This page exists to give clear and simple definitions of some of the key concepts discussed on our page and in conversations about race. You should feel free to refer to this throughout your exploration of this site.

Environmental Justice


Intersectional theory describes how the overlap of various social identities–such as race, gender, sexuality, and class–contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual.

The term intersectionality was coined by Kimberly Crenshaw. If you're interested in learning more, check out the video below.



Social construction(ism)

A theory of knowledge that objects to biological explanations for gender, sex, sexuality, and race. Constructivists believe that these categories are not predetermined or universal, but are produced by society–they are products of human definition and interpretation shaped by cultural and historical contexts.

Systemic (Racism)

Racism is the practice of discrimination against a person based on their race. Those who are not white are those who are most discriminated against. Systemic racism refers to a form of racism that is embedded in the laws and regulations of a society or an organization.


A pervasive social construction that has served as a tool of oppression for centuries. Whiteness does not refer only to skin color.

Carolyn Finney describes whiteness as a way of knowing; a process through which Americans understand the world, the effects of which go beyond white individuals. Because whiteness is an assumed norm, everything is predicated on it, even the lives of people of color.

White Fragility

A state of racial discomfort that often triggers defensiveness in response to the confrontation of whiteness. This racial stress that brings about a state of white fragility comes from any interruption to the racial norm.

White Privilege

A set of social and economic advantages that white people have by virtue of their skin color.

Peggy McIntosh defines white privilege as "an invisible package of unearned assets that [white people] can count on cashing in each day." These are privileges they didn't earn, but have by virtue of their race.

White Rage

A term coined by Carol Anderson, white rage refers to the anger of white people about Black people's societal advancement. It may result in violent or systemic actions taken white people take to prevent the societal advancement of Black people.