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Inclusive Language

Introduction and Definitions

Race, ethnicity, and nationality/national origin are often used synonymously but mean different things. Across history and culture, these three definitions have overlapped, adding to their confusion, as these largely abstract concepts have very genuine, real-world influence. For more information on the definitions and their differences, we recommend our Pratt faculty and staff take the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Allies Training Certificate Program, which educates the Pratt community on important terms and concepts integral to an in-depth understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Race: Physical characteristics that define a person as a member of a specific group. Things that define race can include skin color, hair color and texture, eye color, facial features, and physical build. Race is a social construct, and what defines who belongs to a particular race can vary. The idea of "race" originated from anthropologists and philosophers in the 18th century, who used geographical location and phenotypic traits like skin color to place people into different racial groupings. That not only cemented the notion that there are separate racial "types" but also fueled the idea that these differences had a biological basis - which it does not. The modern-day definition of race does not include any biological or genetic component.

Ethnicity: Cultural characteristics that define a person as being a member of a specific group and can include: language, accent, religion, styles of dress, hairstyles, social customs, food, and dietary preferences or restrictions.

Nationality: The legal sense of belonging to a specific political nation-state. Can include: Citizenship (birthright or naturalized), and national origin.

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