A Glossary Of Common Terms

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Although activism isn’t new, with every generation of activists comes a new set of words, acronyms and phrases. This list of common terms you might hear as you become an influencer activist isn’t exhaustive. We’ll keep updating as our language evolves.


Abolish the Police – movement that advocates replacing the police with other systems of public safety, a process which requires communities to create alternatives to policing.

ACAB – All Cops are Bastards

Ageism – prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s age.

APIDA – Asian Pacific Islander Desi American

Art activism – art created with a purpose to bring awareness and promote social change. It can be presented in the form of exhibits, performances, street murals, posters, media platforms, and music.

Asian American – Americans of Asian ancestry. The term refers to a pan-ethnic group that includes diverse populations, which have origins in East Asia, South Asia, or Southeast Asia, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.


BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Blamestorming – a discussion or meeting for the purpose of assigning blame.

Body diversity – refers to the myriad of shapes, sizes, weights, heights, and forms of the bodies in which we humans live and breathe


Cis/cisgender/cissexual – a term for people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth (eg: a person who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is a cisgender woman)

Centering – a deflection tactic, intentional or not, that usurps the conversation of the movement at that moment. It is also seen as a form of gaslighting when the person centering themselves is attempting to diminish someone’s experience and feelings.

Cultural diversity – generally refers to our ethnicity and the set of norms we absorb from the surrounding environment and society in which we were raised. Cultures can vary even within the same country or region.


Defund the Police – Movement to reduce, reallocate, or redirect money away from the police departments to community oriented areas such as education, public health, housing, and youth services. Related to but not exactly the same as Abolish the Police.

Desi-American – Americans with ancestry of the Indian subcontinent (eg: Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans)

Disability diversity – refers to the broad categories of cognitive, learning, mental health, physical, and sensory disabilities. Other integral differences to consider among disabled people include how a person became disabled, how long they have had their disability, and the evolution of their thinking and philosophy about disability.

Doxxing – when people search for and publish (on the internet) private or identifying information about you and/or your family, with the purpose of malicious intent.


Ethnicity – Ethnic groups are related to race, but not exactly the same. Ethnicity is a grouping where the people identify with each other on the basis of common ancestry, nation, language, history, society, culture, race, or social treatment.





Implicit Bias – refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect one’s understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner, specifically to a group of people.




Latinx – a term for people of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina).


Micro-aggressions – Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religious slights and insults to the target person or group


Neurodiversity – the concept that differences between brains are totally normal, that conditions like ADHD or autism fall under the aegis of normal variations of the human. Its aim is to show that there is a wide range of learning and thinking differences among human brains.


Online Activism – refers to the use of social media, emails, podcasts, and various other forms to deliver particular information to an online audience. While online activism can specifically refer to larger coordinated movements of which you may or may not be a part of, it can also be defined as using your influence online to talk about the issues and topics you care about.


POC – Person/People of Color


Queer – is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender


Race – a socially constructed means of grouping humans together based on shared physical and social traits. Modern scholars generally agree that racial identity is based on rules to establish meaning in a social context. Race is created by society (often by socially dominant groups) and does not have any inherent biological or physical meaning

Religious diversity – refers to the many and varied religious theologies, practices, and customs of people.


Sex/gender or Sexual orientation – Sexual and gender diversity refers to all the various sex characteristics, orientations, and gender identities in the human spectrum. These ever-expanding and nuanced classifications cover sexual orientation (asexual, bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual) and gender identity (cisgender, intersex, nonbinary, or transgender)

Social Justice – justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society


Trans/transgender/transsexual – a term for people whose gender identity or gender expression differs from their sex assigned at birth. (eg: a person who identifies as a woman and was assigned male at birth is a transgender woman)




WOC – Woman/women of color