BLM Cheat Sheet

Definitions for common words and phrases in conversations around social justice. But don't just take our word for it, check out what the community is saying.


The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.

Cultural Appropriation Was Always Inexcusable
I am not your moodboard
It’s Trendy, and its Black


An individual who unites themselves with another to promote a common interest where both benefits.

Allyship And #BlackLivesMatter: A Conversation Across Cultures
Rosa Clemente On Allyship And Confronting Anti-Blackness
How to Tell If You're Being a Good Ally

Algorithmic Bias

Systems perpetuating biases based on who builds them, how they’re developed, and how they’re ultimately used.

Social media platforms begin to acknowledge inherent biases
Algorithmic Justice League
The Real Reason Tech Struggles With Algorithmic Bias


Actions or behaviors that minimize, marginalize or devalue the full participation of Black people in life. The spectrum of anti-Black actions and behaviors spans from unconscious bias to motivated acts of prejudice.

'Boycott for Black Lives': People plan to stop spending in companies that don't support BLM
As big corporations say ‘black lives matter,’ their track records raise skepticism
Activists Are Pushing For Consumers To Support Black Businesses. Is It Sustainable?

Anti-Lynching Act

A United States landmark federal law which makes lynching a federal hate crime. To amend section 249 of title 18, United States Code, to specify lynching as a hate crime act.

Antilynching Act Signed into Law
What Antilynching Law Means in 2022
H.R.55 Emmett Till Antilynching Act


The policy or practice of opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance.

'Me And White Supremacy' Helps You Do The Work Of Dismantling Racism
How Can Parents Make Their Kids Understand How To Be Anti-Racist?
Anti-racism: You may be doing it wrong. Here’s why.

Black Fishing

A type of interpersonal racism that depicts Black people as stereotypes and portrays Black culture as a product.

TikTok Star Addison Rae Has Been Accused of “Blackfishing”
From Blackface To Blackfishing
Blackfishing: 'Black is cool, unless you're actually black'

Breonna's Law

Prohibits no-knock warrants, which generally permit law enforcement officers to enter a premises without first identifying their authority and purpose. Specifically, it requires federal law enforcement officers to provide notice of their authority and purpose before executing a warrant.

New Breonna Taylor Law Will Ban No-Knock Warrants in Louisville, Ky
Louisville council passes 'Breonna's Law' banning no-knock warrants
No-Knock Warrants Banned In Louisville In Law Named For Breonna Taylor


Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

'Other People's Skin' Hightlights Colorism in Black Community
Lupita Nyong'o penning children's book about colorism
Fight Against Colorism Takes On Amazon: Beauty ‘Cannot Be One Skin Color’

Coded Language

Substituting terms describing racial identity with seemingly race-neutral terms that disguise explicit and/or implicit racial animus.

The sneaky language today's politicians use to get away with racism and sexism
Coded Language Is Part of Our Racist Education System

Code Switching

The practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation.

Five Resons Why People Code Switch
The Mental Health Cost of Code Switching on Campus
Code Switching: Are we all Guilty?

Covid Deaths

In 2020, racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 age-adjusted death rates were reported among U.S. residents.

Black Americans dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of white people
What Do Coronavirus Racial Disparities Look Like State By State?
D.C.'s Black Residents Make Up Less Than Half The Population, 80% Of COVID-19 Deaths

Defund the Police

Reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality.

Protesters Call For Police To Be Defunded. But What Does That Mean?
Defunding The Police: What Would It Mean For The U.S.?
There's a growing call to defund the police. Here's what it means

Direct Action

Action that seeks to achieve an end directly and by the most immediately effective means.

Direct Action: Guide for Activists
Civil Rights Movement - Direct Action

Environmental Racism

Environmental injustice that occurs within a racialized context both in practice and policy.

Trump's EPA Concludes Environmental Racism Is Real
Environmental Justice & Environmental Racism
Why the Larger Climate Movement Is Finally Embracing the Fight Against Environmental Racism

Generational Wealth

Money and assets passed down from one generation to another, such as investments, real estate, family businesses and other holdings.

