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Race and Ethnicity, Borders and Populations


Indigenous can refer to the original inhabitants of a place, and to their customs, language, and other cultural markers. In the continental United States, Indigenous peoples are also referred to broadly as Native Americans, American Indians, and First Americans. Those who are Indigenous to Alaska are typically called Alaska Natives. There are several Indigenous Pacific Islander populations in the US, including Native Hawaiians, the CHamorus of the Mariana Islands, and Samoans. While Indigenous can be used as a broad category, it’s clearest to specify the population being referred to whenever possible, and to take into account an individual’s preference whenever possible.

Race and Ethnicity

African American

The term African American is used to describe people and cultures of African descent with longstanding roots in the United States. Though African American and Black are often used interchangeably, the former may be understood as a marker of an ethnic and cultural identity as opposed to a strictly racial one. More recent immigrants in particular may identify with country- or ethnicity-specific categories (e.g., “Haitian American,” “Afro-Latine”). As with any such identifier, when necessary and relevant to coverage to include, taking into account an individual’s preferred terms wherever possible ensures coverage accurately reflects how they self-identify.

Race and Ethnicity

antiracism / antiracist

Antiracism is active resistance to racist policies and practices. The burden of education about racism and systemic inequities, in this view, should not rest solely on those most directly affected.

Race and Ethnicity


Reparations involve the legal acknowledgment of human rights violations to a person or group of people along with benefits that compensate for loss. Generally in the United States, this refers to the descendants of formerly enslaved people; giving some explanation of the concept adds essential context.

Race and Ethnicity

Black / black

Black is the racial term used to describe people with roots in the African diaspora; physical markers that may typically be used to distinguish those considered Black from other racial groups include skin tone and hair texture. Though African American and Black are often used interchangeably, the former may be understood as a marker of an ethnic and cultural identity as opposed to a strictly racial one. Following an individual’s preferences when determining if, when, and how to use either identifier, including the capitalization of Black, ensures coverage reflects how a person self-identifies.

Race and Ethnicity

implicit bias

Implicit bias is a subconscious bias that includes negative associations about individuals or groups of people. Techniques to counter implicit bias in journalism could include finding as wide a variety of sources as possible, considering everyone as an individual rather than a “type,” and consulting trusted colleagues or third-party inclusivity readers on specific issues.

Race and Ethnicity


A reservation is land reserved for Indigenous peoples in the United States based on local, state, or federal laws. The terms Native nation and reservation are not interchangeable; the former refers to a political entity, while the latter refers to a Native population’s land base.

Race and Ethnicity

inclusion / inclusivity

Inclusion is sharing power by bringing historically underserved groups into processes and decision-making. Inclusivity in journalism can look like using gender-neutral language, featuring people (experts and non-experts) from a wide array of backgrounds, and ensuring stories about historically underserved groups do not only center on trauma.

Race and Ethnicity

restorative justice

Restorative justice is a theory that focuses on repairing harm caused by conflict and crime. The concept in the United States has its roots in Indigenous cultures, though the term “restorative justice” is a Western one. Giving some explanation of the principles — and the concept’s potential benefits and limitations within the existing justice system — provides essential context for audiences.

Race and Ethnicity

brown / Brown

Some stylebooks choose to capitalize this term, though those who argue against capitalizing often point out that “brown” as used in the US is an imprecise term and does not carry the same connotation of a shared social experience and history as the term Black. As with any such identifier, being as specific as possible and following an individual’s preference whenever feasible ensures coverage accurately reflects how someone self-identifies.