The Power of Language: Labeling Your Experience




These vocabulary terms may help you identify and navigate through your experiences as an African American woman in a monochromatic environment.



Affect- a person’s emotional state- feelings and moods (Baron & Byrne, 2002).


Ambivalence-mixed positive and negative feelings (Coon, 2002).


Anxiety- apprehension, dread, or uneasiness similar to fear but based on an unclear threat (Coon, 2002).


Attitude- a favorable or unfavorable evaluative reaction toward something or someone, exhibited in one’s beliefs, feelings, or intended behavior (Myers, 2005).


Attribution- the process through which we seek to identify the causes of others’ behavior and so gain knowledge of their stable traits and dispositions (Baron & Byrne, 2002).



Behavior- The actions by which an organism adjusts to its environment (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2002)



Collectivism- giving priority to the goals of one’s groups (often one’s extended family or work group) and defining one’s identity accordingly (Myers, 2005).


Cognition- processes of knowing, including attending, remembering, and reasoning; also the content of the processes, such as concepts and memories (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2002).


Cognitive Dissonance- an unpleasant internal state that results when individuals notice inconsistency between two or more of their attitudes or between their attitudes and their behavior (Baron & Byrne, 2002)


Confirmation bias- a tendency to search for information that confirms one's preconceptions (Myers, 2005).


Conformity- a change in behavior or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure (Myers, 2005).


Coping- Responding to stress in a way that reduces the threat and it effect; includes what a person does, feels, or thinks in order to master , tolerate, or decrease the negative effects of a stressful situation (Baron & Byrne, 2002)


Counterspace- sites where deficit notions of people of color can be challenged and where a positive collegiate racial climate can be established and maintained (Solorzano, Ceia, & Yosso, 2000).


Culture- the enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next (Myers, 2005).


Cultural competence- This refers to the ability of an individual or an organization to acquire sufficient knowledge of the culture of diverse groups to increase tolerance, understanding and acceptance and to reduce stereotypes, misunderstandings and prejudice (Pope-Davis et al., 2003).



Denial- protecting oneself from an unpleasant reality by refusing to perceive it or believe it (Coon, 2002).


Discrimination- negative behaviors directed toward members of social groups who are the object of prejudice (Baron & Byrne, 2002).



Fundamental Attribution Error- The tendency to overestimate the impact of dispositional cues on others’ behavior (Baron & Byrne, 2002)



Gendered Racism- term used to describe how sexism and racism “narrowly intertwine and combine under certain conditions into one, hybrid phenomenon (Essed, 1991). Gendered racism is demonstrated thorough societal stereotypic images of men and women of color. (Myers, 2005).


Groupthink- the tendency of members of highly cohesive groups to assume that their decisions can’t be wrong, that all members must support the group’s decisions strongly, and that information contrary to it should be ignored (Baron & Byrne, 2002)



Impression Management- efforts by individuals to produce favorable first impressions on others (Baron & Byrne, 2002).


Individualism- giving priority to one’s own goals over group goals and defining one’s identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications (Myers, 2005).


In-Group- the social group to which an individual perceives herself or himself as belonging (“us”) (Baron & Byrne, 2002).


In-Group Diffrentiation- the tendency to perceive members of our own group as showing much larger differences from one another (as being more heterogenous) than do those of other groups (Baron & Byrne, 2002).


Intersectionality- The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarding as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage (Crenshaw, 1991; Oxford Dictionary, 2015)



Learned Helplessness- the hopelessness and resignation learned when a human or animal perceives no control over repeated bad events (Myers, 2005).


Locus of Control- the extent to which people perceive outcomes as internally controllable by their own efforts and actions or as extremely controlled by chance or outside forces (Myers, 2005).



Marginalize- to relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge of social standing (American Heritage Dictionary, 2001).


Memory- the mental system for receiving, encoding, storing, organizing, altering, and retrieving information(Coon, 2002).


Microaggressions- brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights because of someone's identity (e.g. race, gender, class) (Sue, 2010).



Need for Affiliation- the basic motive to seek and maintain interpersonal relationships (Baron & Byrne, 2002).


Need to Belong- a fundamental interpersonal motive to obtain acceptance and avoid rejection by other people. The basic tenet of this theory is that achieving a sense of acceptance and belonging is necessary for psychological and physical well being (Baumiester & Leary, 1995).


Negativity Bias- refers to the fact that we show greater sensitivity to negative information than to positive information (Baron & Byrne, 2002).



Oppression- In a feminist context, Alison Jaggar defined oppression as ‘Unjust, humanly imposed restrictions on people’s freedom’ (Jaggar, 1983:5).


Ostracism- exclusion, by general consent, from social acceptance, privileges, friendship, etc (Williams, 1997).


Out-Group- any group other than the one to which individuals perceive themselves belonging (Baron & Byrne, 2002).


Outsider-Within Experience- outsiders within are able to gain access to the knowledge of the group/community which they inhabit (or visit), but are unable to either authoritatively claim that knowledge or possess the full power given to members of that group. Collins sees Black women as ideal outsiders-within, in that they were both dually marginalized (as women and as Blacks) yet able to move among a variety of communities; she perceives the result of this boundary crossing to be a particular collective viewpoint known as the Black feminist standpoint (Hill-Collins, 1999).