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Office of Equity and Human Rights

Realizing Equity. Enhancing the City of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-4433

Fax: 503-823-4420

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

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Shared City-wide Definitions of Racial Equity Terms

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Using shared definitions of key terms in the City’s racial equity work provides clarity and consistency across all bureaus, which leads to better analysis of how institutional racism functions and is maintained. We can then be more effective in deconstructing these mechanisms that support institutional racism and begin constructing ones that produce equitable outcomes.

These terms should be used when operationalizing the Citywide Racial Equity Goals and Strategies through the use of the Budget Equity Tool and Racial Equity Plans.

Adverse Impacts: refers to practices or policies that appear neutral but have a discriminatory effect on a protected group. Source: Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR)

Civil Rights Title VI: refers to Federal law. No person in the United States, on the grounds of Race, Color, or National Origin, shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any program, service, or activity of a public entity, like the City of Portland, that receives federal assistance.

Communities of Color: is a term used primarily in the United States to describe communities of people who are not identified as White, emphasizing common experiences of racism. Source: OEHR

Discrimination: refers to practices or policies that may be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate "adverse impact" on persons in a protected class. Source: OEHR

Disparate Impacts: refers to practices or policies that may be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate "adverse impact" on persons in a protected class. Source: OEHR

Diversity: includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from one another. Source: UC Berkeley Center for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Ethnicity: a category of people who identify with each other based on common language, ancestral, social, cultural, or national experiences. Source: Oxford English Dictionary

Equity: When one’s identity cannot predict the outcome. Source: OEHR

Equity Lens: is a critical thinking approach to undoing institutional and structural racism, which evaluates burdens, benefits, and outcomes to underserved communities. Source: OEHR

Explicit Bias: is the evaluation of one group and its members relative to one another, expressed directly, with full awareness. Source: OEHR

Implicit Bias: is the evaluation of one group and its members relative to one another, expressed indirectly, usually without awareness. This operates in one’s subconscious. Source: OEHR

Institutional Racism: occurs within institutions and systems of power. It is the unfair policies and discriminatory practices of particular institutions (schools, workplaces, etc.) Source: Race Forward, Moving the Race Conversation Forward

Internalized Racism: lies within individuals. These are our private beliefs and biases about race and racism, influenced by our culture. Source: Race Forward, Moving the Race Conversation Forward

Interpersonal Racism: occurs between individuals. These are biases that occur when individuals interact with others and their private racial beliefs affect their public interactions. Source: Race Forward, Moving the Race Conversation Forward

Privilege: refers to the unearned set of advantages, entitlements, and benefits bestowed by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group (e.g. White privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it. Source: OEHR

Race: a non-scientific classification of human beings created by Europeans (Whites) which assigns human worth and social status for the purpose of establishing and maintaining privilege and power. Source: adapted from Ronald Chisom and Michael Washington, Undoing Racism: A Philosophy of International Social Change

Racial Disparity: A significant difference in conditions between a racial group and the White population that is avoidable and unjust. For example, African-Americans are underrepresented in City of Portland management positions when compared to the percentage of African-Americans in the general population or the representation of Whites in management positions. Source: OEHR

Racial Equity: when race does not determine or predict the distribution of resources, opportunities, and burdens for group members in society. Source: OEHR

Racial Equity Framework: An understanding of the root causes of racial disparities, an analysis of the structures that perpetuate these disparities, and the ability to deploy critical strategies to undoing those structures (i.e. community self-determination, shifting power, etc…) in order to replace them with structures that produce equitable outcomes. Source: OEHR

Racial Equity Tool: A set of strategies, procedures, and resources designed to integrate explicit consideration of racial equity and that can be implemented and applied throughout organizational policy, procedures, and operations to ensure/drive equitable process, impacts, and outcomes. Source: OEHR

Structural Racism: is racial bias among institutions and across society. Source: Race Forward, Moving the Race Conversation Forward

Under-served: refers to people and places that historically and currently have not had equitable resources or access to infrastructure, healthy environments, housing choice, etc.  Disparities may be recognized in both services and in outcomes. Source: OEHR