The Community Activism Glossary


“Our World” by Darya Nicol, published in ‘agitate the administration’ (2017)




MelaNation aims to be a space where Black folks can engage in political education. So in each issue of the zine, there will be a Community Activism Glossary that defines some terms and concepts.

The Community Activism Glossary published in MelaNation’s first issue, ‘agitiate the administration,’ is below. We hope to gather additional information and terms from community feedback, so please comment if you see something you’d like to add!





MelaNation’s Community Activism Glossary — a short, incomplete list of social justice terms.

This glossary is not comprehensive and is meant to grow and evolve over time. Please email if you’re interested in contributing to the development of MelaNation’s Community Activism Glossary.

  • The Black Queer Feminist Lens  –  A Black Queer Feminist Lens allows us to understand that our identities make us vulnerable to multiple types of oppression. Therefore, liberation for all Black people can only be realized by lifting up the voices and experiences of historically silenced and vulnerable groups within Black communities. Specifically, queer, trans*, femme, poor, disabled and undocumented bodies are the ones most vulnerable because they are traditionally marginalized groups within already marginalized communities. It is in taking a Black Queer Feminist lens that one recognizes and humanizes Black bodies that have been made inferior.


  • Intersectionality  –  Taking into account every aspect of a person’s identity when we consider how oppression, power, and privilege affect their day-to-day life. (For example, please do not just think of a Black queer woman as just Black, or just a woman, or just queer – all of these identities shape her experience.)


  • Activism  –  Actions or involvement as a way to achieve political goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, and/or other actions.


  • Oppression  –  The denial or limiting of a group’s power and ability to participate fully in society because of their perceived inferiority by the privileged group. Oppression manifests in social ideologies, institutions, and interpersonal interactions.


  • Implicit Bias  –   Basically, these are the prejudices that you have about other people or things that you didn’t even know were there. Implicit biases often favor our own social group and disfavor other social groups. And even if you aren’t aware of them, you could still act on them ALL THE TIME. (for example, when a White person reflexively clutches their bag when a Black person walks by, they’re acting on their racist, implicit bias.)


  • Race  –  A sociopolitical construction that gives White people most of the power over people of color.
    • Racial and Ethnic Identity  –  The race that someone describes themselves as based on their biological heritage, culture, appearance, and personal experience.


  • Ableism   –  When people are treated poorly, excluded, and/or denied goods, services, and resources because they have disabilities.


  • Gender Identity     Whatever gender you feel represents your inner self, whether you feel that you are a man, a woman, both, or neither. There are infinite gender identities that someone can identify with. This identity is real, regardless of what sex is listed on someone’s birth certificate.


  • Trans  –  An abbreviation of transgender; a denotation of trans identity that recognizes that transgender people are not limited to a male/female binary.


  • Cisgender  –  When a person’s gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.


  • Gender Queer/ Gender Nonconforming/ Gender Nonbinary  –  A gender identity that articulates itself as existing outside of the male/female gender binary. Those who identify as gender queer, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary may or may not also identify under the transgender umbrella.


  • Queer  –  An umbrella term for individuals who do not identify as heterosexual. Queer includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, omnisexual, and sexual identities that do not fall under the dominant heterosexual sexuality.


  • Patriarchy  –  A type of group, society, or government in which men are given power over other genders.


  • Misogynoir  –  A combination of the words misogyny, which describes prejudice against women, and noir, which is a French word for black. Misogynoir is prejudice and oppression against Black women, and it considers the unique experiences that Black women face because of their racial and gender identities (remember intersectionality?)


  • Police Brutality  – When police do too much and abuse the power they have (for example, excessive tear gas, sexual abuse, racial profiling, physical intimidation). This violence disproportionately targets Black and Latinx folks.


  • Ally/Accomplice – A person who is a part of a privileged group who actively and consistently engages in dismantling their privileged status, supporting the interests of an oppressed group that they do not belong to, and facilitates the redistribution of power equitably.




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