Begun as a Twitter hashtag created by author Corinne Duyvis to recommend books about diverse characters that are written by people who share those identities, #OwnVoices has become a movement calling for library staff to purchase books by marginalized authors and illustrators – books that authentically and accurately portray their lives.


A person who has moved from supporting oppressed and marginalized individuals or groups to dismantling the structures that oppress that individual or group
An advantage is a benefit, a “leg up;” something that puts a person in a better or superior position compared to others.
A person who supports or stands with individuals or groups who are facing oppression and marginalization because of their identity or identities (racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, etc.)
American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN)
Persons belonging to the Indigenous tribes of the continental United States (American Indians) and the Indigenous tribes and villages of Alaska (Alaska Natives).


The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.
A concept introduced by critical race theorist Richard Delgado to describe a method of “telling the stories of those people whose experiences are not often told.” Texts which act as counterstories validate the life experiences of BIYOC and challenge the versions of reality held by the dominant culture.
Cultural competence
Culturally competent librarians and educators understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural competence encompasses:

  • being aware of one’s own world view
  • developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences
  • gaining knowledge of different cultural practices and world views
  • developing skills for communication and interaction across cultures

Underlying cultural competence are the principles of trust, respect for diversity, equity, fairness, and social justice (Rhonda Livingstone).


The presence of heterogeneous people in a given place or time.


Education debt
A concept introduced by Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings to describe how the historical, economic, sociopolitical, and moral inequities that characterize American society and are accumulated over time negatively impact the education of BIYOC. Ladson-Billings argues that it is this debt that should be the focus, not the achievement gap.
Enabling texts
A concept developed by Dr. Alfred Tatum to describe texts which:

  • Promote a healthy psyche
  • Reflect an awareness of the real world
  • Focus on the collective struggle of African Americans
  • Serve as a roadmap for being, doing, thinking, and acting.

The concept can also be applied to texts that feature other marginalized communities.

A state in which everyone gets the same treatment, the same chances, the same resources, et cetera. When we focus on equality, our ultimate goal is fairness.
A state in which everyone gets what they need to succeed. When we focus on equity, our ultimate goal is justice.


Implicit Bias
Implicit biases are attitudes or stereotypes that unconsciously affect our actions, decisions, and understanding.

  • Implicit biases can be positive (a preference for something or someone) or negative (an aversion to or fear of something or someone).
  • Implicit biases are different from known biases that people may choose to conceal for social or political reasons. In fact, implicit biases often conflict with a person’s explicit and/or declared beliefs.
  • Implicit biases are formed over a lifetime as a result of exposure to direct and indirect messages. The media plays a large role in this formation process.
  • Implicit biases are pervasive: everyone has them.
  • Implicit biases are changeable, but research shows that this process takes time, intention, and training.
As defined by sociologist Marta Tienda, “organizational strategies and practices that promote meaningful social and academic interactions among persons and groups who differ in their experiences, their views, and their traits” (2013, p. 467).
Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place


Microaggressions are subtle verbal or nonverbal insults or denigrating messages communicated toward a marginalized person, often by someone who may be well-intentioned but unaware of the impact their words or actions have on the target.


Native American
All Native peoples of the United States and its trust territories (i.e., American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Chamorros, and American Samoans), as well as persons from Canadian First Nations and Indigenous communities in Mexico and Central and South America who are U.S. residents.


Oppression refers to the systematic disadvantaging, marginalizing, devaluing, and subjugation of one social group by another, more powerful, social group and for the social, economic, and/or political benefit of the more powerful group. Scholars and equity advocates Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson describe four key elements of oppression:

  1. The more powerful group has the power to define what is “normal,” “correct,” or “real” for themselves and for others.
  2. Various forms of differential and unequal treatment, such as harassment and discrimination, are systematic and institutionalized, such that individual members of the more powerful group do not have to expend any personal effort or thought to maintain the status quo of inequity.
  3. The oppressed group is socialized to internalize the negative messages about themselves and cooperate in their own oppression by thinking and acting like the more powerful group.
  4. The culture, language, and history of the more powerful group is imposed as “normal,” while the culture, language, and history of oppressed groups are misrepresented, devalued, or eradicated.


