Definitions

This section explains key terms and concepts that describe the work of the Collaborative and that inform resources you may find on this site.

Anti-racism Action is a process of actively challenging racism and changing the policies, practices, and beliefs that perpetuate racism at the individual, institutional, and structural levels. The goal of anti-racism is to challenge racism and actively change the policies, behaviors, and beliefs that perpetuate racist ideas and actions.

Critical Race Theory is a critical theory that aims to examine and critique systems and structures in society, particularly those that lead to different outcomes by race.

Discrimination is the way our systems (health care, education, employment, housing, and public health) are structured to advantage the majority and disadvantage minorities (age, class, disabled, gender identity, race, and sexual orientation).

Equity is assurance of the conditions for optimal health and well-being for all people.  Achieving equity requires valuing all individuals and populations equally, recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, and providing resources according to need.  “Group”-based disparities in health and well-being will be eliminated when equity is achieved.  (Based on Jones CP, Medical Care 2014.)

Health Disparities are preventable differences in health outcomes that are experienced by socially, economically, and environmentally disadvantaged populations. Health disparities are linked to discrimination based on race and ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, ability, socioeconomic status, or other characteristics. (CDC)

Racial Equity is assurance of the conditions for optimal health and well-being for all people, with a focus on valuing all individuals and populations equally, recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, and providing resources according to need.  Racial equity requires monitoring for differences in outcomes and opportunities by “race” (the social interpretation of how one looks in a “race”-conscious society).

Racism is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.  (See Jones CP, Phylon 2003; Jones CP et al, Ethnicity and Disease 2008). There are three levels of racism: cultural racism, structural racism, and interpersonal racism.

  • Cultural racism is the presence of societal beliefs and customs that promote the concept that White culture is superior and that denigrates other cultures through stereotyping and framing the cause of disparities as biological, genetic, or cultural (Williams DR, Lawrence JA, Davis BA Ann Rev Public Health 2019).
  • Structural racism refers to the way laws (political processes, statutes, regulations, policies, guidance, advisory opinions, court opinions, budgetary decisions, as well as the process of or failure to enforce the law) are used to provide advantages to Whites, while disadvantaging racial and ethnic minorities by limiting their equal access to key resources (Yearby, Harvard Blog 2020).
  • Interpersonal racism operates through individual interactions, where an individual’s conscious (explicit) and/or unconscious (implicit) racial prejudice limits equal access to resources in spite of anti-discrimination laws (Mullings and Schulz, Gender, Race, Class & Health, 2005).

Social Determinants of Health are the social and environmental conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age. These are the non-medical factors that impact overall health, well-being, and quality of life. Structural discrimination (racism, ageism, sexism, etc.) is a driver of differences in these conditions for different populations.

Upstream/Macro-level efforts seek systemic change to benefit entire communities, rather than interventions targeting specific individuals or groups.