Talking about Racism, Bias & Social Justice — English Resources & Vocabulary

Jun 2, 2020 | Advanced Vocabulary, Special Confident English Lesson

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was wrongfully killed by police in Minneapolis, MN. This is not the first time we have felt sad, hurt, shocked, or angry by acts of injustice and racism. And it may not be the last.

For some, this means it’s time for bold action.

Action to prevent harm. Action to listen, learn, and speak out. Action to stop future injustice. Action to demand social justice.

For others, it means having time to rest, recover from hurt, heal, and — if desired — share.

If you want to talk about these issues in English or take action but don’t know how, I want to help.

In this special lesson, you’ll find:

  • Vocabulary: Key vocabulary to help you with new or difficult words like BIPOC, discrimination, social justice, bias, and more.
  • How to Show Compassion and Care: Do you have friends or colleagues you’re worried about? I have some questions and comments you can use to check in with friends and make sure they are okay.
  • Resources: If you want to learn more about racism, injustice, and inequality, I’ll share some articles, stories, and podcasts. These are the same resources I’m reading and listening to.
  • More Voices: The most important way to listen, learn, and grow is to engage with other voices. One of the things I love most about our Speak Confident English class discussions is the in-depth explorations of identity we have. We listen to, communicate with, and learn from each other. I encourage you to do that same with your English learning. Add more English voices to your daily life. Learn from a variety of teachers around the world — native and non-native speakers. Listen to stories from English speakers around the world. I’ve got some recommendations for you below.

I also want to hear from you.

I know you may have stories you want to share, articles you recommend I read, videos that highlight what is happening where you live.

You may also have questions you want to ask.

I’m listening. You can share all of that with me and more in the comments below.

I will continue to update this lesson answer any questions you have.


Key Vocabulary

Video Summary:

Get a better understanding of 8 keywords on the topic of racism, bias, and social justice to help you speak confidently on these topics in English.

In this video you’ll learn:

  • Bias (Minute 4:30)
  • Discrimination (Minute 7:03)
  • Microaggression (Minute 7:50)
  • Examples of microaggressions (Minute 8:50)
  • Systemic racism (Minute 10:09)
  • People of color (Minute 10:54)
  • Social justice (Minute 11:12)
  • White privilege (Minute 12:14)
  • Ally (Minute 12:43)

In this video, I also mention these lessons and resources:

More Vocabulary for Confident Conversations:

I want you to feel confident in the words you use to express your feelings, ideas, and stories.

On the topic of racism and social justice, I recommend this helpful video from JamesESL.

He clearly demonstrates the meaning of words such as racism, sexism, biased, prejudiced, and more. It’s a must-watch.

Plus, here is a list of words from the video and several more that you may be hearing/reading right now:

  • BIPOC: An acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
  • WOC: An acronym for Women of Color.
  • Indigenous: People and/or things that live or come from a particular region or environment. For example indigenous people, indigenous languages, indigenous culture, indigenous plants, etc.
  • Social justice: Equal/equitable access to wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
  • Microaggression(s): A comment or action that subtly and perhaps unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.
  • Prejudice: An unfair (and potentially) harmful feeling, dislike, or judgment against someone or something.
  • Marginalized: To put someone in a powerless position.
  • Racism: Violence or bad treatment against someone because of their race.
  • Discrimination: The action or practice of treating other people unfairly.
  • Bias/Biased:  A belief that some people, ideas, etc., are better and treating others unfairly as a result.

If there are other words you’ve heard/read and you aren’t sure what they mean, let me know. I’ll add them to this list.

Questions for & Conversations with Loved Ones

You may have friends, neighbors, family members, and colleagues who are suffering right now.

If you’re not sure what to say, I have a lesson on how to Express Kindness, Comfort, and Compassion in Times of Crisis or Grief

These statements and questions will help to check in and care for your friends. 

Resources: Articles, Videos, Podcasts and More

As a white female in America, I have privilege. A lot of it.

And I have a lot to learn so that I can better serve my friends, my neighbors, my community, my city, my team, my students, and you.

If you also want to learn or understand the social injustices that exist in the United States, here’s what I’m reading and listening to:

Article: 1619 America Slavery (New York Times)

Article: Dear White People, Your Black Colleagues Aren’t Okay

Essay: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh

Podcast: Code Switch (with Transcript)

Podcast: 1619 Project

Your Questions:

This week I received many emails from students asking about ‘All Lives Matter.’ I recommend this article to learn why it’s problematic: Black Lives Matter Explained.


Resources Shared by Our Community:

Video: White Fragility

More Voices

I LOVE that you’re part of the Speak Confident English Community. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. 

As you continue in your English journey toward confidence, I recommend that you learn from a variety of English teachers AND English speakers. 

Just like watching a TV show or listening to a podcast, you can learn a wealth of new vocabulary, sharpen your listening skills, develop your speaking style, and much more from English speakers around the world.

PLUS, you’ll expand your understanding of others by learning through their experiences, ideas, and lives.

More English Stories and Speakers: 


More English Teachers:

There is no end to the number of teachers you can learn from online — through YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.

As a language learner and teacher, I know two things are true:

1. It’s essential to feel comfortable and safe with the people you learn from. Language learning and speaking involves risk and vulnerability, so you need to feel like you’re in the right place.

2. The more people you learn from, the better. In my French learning experience, I loved developing my vocabulary and speaking style with teachers from all over France and the Francophone world. My French teachers came from: France, Morocco, Burundi, Switzerland, Canada, and Cameroon.

I encourage you to do the same in your English journey.

Find teachers with different styles, accent’s, and backgrounds. Learn from native and non-native English teachers. You’ll expand your English MORE than you thought possible. 


Don’t forget: I would love to hear from you.

I welcome your comments and questions.

I’ll be reviewing them regularly and will be sure to provide future lessons on the topics you need most.


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