Defining Our Terms

ODEI Word Cloud

Words have power. Using the correct language is essential to communicate respect and inclusivity, acknowledge the complexity behind different issues, and can help us all understand a specific scenario before moving forward together. This is our list of commonly used words and phrases and how we define them. It is not a comprehensive list but rather is meant to serve as a starting point for communication and learning.


An acronym that stands for Asian American and Native American Pacific Island Serving Institutions. These are institutions of higher learning in which 10 percent or more of the student demographics are Asian American or Native American Pacific Islander. Learn more about the University of Minnesota’s designation.


An acronym that stands for Asian American and Pacific Islander. The term is used to describe a diverse and fast-growing population of 23 million Americans that include roughly 50 ethnic groups with roots in more than 40 countries. This includes all people of Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander ancestry who trace their origins to the countries, states, jurisdictions and/or the diasporic communities of these geographic regions.


A lifelong role in which people with privilege and power work to develop empathy towards other marginalized groups challenges and issues and use their power to make the marginalized group feel valued, supported and heard. Being an ally takes action.


Refers to the active process of naming and confronting racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.


A term that stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. It is based on the recognition of collective experiences of systemic racism and meant to emphasize the hardships faced by Black and Indigenous people in the United States and Canada. The use of this term is still evolving.


A social system of customs, learned behaviors, and norms that a group of people develop and create together to ensure its survival and adaptation. It is also a system of values, habits, skills, ideologies, and beliefs.


Diversity simply means variety. There are endless ways to be a diverse community - race, religion, ethnicity, economic background, geographic origin, gender, sexuality, ability, belief, and more.

Equity vs. Equality

Equity is the state, quality or ideal of being just, impartial and fair. Equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. The difference, and why we focus on equity, is that not everyone starts from the same place, faces the same barriers, or needs the same things.

Implicit Bias

Favorable and unfavorable attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases are activated involuntarily and without your awareness.


It’s not enough to be there, you must belong there.


The process of society moving from an unfair, unequal, or inequitable state to one that is fair, equal, or equitable. A transformative practice that relies on the entire community to acknowledge past and current harms to reform societal morals and subsequently the governing laws. Proactive enforcement of policies, practices, and attitudes that produce equitable access, opportunities, treatment, and outcomes for all regardless of the various identities that one holds.


Acronyms that refer to communities of individuals who are not heterosexual and/or cisgender. Individually, the letters stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual. The plus (+) includes all other expressions of gender identity and sexual orientation and recognizes that definitions may grow and evolve overtime.


Commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory slights toward culturally marginalized groups.


A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.


A socially constructed system of dividing humans into groups based on physical traits regarded as common among people of shared ancestry.


A belief that race determines human traits and capacities and that racial differences result in the superiority of a race over another and the behavior or attitudes that reflect and foster this belief.

Underrepresented in Medicine (UIM or URiM)

As defined by the AAMC, “Underrepresented in medicine means those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population.”

Underrepresented Minority (URM)

A term used by the AAMC, before switching to UIM on June 26, 2003, to define a group consisting of “Blacks, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans (that is, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), and mainland Puerto Ricans. The AAMC remains committed to ensuring access to medical education and medicine-related careers for individuals from these four historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.”

URiM vs. URM