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School-to-Prison Pipeline Vocabulary

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I’ve created a vocabulary list because:

  1. 1. Language can be a powerful tool for understanding one’s own experiences
  2. 2. For clarity in how I use terms in blog posts that may differ from others.

If you do nothing else, please watch this video from Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. This video is under 5 minutes and is a clear and to the point way of understanding the different “levels” of racism.

This concept of levels of racism is key to understanding the School-to-Prison pipeline (STPP) and how interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism all work together to form STPP. Without understanding these concepts we cannot have a decent conversation on race, racism, and racial justice.

The speaker talks about a new report for about a minute. Forward a minute to get right into the talk about the levels of racism.

School Resource Officers: They are often sworn police officers employed by local police departments and are assigned to schools. In some school districts, officers may even be directly employed by the district (Kim and Geronimo). 

Zero tolerance policies: Policies that punish using suspension or expulsion on the first offense for a variety of misbehaviors, although initially instituted for possession of a weapons.

Colorblindness: I define colorblindness through Eduard Bonilla-Silva in his book Racism without Racists, 2010. Colorblindness has been the norm since the end of the Civil Rights Movement and is the belief that race no longer matters. People who use this perspective refuse to acknowledge race and racism, even if it is the obvious issue at hand.

Implicit racism: The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Implicit racism, like other implicit biases, is activated unconsciously, involuntarily, and/or without one’s awareness or intentional control. These attitudes, stereotypes are not accessible through introspection and everyone has them (Rachlinkski, Johnson, Wistrich, & Guthrie, 2009). Implicit association can be positive or negative and vary in the population.

Race: Is a social construct that is used to divide the human population. Race is not based on the biology but is frequently based on phenotype such as facial characteristics, skin color, hair, etc.

Ethnicity: Any category of people within the larger society who possess distinctive social or cultural traits, a shared history and a sense of commonality, regardless of the group’s size, power, race, language or time of immigration.

Prejudice: A conscious or unconscious opinion made about a group of people that is usually negative.

Discrimination: When prejudice is acted upon.

Racism: Discrimination on the basis of race. May be the result of explicit or implicit prejudices.

Racial Microaggressions: “common daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities that can be intentional or unintentional that degrade, communicates hostility, and insult people of color” Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life, Sue, et al, 2007.

Internalized Racism: The conscious or unconscious belief and/or acceptance, by people of color or racial stereotypes and prejudice that pervade the cultural context of the larger society. The internalization of these stereotypes can result in self-limiting behaviors and actions toward others that reinforce the stereotypes.

Institutional racism: Refers to institutions that have discriminatory practices and policies, such as within schools or law enforcement. Structural racism: Refers to racism across different institutions that make up our society.