From Ally to White Supremacy: A Glossary For Talking About Racism

Australia still turns a blind eye to Aboriginal people dying in ... Image Darrian Traynor/Getty Images


George Floyd’s murder by a white police officer on May 25 has reignited protests and conversations about systemic racism, oppression and white privilege across America and in Australia too. These are complex issues to wrap your head around, full of complicated ideas and terms. 

An effective way to combat racism is through self-education. So, we’ve put together this glossary of words to know plus this list of anti-racism resources.



An ally is someone who is not a member of a marginalised group but who acts to support that group.


“To get there, we need Indigenous people to be at the forefront, with white allies supporting us.”

― Keely Silva



Someone who campaigns to bring about political or social change.



The policy and practice of actively opposing racism and promoting racial equality.


Institutional/structural/systemic racism

When the systems, processes and institutions by which we live our lives disadvantage black people and POC (see below). Things like education, employment, healthcare, politics and the law are what we call institutions.


“If government wants to end racism. It needs to give black people same things it gives to white people. Power, money, funding, jobs, opportunities, good education, good health and respect.”

― De philosopher DJ Kyos


Intergenerational trauma

Long lasting and deep psychological harm as result of oppression that is passed down through and has a damaging effect on later generations. Trauma that has been experienced by someone’s family members can still be felt strongly down the line. 



The interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.


Marginalised people

People who have less access to the same rights, protection, resources and opportunities enjoyed by others in society. Women, POC, people with disabilities, people who are trans, sex workers and homeless people are all examples of marginalised groups. This is informed by the idea of white supremacy (see below) that our societies are based on. 



Read more: Blak Lives Matter 



The malicious and unjust treatment of a person or group by another person or group. Certain people are more oppressed than others; people experience oppression in different ways and to different extents.


People of colour (POC)

Stands for persons of colour or people of colour. POC is a broad term that describes people who are not white and do not benefit from white privilege, such as black people, Indigenous people, Asian people and Latinx people. 


Police brutality

When a police officer(s) exercises undue or excessive force against someone. This includes physically or verbally harassing them, physically or mentally injuring them, damaging their property, stalking or killing them.


supporting the black lives matter movement

Read more: Blak in Australia: Anti-Racism Resources for Self-Education



The distinct groups or ‘races’ to which different people are thought to belong to based on their physical and behavioural traits.


Racial equality/justice

When institutions give equal opportunities to all people regardless of skin colour; legally, morally and politically treating all people in the same way.


Race riot 

A public outbreak of violence due to racial hostilities. 

Read more:
Feminist Glossary 


Racial profiling

The use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offence.



Prejudice or discrimination directed against people of a particular race.  


“Thinking about power made me realise that racism was about so much more than personal prejudice. It was about being in the position to negatively affect other people’s life chances.”

Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race



The restoration of friendly relations.


Social justice 

The equal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within society.



Harmful beliefs which are widely held by lots of people but have no basis or proof.


White privilege

White privilege refers to the benefits that people have, and the ease with which they are able to live their lives, because they are white.


“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”

Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race


White supremacy

A racist belief that white people are superior to people who are not white and should be dominant over them.


Check out this list of books, podcasts, activists + more to support anti-racism self-education. 

If you need support or just someone to talk to, you can find them here.

Sophie is the Editor of Rosie. She lives in Melbourne, reads & chases the sun.

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