BLC Vocabulary

These are just brief description of how we’ve come to understand these concepts, please see our list of syllabi for more information

Anti-Black Racism: refers to the systemic, institutional, structural, and individual devaluation, dispossession, and dehumanization of Black peoples. This occurs both globally and locally, as well as culturally, politically, socially, and economically and is woven into the fabric of every society. The contemporary experience of Black peoples is inextricably linked to the history of the Transatlantic slave trade, slavery, and segregation and impacts every sphere of our lives including (but is not limited to) immigration, education, child welfare, health care, and policing. Anti-Black racism is both overt and subtle, and in Canadian society often is embedded ideologies of liberalism, multiculturalism and rarely addressed in co-opted notions of “diversity” and “inclusion”. Theoretically, anti-Black racism demands that we address the oppression of Black peoples in the multiple forms it exists due to the multiple identities that we hold, and that liberation only comes when we’re all liberated. Anti-Black racism as a theoretical lens also looks to acknowledge and (re)surface the ways in which Black peoples resist our oppression, both historically and contemporarily.  

Neoliberalism: refers to systems, structures, policies, and practices that resurface liberalism and favours free-market capitalism. Through this logic/ideology, individuals are meant to be completely responsibility for their care and the state intervenes/supports as little as possible. This manifests in the clawing back of resources such as child support, education, and giving financial resources to marginalized communities. It also manifests in the “just pull up your bootstraps up” logic that demands people work hard, which ignores how oppression operates to deny equitable access. From this logic we see the “perfect” worker, student, citizen who the state cares about and acknowledges, while deeming those who don’t fit this mould as bad, unfit, etc.

White supremacy: refers to both a system and a logic where White people, history, worldviews, and systems are intentionally and violently enforced, privileged, and embedded in society, policy, procedures, and practices.  

Colonization/colonialism: refers to the violent process of invading, taking over, and taking of land and resources which often requires the genocide and dispossession

Settler colonialism: is a form of colonization where the focus goes beyond just resource extraction, but is also the ongoing process of by which people claim land as their own, operating under and through the notion of discovery which further disappears Indigenous Peoples and their original relationship to the land and the life that comes with it. It is important to differentiate between settler colonialism and external colonialism (the above definition) because settler colonialism has a different impact on Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island (what we understand today as the Americas) today. This is deeply embedded in Canadian institutions and processes that interact with Indigenous Peoples based on our history of setterhood.

Indigenous Peoples: people who historically and presently suffer from being colonized and dispossessed from their original lands, territories and resources resulting in extreme forms of economic, social, cultural, and political marginalization.

Forced Settler: refers to diasporic people who migrate due to the many effects of colonization and imperialism, and so “choice” to move comes out of a necessity to survive. This also includes the history of the slave trade and indentured labour that stole people from their lands. 

Transphobia: refers to the hate, disrespect, erasure, discomfort, and dehumanization directed toward Trans, gender non-conforming, and gender diverse peoples. While this happens in individual interactions, it is also deeply embedded at the systemic, structural, and institutional levels. Other terms that you can look up for information: transmisogyny, cissexism    

Homophobia:  refers to the hate, disrespect, erasure, discomfort, and dehumanization directed toward queer people.

Liberation: refers to living in a world that is equitable, accessible, and genuinely inclusive and is absent of oppression and injustices. It is both an endpoint and a process without an ending, and demands a world where when wrong happens these wrongs are adequately attended to. Liberation means to live in a world without fear of persecution, death and lack due to the identities you hold. Liberation is the ability to be at home in our bodies, and Walcott (2003) says home for Black peoples is an ethical space.

Sanism (also known as mentalism)/anti-Black sanism: a form of discrimination and oppression against people who have been engaged by the psychiatric system (diagnosis, counselling, institutionalization). This discrimination may or may not be described in terms of mental disorder or cognitive impairment, and also can come from assuming someone has a diagnosis. Sanism can look like denying people privacy, freedom, mobility, as well access to employment, education, etc. Anti-Black sanism refers to the specific experience of sanism for the Black community where the intersections of anti-Black racism and sanism intersect to cause overrepresentation in institutionalization, inadequate care, as well as murders from police.

Ableism: refers to discrimination towards people within the Disability community. It can be through actions as well as underlying beliefs and attitudes in favour of “able-bodied” people. Ableism is the cultural, political, social, and economic exclusion and marginalization of Disabled peoples, resulting in policies, practices, attitudes, institutions, and structures that privilege able-bodied peoples. Disabled peoples can be “marked” by diagnosis, but also by perceived (whether real or imagined) bodily and mental differences.

Sexism: the structural and systemic oppression of women

Misogynoir: refers to the hate and disrespect of Black women that is deeply embedded in various systems, and is social, cultural, political economic. manifestation of gendered anti-Blackness directed at Black women.