What is Generational Wealth?
Why the Racial Wealth Gap is so Hard to Close
What to Know About Wealth Inequality in America


To manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

How Gerrymandering stifles potential voters and candidates as well as skews policy
What Re-Districting Looks Like Across the Country
Everything You Need to Know About Gerrymandering


A holiday celebrated on 19 June to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation.

The History Of Juneteenth, And Why It Is Relevant Today
The Truth About Juneteenth


An extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, punish a convicted transgressor, or intimidate people.

Remembering The Lynching Of Claude Neal
Police say deaths of black people by hanging are suicides. Many black people aren’t so sure.
America's legacy of lynching isn't all history. Many say it's still happening today

Medical Violence

Systemic racism contributes to the denial of conditions which people are born, grow, live, work and age to Black Americans. Policy experts believe these conditions have a greater impact on health outcomes than medical care itself.

'Bear Our Pain': The Plea For More Black Mental Health Workers
How Police Killings Lead To Poor Mental Health In The Black Community
If you wear a white coat, stand up for black lives


A statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.

Microaggressions Are A Big Deal: How To Talk Them Out And When To Walk Away
Microaggressions: Be Careful What You Say
It "makes you feel invisible"

Police in Schools

Many under-resourced schools relyon police rather than teachers and administrators to maintain discipline. As a result, children are far more likely to be subject to school-based arrests. These arrests for minor infractions disproportionately target students of color and students with disabilities.

Do Police Officers Make Schools Safer or More Dangerous?
Do Police Officers In Schools Really Make Them Safer?
A movement to push police out of schools is growing nationwide. Here is why

Prison Labor

Work that is performed by incarcerated and detained people. Not all prison labor is forced labor, but the setting involves inherent power imbalance because those incarcerated have few avenues to challenge abuses behind bars. Free prison labor can be a valuable activity that becomes exploitative when there are elements of coercion, force, and threat of punishment against detainees.

The Uncounted Workforce
Serving Time Should Not Mean ‘Prison Slavery’
Why US inmates launched a nationwide strike

Qualified Immunity

a legal principle that grants government officials performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known".

An Immune System
Qualified Immunity Explained
Why police can violate your constitutional rights and suffer no consequences in court

Racial Gaslighting

A form of psychological manipulation that makes people of color question their own experiences of racism.

This Woman’s Post About Racial Gaslighting Blew Up Online — Here’s Why It’s Important
'Racial gaslighting made me feel like a foreigner in my own home'
How to recognize if you're being racially gaslighted


How media texts deal with and present gender, age, ethnicity , national and regional identity, social issues and events to an audience.

Hollywood's Colorism Problem Can't Be Ignored Any Longer
After years of talking about diversity, the number of black leaders at US companies is still dismal
Posting a Black Square, but Not Black Faces


The making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.

Reparations Are a Concrete Way to Address Systemic Racism and Inequality
After years of talking about diversity, the number of black leaders at US companies is still dismal
Posting a Black Square, but Not Black Faces

Secrect Federal Officers

Unidentified federal officers on patrol in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles.

Camouflaged federal authorities arresting protesters in Portland
Here's what's happening in Portland

Systemic Racism

A form of racism that is embedded in the laws and regulations of a society or an organization. It manifests as discrimination in areas such as criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, education, and political representation.

What Systemic Racism Means And The Way It Harms Communities
Reparations Are a Concrete Way to Address Systemic Racism and Inequality

Voter Purging

An often-flawed process of cleaning up voter rolls by deleting names from registration lists.

Are States Purging Or Cleaning Voter Registration Rolls?
Democrats roll out new tool to combat voter purges

13th Ammendment

States that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

'13th' Maps The Road From Slavery To Mass Incarceration
Slavery as a punishment for crimes is in the books
Why the United States Constitution Needs An Equal Rights Amendment