the pejorative ‘colored people’) since the late 1970s as an inclusive and unifying frame across different racial groups that are not White, to address racial inequities” (Race Forward).

Race: Race isn’t biological, but racism is still real. Race is a powerful social idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. Our government and social institutions have created advantages that disproportionately channel wealth, power, and resources to white people. This affects everyone, whether we are aware of it or not” (PBS “Race: The Power of an Illusion”).

Racism:  “Historically rooted system of power hierarchies based on race—
infused in our institutions, policies and culture—that benefit White people and hurt people of color. Racism isn’t limited to individual acts of prejudice, either deliberate or accidental” (Race Forward).

Racial Equity: “Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares”(Racial Equity Tools).

Racial Justice: “The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond ‘anti-racism.’ It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures(Race Forward).

Systemic Racism: “Systemic racism is both a theoretical concept and a reality. As a theory, it is premised on the research-supported claim that the United States was founded as a racist society, that racism is thus embedded in all social institutions, structures, and social relations within our society. Rooted in a racist foundation, systemic racism today is composed of intersecting, overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color” (Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D).

White Privilege: “Refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it” (Racial Equity Tools).  

White Supremacy: “White Supremacy is a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege” (Elizabeth Martínez).



VIDEO: “Race, the House We Live in” (from a longer documentary Race: The  Power of Illusion) explains the history of housing discrimination in the United States and how red-lining segregated the country. This is a good source for learning more about generational poverty in part due to the racial suburbanization of America.

ARTICLE: Shay Stewart-Bouley’s  “White Folks and Affirmative Action: The 101 Real Deal Lesson” from her blog Black Girl in Maine uses affirmative action to discuss systemic racism and why it’s so important to talk about whiteness.

VIDEO: Race Forward has created a video series on systemic racism addressing various issues such as access to health care, housing discrimination, and the criminal justice system. Each clip is short and direct, and is a good source for basic information and statistics surrounding systemic racism.

VIDEO: “We Must Talk About Race to Fix Economic Inequality” created by Demos demonstrates how racism fuels poverty in the United States by discussing specific government policies that have disproportionately targeted people of color.

BOOK EXCERPT: Excerpt from the introduction of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander lays out her major arguments for the book which analyzes mass incarceration as racialized social control comparative to Jim Crow laws.

VIDEO: The Ted Talk, “We Need to Talk About an Injustice” by Bryan Stevenson also analyzes the criminal justice system and the extreme imbalance along racial lines.


VIDEO: “What is Privilege” attempts to demonstrate what privilege looks like by filming an activity known as the “privilege walk” where participants take a step forward or backwards based on their answer to questions that advantage or disadvantage them in society.

ARTICLE: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (1988) by Peggy McIntosh includes a numbered list of the ways in which her daily life is affected by and benefits from being white, and was one of the first major texts to use the term “white privilege.”

ARTICLE: “What My Bike Has Taught me About White Privilege” In this article, the author uses the concept of riding a bike as an analogy for what privilege (or lack thereof) looks and feels like.

ARTICLE: “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person” by  Gina Crosley-Corcoran dives into intersections of class and race, and provides a nuanced way of thinking about privilege and oppression.


ARTICLE: “Bias Isn’t Just a Police Problem, It’s a Preschool Problem” by Cory Turney (NPR) uses a preschool classroom to draw examples of the ways in which our implicit biases affect our expectations and interactions with others.

VIDEO: TED Talk “How to Overcome our Biases, Walk Boldly Toward Them” by Vernā Myers demonstrates how detrimental our biases can be and how to overcome them.

VIDEO: “Racial Stereotyping: You see a black guy, white guy, pretty girl committing a crime. What you do?” This video demonstrates the ways in which racial biases are ingrained in all of us by an experiment showing how people react differently when seeing a black man presumably stealing a bike versus a white man or a “pretty girl.”

ARTICLE: “10 Insidious Ways White Supremacy Shows up in Our Everyday Lives” by Kali Holloway argues that while it may be easier to believe that racism is something that is perpetuated by other people, it is imperative that we self reflect on the ways in which we are all complicit. As Holloways puts it “culturally held notions around race mold and shape the prejudices of everyone within the dominant culture.” By acknowledging these internalized biases we can begin to combat them.


➣  ARTICLE: “For Other White People Who Want to Stop Being Annoying and/or Awful Allies to People of Color” by Kat Kline emphasizes that allyship is a verb and provides a list of great resources for non-PoC’s to educate themselves about racial justice.

ARTICLE: “Have You Heard of Racial Crossfit? Try This Summer Workout” by ShaRhonda Knott Dawson is a light-hearted article for white people who want to “do something” about racism. Included in the article is a video link of a talk by Glennon Doyle Melton called “Important Message for White Feminists.”

ARTICLE: “Moving from Actor –> Ally –> Accomplice” provides a straightforward distinction between the terms “actor,” “ally,” and “accomplice” with regards to how white people can support racial justice.

➣  ARTICLE: “An Open Letter to Privileged People Who Play Devil’s Advocate” by Juliana Britto Schwartz criticizes the tactic of playing the devil’s advocate in conversations surrounding social justice as unproductive and harmful to traditionally marginalized people.


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