Inclusive Language and Lexicon Guide

Tuck Inclusive Language and Lexicon Guide 

Inclusive language acknowledges diversity, conveys respect to all people, is sensitive to differences, and promotes equal opportunities. 

This page is a guide for the use of language and nomenclature when discussing diversity and inclusion at Tuck.  We view this guide as a starting reference point that gives people a common understanding and a way to begin  conversations. This guide will change and adapt with time and with our growing cultural awareness.

Importance of language

In 2019, the Linguistic Society of America released a Statement on Race that identified how language impacts racial views and the consequences of having a language system that is skewed towards one subset of people, stating “Linguistics has examined and addressed the linguistic consequences of racist policies and practices on an institutional level, including the systematic eradication of Native American languages, Deaf schools operating under the approach of Oralism, the xenophobic English Only Movement, and educational classifications that derive from damaging beliefs about the relationship between race and intelligence”. 

Our word choices must be carefully curated to ensure that we are not unintentionally perpetuating stereotypes or misusing references. Common but easy to correct terms like “police man” instead of “police officer” are quick ways to start addressing inherent sexism in  language. Another example is the   adoption of the phrase “Latinx” which negates the need to genderize a situation or a group. 

Inclusive language acknowledges  the difference between self-identification and public perception. The way that a person initially presents may not be reflective of the whole of the person and may not be representative of the way that they identify themselves. When given more information about how a person self-identifies, it is important that we both accept and respect that identification and work to ensure the others around us do as well. 

Terms Defined:

Ally: Someone who acts in the interest of an individual, or a group that is not their own (in terms of racial identity, gender, faith identity, sexual orientation, etc.). Allies acknowledge disadvantage and oppression of groups other than their own; take risks and action on their behalf; commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in oppression of those groups and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression. 

Bias: A form of prejudice that results from our tendency and need to classify individuals into categories and base our actions on these categories. Typically, biases are formed on stereotypes. 

Belonging: Refers to a personal sense of feeling seen and valued for being our authentic selves. Belonging is experienced and enforced through cultural messaging that the institution purposefully creates3.

Bigotry: Intolerant prejudice which glories one’s own group and denigrates members of other groups. 

BIPOC: black, indigenous, and other people of color. 

Cisgender: A person who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth. 

Color Blind: The belief that everyone should be treated “equally” without respect to societal, economic, historical, racial, or other difference. No differences are seen or acknowledged; everyone is the same. 

Confirmation Bias: The act of seeking information that supports your viewpoint while rejecting information that opposes your beliefs. 

Cultural Appropriation: The non-consensual/misappropriation use of cultural elements for commodification or profit purposes—including symbols, art, language, customs—often without understanding, acknowledgment, or respect for its value in the original culture. In some cases names or symbols are used in ways that are factually inaccurate and cause emotional harm and broad misunderstanding.

Cultural Competence: The state of having and applying knowledge and skill in four areas:  awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, recognition of one’s attitude toward cultural differences, realization of different cultural practices and worldviews, and thoughtfulness in cross-cultural interaction. Over an extended period of time individuals and organizations develop the wisdom and capability to: examine critically how cultural worldviews influence perceptions of power, dominance and inequality, and behave honorably within the complex dynamics of differences and commonalities among humans, groups and systems. 

Cultural Pluralism: Recognition of the contribution of each group to a common civilization. It encourages the maintenance and development of different lifestyles, languages, and convictions.  It is a commitment to deal cooperatively with common concerns. It strives to create the conditions of harmony and respect within a culturally diverse society. 

Culture: An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that is both a result of, and integral to, the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. It is dynamic and changes with time. 

Developing nations: Countries with a less developed industrial base relative to other countries

Discrimination: The unequal treatment of members of various groups, based on conscious or unconscious prejudice, which favor one group over others on differences of race, gender, economic class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, language, age, national identity,  religion, and other categories. 

Diversity: Includes attributes such as race, gender identity, age, ethnicity, ability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status, among other aspects of identity. The composite of the various backgrounds present in the Dartmouth community makes the campus diverse. Diversity coupled with equity, inclusin and belonging allows for optimal creativity, innovation, and academic excellence1.

Dominant Identity: Identities through which one holds power or is seen as the norm. 

Equality: A state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects, including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights and equal access to certain social goods and services. 

Equity: Successfully creating structures and systems that disrupt existing and potential barriers to individual success and ensuring that all persons are treated fairly. Our progress toward equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging addresses the historical legacies of exclusion, promotes social justice, and equips every member of our community to thrive2.

Student-focused equity: The creation of opportunities for historically underserved and underrepresented populations to have equal access to and participate in educational programs that are capable of closing the achievement gaps in student success and completion. 

Employee-focused equity: The creation of opportunities for historically and presently underserved and underrepresented populations of employees (faculty, staff, and students) to have equal access to professional growth opportunities and resource networks that are capable of closing the demographic disparities in leadership roles in all spheres of institutional functioning. 

Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base. 

Gender fluid: Denoting or relating to a person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender

Hispanic: Hispanic refers to people from Spain or Spanish speaking origin. For example, Hispanic would include people from Spain and not Brazil where Portuguese is predominantly spoken.

Historically Excluded People and Groups: This term refers to groups who have been denied access and/or suffered past institutional discrimination in the United States and, according to the Census and other federal measuring tools, includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics or Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans and/or Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous people: Also referred to as First peoples, Aboriginal peoples, Native peoples, or autochthonous peoples, are ethnic groups who are native to a particular place.

Inclusive Leadership: Leaders who are aware of their own biases and preferences, actively seek out and consider different views and perspectives to inform better decision-making. They see diverse talent as a source of competitive advantage and inspire diverse people to drive organizational and individual performance towards a shared vision. 

Implicit Bias: Negative associations expressed automatically that people unknowingly hold and that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions; also known as unconscious or hidden bias. 

Inclusion: An active, intentional, and ongoing individual and organizational effort in which people from different backgrounds or identities are culturally and socially welcomed, considered in decision-making, and treated equitably. The result of effective inclusion efforts is belonging (see below).

Inequity: Policies or practices that perpetuate inequality, uneven access, and uneven outcomes. 

Institutional Racism: Refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes and opportunities for different groups based on racial discrimination or render particular groups and individuals invisible. 

Intercultural Competency: This is a process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.  

Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.  

Latino: Latino refers to people of Latin American descent living in the United States. This term includes Brazilians and excludes people from Spain.

Latinx: In recent years, the term Latinx has gained popularity. Latinx is the gender-neutral or non-binary term for Latino/Latina and pushes back on the gendered language to be more inclusive.

Micro-aggressions: The verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, insults, or belittlement, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon discriminatory belief systems. 

Non-binary: A spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine‍.

Otherness: The quality or fact of being different. 

Oppression: The systemic and pervasive nature of social inequality woven throughout social institutions as well as embedded within individual consciousness. Oppression fuses institutional and systemic discrimination, personal bias, bigotry and social prejudice in a complex web of relationships and structures that saturate most aspects of life in our society. 

Pan African: Of or relating to all people who identify as African or as members of the African diaspora.

Pan Asian: Of or relating to all people who identify as Asian or as members of the Asian diaspora.

Positive intent: start with the assumption that someone means well or is doing their best. 

Power: Formal: based on one’s title or position. For example, faculty members have power over students and administrators hold power over staff, which can lead to various forms of discrimination or favoritism. Informal: based on one’s privilege, control, access, ability to decide. 

Prejudice: A pre-judgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative, attitude of one type of individual or groups toward another group and its members. Such negative attitudes are typically based on stereotypes that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics.  

Privilege: Having access and power that may be earned or unearned by virtue of race or gender. 

Race: A socially constructed category of identification based on physical characteristics, ancestry, historical affiliation, or shared culture. Socially constructed BUT has real impact on all major life outcomes and experiences. 

Racial Equity: The condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity is no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When this term is used, the term may imply that racial equity is one part of racial justice, and thus also includes work to address the root causes of inequities, not just their manifestations. 

Racism:Interpersonal level: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. Systemic: a doctrine or political program or set of policies based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles. 

Sexism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on a difference in sex/gender, usually by men against women. 

Social Justice: Social justice constitutes a form of activism, based on principles of equity and inclusion that encompasses a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable, and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors which have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and society as a whole. 

Stereotype: A generalization rooted in blanket beliefs and assumptions, a product of processes of categorization that can result in a prejudiced attitude, uncritical judgment, and intentional or unintentional discrimination. Stereotypes are often created as cognitive shortcuts. Typically negative, but they can also be positive. 

System of Oppression: Conscious and unconscious, non-random, and organized harassment, discrimination, exploitation, discrimination, prejudice, and other forms of unequal treatment that impact different groups. 

Tokenism: Having presence without meaningful participation. Often the result of an attempt to meet a stated quotas but not valued. 

White Supremacy: A power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; and who feel superior to those of other racial/ethnic identities. 

WOC: Women of color.

This glossary was adapted from the following sources: 

Linguistic Society of America  
Inclusive Language Guide, Northwestern | The Family Institute
University of Southern California Race and Equity Center
Washington University in St. Louis Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell and Pat Griffin, editors. Teaching for Diversity and  Social Justice: A Sourcebook. New York: Routledge
M Potachuk, S Leiderman, et al. (2009). Glossary. Center for Assessment and Policy  Development
Racial Equity Resource Guide, W. K. Kellogg Foundation
Racial Equity Tools
Pacific University Oregon Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion  
The BIPOC Project

1Redman. Tom and Wilkinson Adrian (2001), Contemporary Human Resource Management: Text and Cases, Published by Financial Times/ Prentice Hall, ISBN 10: