Definitions Related to Race

Please Note: The following definitions are broadly crafted and not intended to be exhaustive of wider approaches since the Foundation's framework might employ differentiated strategies, particularly around diversity, inclusion, and equity. These definitions may evolve over time. 

Person/People of Color*

Individual(s) from an historically marginalized racial or ethnic group such as Native American/Indigenous Peoples, Black/African American, Latine, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI). *This definition is commonly referred to as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).


The collection of differences and similarities in a group. [1] Diversity encompasses all the characteristics that make people or groups different from one another. Diversity is multifaceted and can include characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socioeconomic status, language, and other characteristics.

Racial Diversity

The various racial or ethnic identities represented within a group.


Ensuring that traditionally excluded individuals and groups (such as people of color, women, and immigrants) are authentically engaged in participatory processes and activities in a way that shares decision-making power and embraces their voices.

Racial Inclusion

The inclusion of people of color within said processes and activities.

Institutional Racism

A systematic set of patterns, procedures, practices, and policies that operate within institutions so as to consistently penalize, disadvantage, and exploit individuals who are members of non-White groups. Researchers in this area find that institutional racism includes organizational procedures such as hiring, promotion, and evaluation; affects recruitment and promotion, institutional policies, and organizational climate; and may function at three distinct levels within institutions: attitudes and action of personnel, policies and practices, and structures and foundations. [2]

Structural Racism

The result of persistent historical and current collective actions which created a system that disproportionately 1) limits access by people of color to societal opportunities and benefits; and/or 2) increases exposure by people of color to societal ills. Structural racism is dynamic, cumulative, and oftentimes hidden. It affects all aspects of society including our values, norms, interpersonal interactions, and institutions. Structural racism not only impacts people of color, but increases anger, fear, and anxiety among Whites leading to greater isolation, apathy, and guilt. [3] 

Racial Equity

An analytical framework that acknowledges the impact of structural racism and proactively develops strategies and systems aimed at mitigating its effects on society. If achieved, one's racial identity no longer serves as a predictor of one’s life outcomes.

Person of Color-Led

Organizations whose staff leadership and decision-making board are predominately people of color. 

Person of Color-Centered

Organizations whose work primarily and explicitly focuses on people and communities of color, in terms of both the leadership and the impact of the organization. A Person of Color-Centered organization must be Person of Color-Led and informed by the communities it serves.

[1] OpenSource Leadership Strategy


[3] Spanierman and Heppner, Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites Scale (PCRW): Construction and Initial Validation.