A Quick Guide to the -isms and -phobias

-Isms and -Phobias are discriminatory (and often hostile) beliefs and behaviors based in stereotypes, fear and ignorance. These are some of the most common ones.

Racism prejudice, discrimination or antagonism by an individual, community or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

  • Individual racism​ refers to the beliefs, attitudes and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism in conscious and unconscious ways. The U.S. cultural narrative about racism typically focuses on individual racism and fails to recognize systemic or institutional racism.
  • Interpersonal racism​ occurs between individuals. These are public expressions of racism, often involving slurs, biases or hateful words or actions. 
  • Institutional racism​ occurs in an organization. These are discriminatory treatments, unfair policies or biased practices based on race that result in inequitable outcomes for whites over people of color and extend considerably beyond prejudice. These institutional policies often never mention any racial group, but the intent is to create advantages
  • Structural racism​ is the overarching system of racial bias across institutions and society. These systems give privileges to white people resulting in disadvantages to people of color.

Colorism – Within-group and between-group discrimination against people of color with darker skin tones and giving preference to people of color with lighter skin tones.

Tokenism – The practice of using people of color in a symbolic gesture to avoid criticism or being called racist.

Anti-Semitism – Discrimination against a Jewish people or people perceived to be Jewish because of their affiliation to Judaism.

Sexism –  prejudice or discrimination based on one's sex or gender. Sexism can affect anyone, but it primarily affects women and girls.

Ableism – Discrimination against people with impaired or limited abilities because of their physical abilities.

Ageism – Discrimination against older populations because of their age and perceived competence or capabilities.

Classism – Discrimination against people of lower class because of their economic status.

Elitism – Discrimination against people believed to be “less than” in terms of education, money, job status/position, etc.

Heterosexism/Homophobia – Discrimination against non-heterosexual people because of their sexuality.

Transphobia – Discrimination against transpeople or gender non-conforming people because of their gender identity.

Xenophobia – Discrimination against people from other countries or anyone deemed “foreign” because of their immigrant or visitor status.

Islamophobia - Discrimination against anyone practicing or perceived to be a practitioner of Islam because of their religious affiliation.

Atheophobia – Discrimination against anyone who identifies as Atheist or is perceived to be Atheist because of their lack of religious affiliation.

Fatphobia – Discrimination against people with bigger bodies because of their size.