Assimilation is the suppression of differences. Sometimes, individuals choose to assimilate of their own free will; however, this process is mostly forced upon groups against their wishes. Assimilation forces one group to give up its culture in favour of another. Usually the minority adapts to the culture of the majority. This process is often heavily debated in the political culture of a country.
See also: Integration
Black People and People of Colour (BPoC)
The term ‘Black Person and Person of Colour’ (plural: Black People and People of Colour; abbreviated BPoC) is a self-determined designation of and for people who are not ‘white’. The ‘Black People and People of Colour’ description assumes that people who are not ‘white’ skinned have a common horizon of experience in a predominantly ‘white’ society. The term encompasses all ‘non-white’ people, emphasising common experiences of systemic racism. The term may also be used with other collective categories of people such as ‘Black Communities and Communities of Colour’, ‘Black Men and Men of Colour’ (BMoC), and ‘Black Women and Women of Colour’ (BWoC).
It is necessary to differentiate between ‘Black People’ and ‘People of Colour’ since ‘Black People’ are also discriminated by other ‘People of Colour’ and vice versa. Sometimes, these two terms are used interchangeably, yet also sometimes as complementary; as these are relatively new and self-designated terms, they are still being debated. Therefore, the term ‘Black People and People of Colour’ was developed as a self-determined term to bridge this divide. Both ‘BPoC’ and ‘PoC’ are especially used in Germany in academic and political contexts. ‘People of Colour’ (PoC) is a common term in many English-speaking countries and therefore used more often within that social context. The debate regarding the political correctness of the term depends on the country and its own discussions. Within the EU, different terms are applied. In some European countries, BPoC or/and PoC are common terms where in other European countries those terms are not used yet.
Coexistence describes societies in which diversity is emb’race’d for its positive potentiality, equality is actively pursued, interdependence between different groups is recognised, and the use of weapons to address conflicts is increasingly obsolete. Coexistence is evidenced in relationships across differences that are built on mutual trust, respect and recognition, and is widely understood as related to social inclusion and integration. The term coexistence has a particular focus on intergroup relations. Other languages or terms seek to describe a similar vision including ‘social cohesion’, ‘social inclusion’, and ‘social integration’. Coexistence work also covers the range of initiatives to ensure that communities and societies can live more
equitably and peacefully together.
Colonialism is the policy of former colonisers or colonial states (e.g. some European countries like Great Britain, Spain, France, Belgium, German, etc.) seeking to extend or retain their authority over indigenous people and their territories with the aim of opening up trade opportunities for themselves. The colonisers seek to benefit economically, whilst the colonised countries are left in hardship and sometimes abject poverty. Others describe colonialism as a relationship of domination of an indigenous majority by a minority of foreign invaders, where the latter rule in pursuit of its interests.
Neo-colonialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalisation and cultural imperialism to influence a ‘developing country’ in lieu of direct military control (imperialism) or indirect political control (hegemony).
Cross-cultural deals with the comparison of different cultures. In cross-cultural communications, differences are understood and acknowledged and can instigate or develop change at an individual level, but not collective transformations. In cross-cultural societies, one culture is often considered ‘the norm’ and all other cultures are compared or contrasted to the dominant culture.
Democracy derives from the ancient Greek word ‘demos’ which means people. The word ‘democracy’ suggests a form of government ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’. In Europe, the philosophers of the Enlightenment era developed it further. Nowadays, the term democracy usually refers to the concept of a state, which includes more than just voting for representatives in an election. In this case, democracy also means being able to participate in society with the same rights as other people.
Participation is taking part in an activity together with other people and being involved in making decisions such as in a youth organisation. This view of democracy includes listening and paying attention to the opinions of the minority, even if the majority has a different opinion. This ideal includes being able to deal with diversity and eventually compromising the good of all people.
Discrimination is a biased and negative action or reaction towards a person or group of persons on the basis of certain characteristics such as skin colour, sex, sexuality, nationality, social class, ethnicity or origin etc.
The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people, and in communities, in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to the professional support of people to be empowered. Empowerment enables people to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognise and use the resources at their disposal.
In social work, empowerment forms a practical approach of resource-oriented intervention. In the field of citizenship education and democratic education, empowerment is seen as a tool to increase the responsibility of the citizen. Empowerment is a key concept in the discourse on promoting civic engagement. In our context, empowerment refers to enabling minorities and BPoCs to challenge power structures e.g. in a workshop designed to empower people by sharing their experiences without facing harassment and suggestions of inadequacy from outsiders.
Equality is the state of being treated fairly and equally without hinder or favour. It means that no person is more important than another, regardless of social position. Of course, people are not identical to one another in their interests, abilities, and lifestyles. Therefore, equality for people is about having the same rights and the same opportunities. People must have equal opportunities to succeed in education or work, depending on their own efforts. Equality will only be a reality when people have the same rights and access to shelter, food, water, social security, education, civil rights, citizenship, etc.
