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Equity Language Use Statement
As a network focused on racial and ethnic equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), STEM PUSH is committed to both deliberately naming and regularly examining the names and terms we use to make sure they reflect the youth and communities we are committed to serving and centering in our work. STEM PUSH leadership regularly shares the work of our Network. Similarly, the individual programs that comprise our Network may benefit from discussing and sharing their participation in STEM PUSH (with funders, participants, other programs, etc.). Our cross-network descriptions do not and should not replace the deliberate, specific, self-identification of the youth, families, and communities that individual programs serve. Rather, these descriptions allow STEM PUSH leadership to support and simplify communication about the Network in ways that encompass the work of our vibrant and varied programs.
The language and terms we use to refer to racial and ethnic identities and social group membership are rooted in our commitments to specificity, power and intersectionality, and self-identification (described below).
To refer broadly to the youth and communities served across STEM PUSH program and Network work, we use the terms:
- Racially/ethnically minoritized (REM) students/youth/communities
- Using minoritized (rather than minority) recognizes that “systemic inequities, oppression, and marginalization”* negatively impacts people’s experiences and outcomes rather than simply statistical differences in representation.
- We recognize race as the socially constructed phenotypical distinctions made between individuals and groups and ethnicity as the related cultural expressions and identities of groups and individuals. Neither are rooted in “fact” or biology but they nonetheless have legal, material, and political impacts on both societal structures and individuals’ lived experiences.
- Multiply marginalized and underrepresented (MMU) students/youth/communities
- This term emphasizes the importance of recognizing the coexistence of multiple identities that can lead to the experiences of individuals and specific groups due to structures and processes that render them less able to access or do things.
To refer to the racial and ethnic groups that are the focus of our Network, we use the terms:
- When we are specifically naming individuals or individual programs, we reference specific nations or cultures of origin and use the terms used by those programs and their participants such as: Black American, Haitian-American, Caribbean etc.
- When we are specifically naming individuals or individual programs, we reference the specific Indigenous peoples or nations, and use the terms used by those programs and their participants such as: such as: Ak-Chin Indian Community, Havasupai Tribe, etc.
- When we are specifically naming individuals or individual programs, we reference specific nations or cultures of origin and use the terms used by those programs and their participants such as: Mexican-American, Puerto-Rican, etc.
To refer to other or to specify identities included as part of Multiply Marginalized and Underrepresented, we refer to the following guides and conventions:
As noted above, in discussing cross-network work or in the need for brevity, we may use broader terms (such as racially/ethnically minoritized—abbreviated as REM; or multiply marginalized and underrepresented—abbreviated as MMU). However, we endeavor to be specific about the populations and individuals to which we are referring and specifically the communities centered and served by our partner programs.
Power and Intersectionality
While naming racial and ethnic minoritization (itself a power embedded process), we also seek to acknowledge the social dynamics, intersectional aspects of identity, and the associated experiences based on the power dynamics associated with acting upon these identities. Identities including, but not limited to, ability, gender identity, sexuality, social class, religion, immigration status all contribute to systemic power, oppression, and experiences of marginalization. We seek to engage language that does not collapse these experiences or view them as interchangeable.
Our language use above all centers the importance of and power in self-naming—having space to name and claim a personal identity in ways that resonate and empower the young people and communities we serve. To that end, we look to our network participants and partner programs to name the identities that they and their students embrace.
These commitments are reflected in our current (but evolving and responsive) language as of November 2022.
In developing this statement, we drew from the following resources:
- The Growing Diversity of Black America | Pew Research Center
- Switching to “Latine” from “Latinx”
- MMU Scholars – Multiply Marginalized & Underrepresented Scholars – LibGuides at Utah State University
- Intersectionality, explained: meet Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term – Vox
- Glossary of Terms – Human Rights Campaign
- LGBTQ Definitions, Terms & Concepts – The Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Disability Language Style Guide
- *Sotto-Santiago, S. (2019). Time to reconsider the word minority in academic medicine. Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity, 12(1), 72-78.