Key Terms and Concepts (Move to Glossary)

  • Displacement: the forced movement of people from their homes. In this context, we are discussing racialized displacement in the US. The process of displacement refers to both the forced uprooting of one racial group from their homes and their replacement by another racial group (or the interests of that group).

Further reading:


  • Dispossession: the process of stripping people of their claim to an area, property, or land. Dispossession refers to the deliberate severing of native claims to their homelands.

Further reading:

”An Indigenous Peoples’ History Of The United States For Young People,” Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz


  • Structural racism: the formalization of a set of institutional, historical, cultural, and interpersonal practices within a society that materially advantages some racial groups while disproportionately disadvantaged otherized racial groups. These advantages and disadvantages are compounded and passed down over time and transmitted from one generation to the next, regardless of the role individuals played in the origins of the process.

Further reading:

“Stamped From the Beginning Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,“ Ibram X. Kendi


  • White Supremacy: refers to a system that maintains legal, political, and economic privilege for whites. White Supremacy may also refer to the actions and activities of White Supremacist/White Power groups (e.g. the KKK).

Further reading:

“Beyond white privilege: Geographies of white supremacy and settler colonialism,” Anne Bonds & Joshua Inwood

“Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement & Paramilitary America,” Kathleen Belew


  • White Privilege and White Fragility: unlike white supremacy and structural racism, which refer to a system, white privilege and white fragility, refer to aspects of the particularized experience of white people and their position of advantage in the white supremacist system.

White privilege refers to the benefits and advantages the white people experience by the system of white supremacy. These benefits do not impact all individuals within a racial category the same, just as disadvantages are not identically experienced by people of color. It is also important to note that the benefactors of white privilege may (likely) have no direct connection to the implementation of policies and violence that constructed the system from which they now benefit.

White Fragility, on the other hand, refers to the reaction of white people when confronted with evidence of white supremacy, white privilege, racial inequality and injustice.

Further reading:

“History of White People,” Nell Irvin Painter

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” Robin DiAngelo

For further reading on the mobilization of race and class within capitalism, see: “Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order,” Stuart Hall, et al.


  • Segregation: segregation or racial segregation, refers to a system of separation, exclusion, and removal of people of color from “white space.” Segregation is and was geographically specific.

Further reading:

“The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” Richard Rothstein

“Colored Property State Policy & White Racial Politics in Suburban America,” David M P Freund

“City of Segregation: One Hundred Years of Struggle for Housing in Los Angeles,” Andrea Gibbons

“Segregation by Design: Local Politics and Inequality in American Cities,” Jessica Trounstine


  • De Jure vs De Facto Segregation:

De Jure (“by law”) segregation refers to the legally recognized institutional and formal policies and practices that create and enforce segregation.

Example: A racial covenant that expressly prohibits people of color from buying a property (this practice was legal until the mid-20th century).

De Facto (“by fact”) segregation refers to informal means of segregation that, while not legally recognized, enforce racial separation and exclusion.

Example: white violence against black residents and neighborhood hostility. While this harassment was and is not legal, it was used in countless instances to enforce racial segregation.

*Note: the distinction between de jure and de facto segregation is increasingly critiqued for dividing two interconnected processes

Further reading: *See “Segregation”


  • White Violence/Resistance:

Further reading:

Mapping Prejudice, University of Minnesota


  • Racial Covenants: legal agreements inserted into property deeds that barred people from purchasing, renting, and inhabiting property based on race. This segregative tool was used beginning in the late 19th century, until its eventual outlaw in the mid 20th century with court rulings (Shelley V. Kraemer, 1948) and national legislation (The Fair Housing Act, 1968). Despite their outlaw, the patterns of segregation these tools created endure to this day. In addition to lasting patterns of segregation, racial covenants created entrenched patterns of racial wealth stratification. Covenants not only kept people of color from investing in property, they enriched white people by artificially marking covenanted areas as more desirable and profitable (a process that was deepened still by redlining).

Further reading:

Mapping Prejudice, University of Minnesota


  • Redlining: redlining refers to a lending practice that piggybacked off of the segregation that covenants and white violence created. The Home Owners and Loan Corporation (HOLC) drew maps of major cities in the 1930s. These maps specifically graded areas of the city based on perceived risk of investment. Areas deemed “Hazardous” or “redlined” were marked as bad investments, making it nearly impossible to secure a loan to purchase property. Areas given the highest ranking, called “Best” or “greenlined,” were given considered a safe bet, and as a result capital was able to flow into these areas. This was a racist classification scheme. These classifications were directly linked to the racial character of residents and the existence of covenants. Communities of color were labeled “Hazardous,” while areas made white through the practice of covenants and whte violence were given the best raking.

Further reading:

Mapping Inequality, University of Richmond


  • Zoning: Some times referred to as restrictive or exclusionary zoning, is a practice that has been used for a wide variety of urban design Used as a tool for a wide variety of things

Further reading:


  • Urban Renewal: 

Further reading:

Renewing Inequality, University of Richmond


  • Gentrification:

Further reading:


  • Real estate steering:

    Further reading:


The Mapping Prejudice Curriculum Copyright © by Marguerite Mills. All Rights Reserved.

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