Prejudice is a “pre-judgment,” usually negative, based on bias and stereotypes rather than on the individual characteristics of a person. Prejudice prevents people from being recognized and treated as individuals, and can be especially damaging when directed toward oppressed or marginalized people because of the pervasive negative stereotypes about these groups. No one is completely free of prejudice.


Race is a social and political construct created by Europeans during a period of worldwide colonial expansion for the purpose of concentrating power among “white” people and legitimizing their dominance over non-whites. A large body of scientific research has shown that there is no biological basis for the standard racial categories in use today; genetic differences are not fixed along racial lines. However, race is “real” in the sense that a person’s skin color plays a large role in determining their life outcomes and experiences. Despite the fact that racial categories are scientifically specious, most scholars and activists agree that using race as a political and/or social category remains necessary as a tool to help us understand persistent structural inequities and discrimination.
Racism is a system of advantage and oppression based on race, created to concentrate social and institutional power among those designated as “white,” and to exclude all others from receiving these benefits.
An area of land set aside for North American Indians.


Social and Institutional Power
Social and institutional power includes preferential access to resources; the ability to influence others; access to and knowledge of existing social, political, and economic systems; and the ability to define reality for yourself and others. Social and institutional power is unequally distributed globally and nationally, and may be conferred by one’s gender, race, sexuality, wealth, education, or other means.
The authority of a state to govern itself.
Stereotypes are judgments or characteristics attributed to specific groups of people — races, genders, age groups, etc. — that may or may not be true for any one specific individual within that group.
A system consists of a set of things that work together for a common purpose or with a common outcome. Once established, a system runs by itself and does not rely on the planning or initiative of any particular person or group to continue producing its “normal” outcomes. Examples of systems of interest to racial equity advocates are the education system, the criminal justice system, and the healthcare system.


A written agreement between two or more countries, formally approved and signed by their leaders
Tribal sovereignty
Tribes govern themselves in order to keep and support their ways of life, cultural, political, and economic bases.


A powerful social and political construct with no biological or scientific foundation, created by white power holders to codify the superiority of white people over others, consisting of three dimensions as defined by Robin DiAngelo:

  1. Structural advantage – a privileged position within society and its institutions for whites
  2. A standpoint from which white people look at [themselves], others, and at society – one that allows them to see [themselves] as individuals, as “just human.”
  3. A set of cultural practices that are not named and acknowledged – norms and actions that consistently create and perpetuate advantages for whites and disadvantages for BIPOC (2018, p. 27).

Di Angelo argues that these dimensions of whiteness, each of which benefits whites, are usually invisible to whites. She writes: “[Whites] are unaware of, or do not acknowledge, the meaning of race and its impact on [their] own lives. Thus [they] do not recognize or admit to white privilege and the norms that produce and maintain it” (2018, p. 28).


Youth agency
For BIYOC, agency can include:

  1. participating in collection development, policy, and programming decisions/li>
  2. influencing class topics, activities, and final products
  3. sharing their ideas about problems that exist in their schools, libraries, and communities and offering potential solutions
  4. collaborating with other youth and with adults to engage in Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)
Youth Participatory Action Research
A research method in which youth who identify as BIPOC who are directly impacted by a problem engage as co-researchers in the research process. In collaboration with adults, BIYOC (1) identify an issue that is affecting their own education, library, or community; (2) determine how to best study the issue; (3) conduct the research; and (4) develop and enact solutions that effect change. For more information, see the YPAR Hub website.
Youth voice
Youth voice has two dimensions. One dimension recognizes that BIYOC have stories to tell, that their stories are important, and that by telling their stories they enrich the narrative about what it means to be a BIYOC in the United States today. The second dimension includes a social action component – one that recognizes that youth can provide a unique insight into the issues facing BIYOC and their communities. This dimension supports youth agency and positions youth as agents of change in their schools and communities.