Hate crime (also known as a bias-motivated crime or bias crime) is a prejudice-motivated crime, which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his/her membership (or perceived membership) in a certain social group or ‘race’. To be considered a hate crime, the offence must meet two criteria: first, the act must constitute an offence under criminal law; second, the act must have been motivated by bias.
Bias motivations can be broadly defined as preconceived negative opinions, stereotypical assumptions, intolerance or hatred directed to a particular group that shares a common characteristic such as ‘race’, ethnicity, language, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender or any other fundamental characteristics. People with disabilities may also be affected by hate crimes.
Hate crimes can include threats, property damage, assault, murder or any other criminal offence committed with a bias motivation. Hate crimes do not only affect individuals from specific groups. People or property associated with – or even perceived to be a member of – a group that shares a protected characteristic such as human rights defenders, community centres or places of worship can also be targets of hate crimes.
Hate speech is a term for public discourse intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudice against a person or group of people based on their ‘race’, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language, moral or political views, socioeconomic class, occupation or appearance (such as height, weight, and hair colour), mental capacity and any other similar distinctions. The term covers written, oral and visual communication in the mass media as well as some other forms of behaviour in a public setting, for instance on the internet.
The irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals is called homophobia. Homosexuals have, in the past, been described as ‘mad, bad and sad’: psychologically ill, perverts and a threat to traditional values. A lot of homophobia stems from certain religious beliefs. In general, homophobic people see another person’s (homo-)sexuality first and his/her humanity later. Homosexuals have been persecuted for centuries and are still being persecuted in many countries. As the word ‘homosexual’ has been used to define a ‘disease’, many prefer to use the word gay, lesbian or LGBTQIA* (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersexual, asexual, or other).
Integration is a process of unifying individuals and activities into a new system. It means that minority groups and the majority group develop a new way of living, which includes elements of values and ideas from both groups. Integration also means that everyone finds a place in
society and there are no fundamental divisions between groups. Integration can mean that an active minority has to integrate into a passive majority of a society, which appears a one way process that does not acknowledge the minority culture’s benefits. It can also be referred to as a fact that ‘inclusion’ as a term is more commonly used when referring to ‘people with disabilities’.
See also: Assimilation
Interculturalism is the belief that we become richer people by knowing and experiencing other cultures. Different people should be able to live together even if they have different cultural backgrounds. Interculturalism is about accepting and respecting differences. People who believe in interculturalism believe that they can learn and profit from meeting other cultures.
Intercultural describes communities that have a deep understanding and respect for all cultures. Intercultural communication focuses on the mutual exchange of ideas, cultural norms and the development of deep relationships. In an intercultural society, no one is left unchanged because everyone learns from one another and grows together.
Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. The concept is largely used in critical theories, especially in feminist theory, when discussing systematic oppression. While the theory began as an exploration of the oppression of Black Women and Women of Colour within society, today, the analysis is potentially applied to all social categories (including social identities usually seen as dominant when considered independently).
Intersectionality can be applied to nearly all fields, from politics, education and healthcare, to employment and economics.
Intolerance is a lack of respect for the practices or beliefs of others. This is shown when someone is not willing to let other people act in a different way or hold different opinions. Intolerance can mean that people are not treated fairly because of their religious beliefs, their sexuality, or even their clothes and hairstyle. Intolerance does not accept differences. It is the basis of racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and discrimination in general. It can often lead to violence.
Microaggressions have been defined as brief and common, sometimes daily, verbal, behavioural, and environmental communications, whether intentional or unintentional, that transmit hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to a target person because they belong to a stigmatised group. Although these communications typically appear harmless to observers, they are considered a form of covert racism or everyday discrimination. Microaggressions differ from ‘macroaggressions’, which are more extreme forms of racism (such as lynching or beatings) due to their ambiguity, scale and commonality. Microaggressions are experienced by many stigmatised individuals and can occur on a regular basis. These can be particularly stressful for people on the receiving end as those committing them easily deny them, or perhaps do not recognise them as such. They are also harder to detect by members of the dominant culture, as they are often unaware that they are causing harm.
Microaggressions can include statements that repeat or affirm stereotypes about a minority group or subtly demean its members. Such comments also position the dominant culture as ‘normal’ and the minority one as aberrant or pathological, expressing disapproval of or discomfort with the minority group. Such comments assume that all minority group members are the same, minimising the existence of discrimination against the minority group, seeking to deny the perpetrator’s own bias, or minimising real conflict between the minority group and the dominant culture (e.g.: ‘Oh you speak perfect English!’, ‘Where are you from?’, ‘Where are your parents from?’, ‘Can I touch your hair?’, ‘You are surprisingly articulate!’ etc.).
