REI Center Glossary

The following are a list of terms that are commonly found in REI Center documents and/or are used in equity spaces. 


Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against differently abled people based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that differently abled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their ability1

Anti-racism principles and Racial Equity principles  

“Anti-racism” and “Racial Equity” principles are similar. 

Principles and processes that stand opposed to processes and procedures that support a system of racism2


Hostility or discrimination towards Jewish people3.

Anti-white supremacy principles and white dominant culture  

Principles and processes that stand opposed to white supremacy culture, procedures, and processes4

Brave space

A communal space that centers respect, inclusion, compassion, and harm reduction when engaging in critical but difficult conversations about systemic oppression. 

Bottom-up approach

In reference to a hierarchical power structure, a bottom-up approach describes strategies executed at the lowest level of power that affect the entire organization. Both bottom-up and top-down (refer below) are required and essential for both whole system and organizational change. 

Classism or class discrimination

Institutional, cultural and individual practices and beliefs that assign differential value to people according to their socioeconomic class5.


Domination of a people or area by a foreign state or nation. This includes the practice of extending and maintaining a nation's political and economic control over another people or area6.

Emergent Strategy principles

A set of organizing principles for realizing social justice/movement work. Principles originally written by adrienne maree brown; principles summarized here7.

Liberating Principles

A set of ten leadership principles that act to guide our behavior as we work towards liberation from oppressive systems and structures8

Local unit

A term used by the REI Center to describe the focused area within OHSU that a single REI Center is dedicated to. 


A system of social relations in which there is gender inequality between socially defined men and women. In patriarchal societies, those socially defined as women are collectively excluded from political, social, and economic positions of power. While individuals that are socially defined as women may experience success in various spheres, women as a distinctive social group are generally disadvantaged9.


Persons excluded because of their ethnicity and race10

Queer antagonism

A system designed specifically to target and oppress queer people. This system spans from antagonistic attitudes and behaviors towards queer individuals to anti-queer policies and laws. 

Racial Equity Principles

Refer to Anti-racism principles above.

Radical Participation 

Radical participation is a philosophy that describes a system where every individual has something meaningful to contribute and participates accordingly. In the context of REI Center classes, it means that our learning depends heavily on individual participation and contributions during and after class. 

Systemic racism

A system rooted in a racist foundation, and is composed of intersecting, overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color11.

Systems lens

Also known as systems thinking, a systems lens is a practice and strategy of applying a holistic understanding of systemic racism or systemic oppression to events, experiences, or data12

Systems of oppression

Discriminatory institutions, structures, norms, policies, and practices embedded into our society and used to oppress groups of people.

Top-down approach 

In reference to a hierarchical power structure, a top-down approach describes strategies executed at the highest level of power that affect the entire organization. Both bottom-up (refer above) and top-down approaches are required and essential for both whole system and organizational change. 

Trans antagonism

Trans-antagonism specifically focuses on the action associated with antagonizing trans people, like hate speech and bigoted media, hate crimes, trans-exclusive legislation, etc. Trans-antagonism is a tool by which cisnormativity seeks to “correct” trans+ people through coercion and force13.

Transformative futures

A concept that refers to a marked and comprehensive social and systems change in ways aligned with anti-racism, anti-white supremacy, and liberating principles, with a core focus on the redistribution of power.

Virtue signal(ing)

Virtue signaling strategies serve to reform or reinforce an organization’s image as progressive, egalitarian, and committed to social welfare, while drawing attention away from injustices that the organization is directly responsible for. Institutional discourse risks being perceived as inauthentic if practices and outcomes do not reflect newly proclaimed values14.

Reference list:

  1. Ableism 101 - What is Ableism? What Does it Look Like?
  2. Action Tools - dRworksBook
  3. Anti-Semitism: Definition, Meaning 
  5. Classism | Student Affairs 
  6. Colonialism Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster
  7. Emergent Strategy
  8. Liberating Structures - Principles 
  9. Patriarchy 
  10. Race Matters 
  11. Definition of Systemic Racism in Sociology 
  12. Lens of Systemic Oppression — National Equity Project 
  13. Trans-Antagonism 
  14. Symbolic solidarity or virtue signaling