This glossary provides simple and basic definitions to some very complex concepts. It is recommended that you use these definitions as a jumping off point to more deeply engage these terms, learn how to understand them, and apply them.


the myth that racism no longer exists, and that all races are treated equally in all facets of life


benefits and advantages that are unearned and awarded based on identity; ie., white privilege


a formerly derogatory term used to refer to homosexuals, which has been reclaimed by the LGBTQ community and used to designate its members. Also an area of scholarly inquiry; ie., queer theory


a person who is exploring or unsure of his or her sexuality


a marker of difference and way of categorizing individuals based on physical characteristics, particularly one’s skin color; historically used in governance, institutional policies and representational practices (including media).


discrimination against someone or some group of people based upon race


in studies of media, the ways in which particular groups, topics, communities or ideas are portrayed through narratives, images, text or sound


discrimination against someone or some group of people based upon sex


a category of identity based upon sexual orientation

sexual orientation

one’s mode of sexual attraction; ie., homosexual, heterosexual


to judge or discriminate against a person based on his or her skin tone

social construction

the human symbolic creation of meaning and order in the world. The notion that the world is not “given,” “objective,” or “fact,” but has rather been built via culture, history, and ideology


a shorthand used to classify cultural groups and individuals based on a simplified, overgeneralized and often biased understanding of how that cultural group operates


refers to heterosexual individuals and groups


segments or divisions of society that help to classify or group people, i.e. lower class, middle class