Migrant is a universal term for any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a state away from their habitual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status, length of stay, reason for the moving and whether the move is voluntary or involuntary. Even after obtaining citizenship of a new and chosen country or state, they might be perceived as a ‘migrant’ by the majority population, even though they are technically not migrants anymore.
In some way, we all are part of a specific minority. A minority group is a group of people resident within an area in that constitutes less than 50 percent of the area’s total population. Members share common characteristics of either an ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender-identity or other nature that distinguish them from the rest of the population. Sometimes, we consider a group a ‘minority’ not because of the percentage of people in a particular area, but because of their position. A minority can have a lower social and/or economic position than the majority and therefore, does not have as much power as the majority group, despite being more numerous. Sometimes a minority sees itself as a separate nation.
Multiculturalism means the existence, or the promotion of the existence, of different cultures alongside each other, usually in one country. Many people use this concept when they speak of an anti-racist future. However, multiculturalism can also mean the mutual isolation of cultures. Some racists believe in a kind of multiculturalism that is close to the ‘apartheid’-system that existed in South Africa, where different cultures were separated in a cruel and unjust way.
A nation is a group of people with the desire to see themselves as one coherent group. They recognise a common ancestry, a common history and often a common territory. Nations are not organic, biological or natural entities. They exist because of the will of people. They are ‘imagined’. This does not make them less real in the world, as we have to deal with the belief of people that exists. The existence of nations as essential building blocks of our world is relatively new, arising during the 19th century. States that wanted to unify people in their country propagated the idea of a ‘one nation’ with one history, one language and one territory.
Nationalism is a political ideology that puts the interests of one ‘nation’ or national group above the interests of others and above all other relationships, whether it is family, friends, gender or humanity. It is often linked to a territorial claim. Nationalism makes the difference between people as a result of a border, which often has nothing to do with the people living in the region, but with the king or other authority putting a line on a map. This political idea proclaims citizens of one nation to be superior to others. Nationalism usually leads to suspicion of other nations. An extreme form is ‘chauvinism’. Originally, the notion of nationalism was not so negative, as it also dealt with the development of citizen’s rights and the emancipation of oppressed minorities. However, if the concept is linked to heritage, identity and ‘blood’, nationalism can be a dangerous idea.
Patriotism means being proud to be a member of one’s own nation or loving one’s nation. Patriotism stems from an emotional approach to nationality and its culture and society. Friendship with other countries and nationalities, and the respect of their rights and interests is still possible. While it is different from (political) nationalism, patriotism can easily become the engine for intolerant nationalism.
When you form an opinion about a person without knowing them, based on assumed characteristics of the group you think they belong to, then you are prejudiced. Prejudices are complex ideas that are preformed and presumed without being proven right. The mind of human beings cannot work completely without prejudice. By becoming aware of our own prejudices, we stand the chance of overcoming them. If someone is prejudiced, they will be inclined to see only those things that confirm their ideas and thus strengthen their prejudice, and the stereotypes they believe in. A stereotype is a generalised judgment of different categories of people.
Racism is the belief that some people are superior/inferior because they belong to a particular ‘race’. Racists define a ‘race’ as a group of people with common ancestry. They distinguish different ‘races’ from one another by physical characteristics, such as skin colour and hair texture. In fact, no clear differences exist, and especially no differences that actually matter. Recent research shows that ‘race’ is an imagined entity, since ‘race’ has no biological basis. The word ‘racism’ is also used to describe abusive or aggressive behaviour towards members of a so-called ‘inferior race’. Racism takes different forms in different countries, according to history, culture and other social factors.
A relatively new form of racism sometimes called ‘ethnic or cultural differentiation’ says that all ‘races’ or cultures are equal and unique, and they should not be mixed together to keep their originality. There is no scientific proof of the existence of different ‘races’. Biology has only determined one ‘race’: the human ‘race’.
To differentiate ‘racism’ from other forms of discrimination, or to determine whether something can be labelled ‘racist’, certain characteristics have to be taken into consideration: construction and hierarchisation of difference, and relative positions of power. This means that in addition to a form of discrimination, the historical background of colonialism and the relative position of power of the discrimination’s target contribute to the definition of ‘racism’.
Racism against the majority (either a member or group of that majority or the majority in general) of a society, as a result of favourable treatment given to the minority. In so-called ‘western’ societies, reverse racism mostly means against ‘white’ people. However, assumptions and stereotypes about ‘white’ people are examples of racial prejudice, not racism. Racial prejudice refers to a set of discriminatory or derogatory attitudes based on assumptions deriving from perceptions about ‘race’ and/or skin colour. Thus, racial prejudice can indeed be directed at ‘white’ people (e.g. ‘White’ people cannot dance.) but is not considered racism because of the systemic relationship of power. When backed with power, prejudice results in acts of discrimination and oppression against groups or individuals. There is also little to no empirical evidence to support the idea of reverse racism on a societal level.
