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Social Justice

To provide information and resources about diversity, inclusion and social justice issues.

What is Social Justice?


Social justice is defined as "the objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognized and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest" (Oxford Reference).

There are four essential goals of social justice:

1. Human rights - a just society protects everyone's basic human rights

2. Access - a just society provides access to essentials without restrictions based on factors like gender, race, class, etc.

3. Participation - a just society encourages everyone to have their voices heard

4. Equity - a just society takes into account the effects of discrimination and aims for an equal outcome (

Glossary of Terms Related to Social Justice


The following terms can be used for keyword searching in OneSearch.

Ableism: discrimination in favour of able-bodied people; prejudice against or disregard of the needs of disabled people. (

Anti-fa: a political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to facism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology. (

Anti-Racism: The policy or practice of opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance. (

Anti-Semitism: prejudice, hostility, or discrimination towards Jewish people on religious, cultural, or ethnic grounds. (

Bisexuality: The quality or characteristic of being sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender. (

Black Lives Matter: A global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives. (

Cisgender: Denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex. (

Civil Disobedience: the refusal to comply with certain laws considered unjust, as a peaceful form of political protest. (

Classism: the belief that people can be distinguished or characterized, esp. as inferior, on the basis of their social class; discrimination or prejudice against people belonging to a particular social class. (

Counter Narratives: Counter-narrative refers to the narratives that arise from the vantage point of those who have been historically marginalized. The idea of “counter-“ itself implies a space of resistance against traditional domination. A counter-narrative goes beyond the notion that those in relative positions of power can just tell the stories of those in the margins. Instead, these must come from the margins, from the perspectives and voices of those individuals.A counter-narrative thus goes beyond the telling of stories that take place in the margins. The effect of a counter-narrative is to empower and give agency to those communities. By choosing their own words and telling their own stories, members of marginalized communities provide alternative points of view, helping to create complex narratives truly presenting their realities. (

Cultural Competence: having an awareness of one's own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families.  It is the ability to understand the within-group differences that make each student unique, while celebrating between group variations. (National Education Association)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): a program intended to allow undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors to legally remain the in the country to study or work. (

Diversity: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization. (Merriam-Webster)

DREAMer: a person who has lived in the US without official authorization since coming to the country as a minor. (

Equity: the quality of being fair and impartial. (Merriam-Webster)

Euro-Centric: having or regarding Europe as its centre; focusing on Europe to the exclusion of the rest of the world; implicitly regarding Europeans or European culture as pre-eminent. (

Feminism: advocacy of equality of the sexes and the establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of the female sex; the movement associated with this. (

Hate Crime: a crime, usually violent, motivated by hatred or intolerance of a particular social group on the basis of ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexuality, etc. (

Hegemony: political, economic, or military predominance or leadership, esp. by one member of a confederacy or union over other states. (

Homophobia: hostility towards, prejudice against, or (less commonly) fear of homosexual people of homosexuality. (

Implicit bias: a term of art referring to relatively unconscious and relatively automatic features of prejudiced judgment and social behavior. (Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Inclusion: the act of state of including or of being included within a group or structure. A person that is included within a group or structure. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

Institutional Racism (Systemic Racism): a form of racism that is imbedded as normal practice within a society or an organization.  It can lead to such issues as discrimination in criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other issues. (

Intersectionality: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage (

Islamophobia: intense dislike or fear of Islam, esp. as a political force; hostility or prejudice towards Muslims. (

Marginalization: the process of making an individual or minority group marginal in relation to a dominant social group. (

Marxism: The ideas, theories, and methods of Karl Marx; esp. the political and economic theories propounded by Marx together with Friedrich Engels, later developed by their followers to form the basis for the theory and practice of communism.  (

Master Narratives: Stories that create a single story in the mind of the audience about that population, absent of complexity, diversity and nuance, and as a result, reinforce stereotypes and biases. (Matt Sheehan,

Microaggression: a comment or action that is subtly and often unintentionally hostile or demeaning to a member of a minority or marginalized group. (Merriam-Webster)

Neo-Conservative: relating to or denoting a return to a modified form of a traditional viewpoint, in particular a political ideology characterized by an emphasis on free-market capitalism and an interventionist foreign policy. (

Neo-Liberal: a political approach that favours free-market capitalism, deregulation, and reduction in government spending. (

Nonviolent Action: Nonviolence is neither a passive acceptance of oppression, nor a violent opposition to it. Instead, nonviolence is active. Nonviolent action implies a commitment to utilizing nonviolent and creative means (e.g. acts of protest and persuasion, noncooperation, direct action, civil disobedience, boycotts, strikes, and education) to resist violent forces in order to influence and encourage social change.  (retrieved from

Occupy Wall Street: a protest movement against economic inequality that began in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district, in September 2011. It gave rise to the wider Occupy Movement in the United States and other countries. (

Patriarchy: the predominance of men in positions of power and influence in society, with cultural values and norms favouring men. (

Post-Colonialism: the political and cultural condition of a former colony.  A theoretical approach in various disciplines that is concerned with the lasting impact of colonization in former colonies. (

Queer: of a homosexual person (frequently derogatory and offensive.  In later use: denoting or relating to a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender, especially heterosexual norms. (

Racism: a belief that one's own racial or ethnic group is superior, or that  other groups represent a threat to one's cultural identity, racial integrity, or economic well-being; (also) a belief that members of different racial or ethnic groups possess specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities, which can be compared and evaluated.  Hence: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people of other racial or ethnic groups (or, more widely, other nationalities, esp. based on such beliefs. (

Reproductive Rights: Reproductive rights mean you should be able to make your own decisions about your body and get accurate information about these issues access sexual and reproductive health services including contraception choose if, when and who to marry, decide if you want to have children and how many. They also mean our lives should be free from all forms of sexual violence, including rape, female genital mutilation, forced pregnancy, forced abortion and forced sterilization. (

Sanctuary City: a city regarded as offering a degree of protection to illegal immigrants, in particular by having policies in place to limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. (

Sexism: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex. (

Sexual Harassment: harassment (typically of a woman by a man) in a workplace or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances, obscene remarks, etc. (

Social Construct: a concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally. (

Social justice: justice at the level of a society or state as regards the possession of wealth, commodities, opportunities, and privileges. (

Transgender: denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. (

Transphobia: fear of hatred of transsexual or transgender people. (

Transsexual: a person who emotionally and psychologically feels that  they belong to the opposite sex.  A person who has undergone treatment in order to acquire the physical characteristics of the opposite sex. (

White Fragility: discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice. (

White Privilege: inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequallity and injustice. (

White Supremacy: the belief or theory that white people are superior to other peoples, and should therefore have greater power, authority, or status.  Also: a social system based on or perpetuating the political, economic, and cultural dominance of white people. (

Womanism: advocacy of or support for the rights and achievements of women; espousal of qualities and values regarded as characteristics of women. (

Xenophobia: a deep antipathy to foreigners. (

Glossary created by Prof. James H Cho, Catalog and Metadata Strategies Librarian, contributed to by Prof. Lori Caniano . Used with permission.