Using “isms” to change conversations about privileges

This is my working definition for using the suffix ism to name the prejudice associated with a different privileges.

Isms are used to form names relating to the benefit though privilege of a certain group described by the root word, or a pattern of behavior or a social norm that benefits members of the group indicated by the root word.

It can be a confusing definition!

Root words

The root words describe the spectrum of a privilege.

I am thinking about the the privileges that I experienced by putting together the following list of  privileges | isms.

  • white (living in NYC, U.S. with documentation as a native English speaker) | benefitting from racism
  • man | benefitting from sexism
  • straight (cisgender and married to a woman) | benefiting from heterosexism
  • able-bodied (and relatively mentally healthy) | benefiting from ableism
  • debt-free and  paid a living wage l benefiting from classism
  • 30 years old | benefiting from ageism

This list is probably incomplete and perhaps wrongly phrased, if there more effective or useful ways to describe these, I am very happy to hear about them.

Individual-level vs. Systemic-level

My use of this model is drawn directly from Race Forward’s Moving the Race Conversation Forward. The report clearly presents research, analysis, and suggestions that “[aim] to reshape and reform the way we talk about race and racism in our country.”

Isms play out like this:

  1. Internal [Individual-level]
    “lies within individuals. These are our private beliefs and biases.”*
  2. Interpersonal [Individual-level]
    “occurs between individuals. These are biases when individuals interact with others.”*
  3. Institutional [Systemic-level]
    “occurs within institutions and systems of power.”*
    like schools
  4. Structural [Systemic-level]
    “is bias among institutions and across society”*
    most obviously in the media*[pt 1, pg 3; Moving the Race Conversation Forward]


A place to start

Between privileges and isms we have tools to have a shared conversation about pushing back against privileges and isms.

Conversations that use these tools to make more justice in the world is the process that I think of as a solidarity of machine. It’s the work of folks with privilege to stand in solidarity with folks who don’t have privilege.

I hope that it’s possible to use the spaces in which you don’t experience privilege to build empathy. Empathy is the power that keeps the machine running.

Hello World

HTML Elements

Below is just about everything you’ll need to style in the theme. Check the source code to see the many embedded elements within paragraphs.

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, test link adipiscing elit. This is strong. Nullam dignissim convallis est. Quisque aliquam. This is emphasized. Donec faucibus. Nunc iaculis suscipit dui. 53 = 125. Water is H2O. Nam sit amet sem. Aliquam libero nisi, imperdiet at, tincidunt nec, gravida vehicula, nisl. The New York Times (That’s a citation). Underline. Maecenas ornare tortor. Donec sed tellus eget sapien fringilla nonummy. Mauris a ante. Suspendisse quam sem, consequat at, commodo vitae, feugiat in, nunc. Morbi imperdiet augue quis tellus.HTML and CSS are our tools. Mauris a ante. Suspendisse quam sem, consequat at, commodo vitae, feugiat in, nunc. Morbi imperdiet augue quis tellus. Praesent mattis, massa quis luctus fermentum, turpis mi volutpat justo, eu volutpat enim diam eget metus. To copy a file type COPY filename. Dinner’s at 5:00. Let’s make that 7. This text has been struck.

List Types

Definition List

Definition List Title
This is a definition list division.
An exact statement or description of the nature, scope, or meaning of something: our definition of what constitutes poetry.

Ordered List

  1. List Item 1
  2. List Item 2
    1. Nested list item A
    2. Nested list item B
  3. List Item 3

Unordered List

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
    • Nested list item A
    • Nested list item B
  • List Item 3


Table Header 1 Table Header 2 Table Header 3
Division 1 Division 2 Division 3
Division 1 Division 2 Division 3
Division 1 Division 2 Division 3

Preformatted Text

Typographically, preformatted text is not the same thing as code. Sometimes, a faithful execution of the text requires preformatted text that may not have anything to do with code. Most browsers use Courier and that’s a good default — with one slight adjustment, Courier 10 Pitch over regular Courier for Linux users. For example:

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!”


Code can be presented inline, like <?php bloginfo('stylesheet_url'); ?>, or within a <pre> block. Because we have more specific typographic needs for code, we’ll specify Consolas and Monaco ahead of the browser-defined monospace font.

#container {
	float: left;
	margin: 0 -240px 0 0;
	width: 100%;


Let’s keep it simple. Italics are good to help set it off from the body text. Be sure to style the citation.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.

HAL 9000

And here’s a bit of trailing text.