Institutional racism (also known as systemic racism or structural racism) is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions. Institutional racism is also racism by individuals or informal social groups governed by behavioural norms that support racist thinking and foment active racism. It is reflected in disparities regarding wealth, income, criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other factors. One example of institutional racism is racial profiling, which is the act of suspecting or targeting a person of a certain ‘race’ on the basis of observed or assumed characteristics or behaviour of a racial or ethnic group, rather than on individual suspicion.
A refugee is a person who flees because of danger or a life-threatening situation. On the one hand, refugees are defined as those asylum-seekers that are granted a refugee status and on the other hand, as someone who needs refuge or protection from danger. The choice between those definitions is a political one, not a linguistic one. Sometimes, economic refugees are also recognised. They are people who flee from economic uncertainty, exploitation, hunger and misery. The Geneva Convention definition of refugees is detailed and somewhat restrictive. It includes those persons that are persecuted because of their supposed ‘race’, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa from 1969 enacted by the Organisation of African Unity (today: African Union) also includes those seeking refuge from natural disasters and famine. The recent Dublin Agreements limit the Geneva Convention definition to refer only to political persecution of individuals by the state.
Sexism makes an unfounded difference between the sexes. Physiologically speaking, men and women are built differently, which is the only reason why it is sometimes appropriate to treat them differently. To differentiate between sexes is discrimination. Sexism is a form of discrimination. Instead of speaking of sexes, activists often refer to ‘gender’. Sex is a biological term, whereas gender is a sociological or political term. Gender is the way society defines masculinity and femininity. Activists note also that there is little evidence of ‘reverse sexism’ or sexism against men, since the position of power is and always has been in favour of men. Sexism usually elevates heterosexual men over other sexes or genders e.g. transgender or intersex people.
Social Exclusion is the opposite of social integration. It is usually seen as a result of discrimination on the basis of cultural background, ethnic background, disability, sexual orientation, etc. It can result in poverty and animosity between groups and in exclusion from essential social provisions such as education, health care and community activities. This exclusion is not always based in law (although it frequently or usually is); however, it is often based on attitude: making standards too high so that a certain group cannot reach it, reinforcing a dress code a group cannot comply with, etc. One example of a social excluded group is homeless people.
Tolerance is the respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance means harmony in difference. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is being yourself without imposing your views on others. Tolerance is not giving in or giving up. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal and fundamental freedoms of others. The practice of tolerance does not mean tolerating social injustice or abandoning or weakening one’s convictions. Tolerance is not always a positive concept. Traditional definitions of tolerance do not include respect or acceptance, as the original translation of ‘tolerare’ in Latin means ‘to endure’ or ‘to bear’, thus having a negative connotation. In consequence, the use of the term ‘tolerance’ is heavily debated in political communities.
Transcultural is described as ‘extending through all human cultures’ or ‘involving, encompassing, or combining elements of more than one culture’. Transculturalism opposes the singular traditional cultures that evolved from a nation-state. Transculturalism is based on breaking down boundaries. It is contrary to ‘multiculturalism’ because most experiences have shown [or reinforced] boundaries depending on past cultural heritages. In transculturalism, the concept of culture is at the centre of the nation-state or the disappearance of the nation-state itself. Transculturalism is rooted in the pursuit of defining shared interests and common values across cultural and national borders.
Transculturalism is characterised by cultural fluidity and the dynamics of cultural change. Whether by conflict, necessity, revolution or the slow progress of interactions, different groups share their stories, symbols, values, meanings and experiences. More than ‘multiculturalism’ which seeks to solidify differences as ontology, ‘transculturalism’ acknowledges the uneven interspersion of ‘difference’ and ‘sameness’. It allows individual groups to adapt and adopt new discourses, values, ideas and knowledge-based systems. It acknowledges that culture is always in a state of flux, and always seeking new terrains of knowing and being.
‘Xenophobia’ literally means a fear of strangers. It is a specific form of racism targeting mostly people with a migrant background. The word is used to describe hostility towards people who come from other countries or other ethnic groups, and as a lack of respect for their traditions and culture.
The terms ‘black’ and ‘white’ are never really about the colour of skin, nor an exactly definable number of people: in the same way that all ‘European whites’ from Sweden to southern Spain cannot be assigned to a single ‘group’, neither can that work with all ‘Black People’. However, such social similarities arose from the construct of racism, and a need to name it, such as the fact that throughout history and still today, there are different opportunities in the housing and labour markets. Thus, the terms ‘white’ and ‘black’ have proven themselves as a marker of distinction with regard to unbalanced power dynamics. In this way, sociopolitical affiliations rather than ‘biological’ attributes are of importance here.
We love feedback!
If you would like to give your feedback on specific methods, please use the comment section available. Or if you would like to give us your thoughts on the project as a whole contact us.