SOVAW is providing this Glossary of Terms because we believe in a multiracial democracy, one aimed at protecting Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other communities and individuals of color from systemic harm, and institutional perpetuation of these harms and oppression.

After 400 years of institutional oppression, we challenge you to think about what 400 years of truth and reconciliation might look like. One cannot exist without the other.

Our goal is also to encourage ownership over these terms and how they are consistently used to harm the very communities that our organization and work are aimed toward protecting. We also encourage you to join us in our efforts to move forward as a nation where our right to exist is as fully recognized and embraced as others’ right to exist is.

Antebellum. The entire Period before the Civil War (pre-1861) during which time slaves were not granted bodily or legal autonomy.

Anti-Woke. “Anti-Black.” Co-opted and weaponized African American Vernacular English that both dismisses the linguistic  tools that Black people use to protect themselves while simultaneously mocking Black culture. 

Bad Actor.  A person with malicious intent while simultaneously claiming innocence and free speech to mask their goal of specifically harming a specific group of people. 

Bodily Autonomy.  Refers to exclusive ownership and control over one’s body without exception (e.g., preserving and reinforcing the right of a Black woman to freely make decisions on behalf of her health, wellness, finances, and overall rights).

Cancel Culture.  Also known as accountability. In order to level the playing field, those who seek to harm Black and Brown communities must be held accountable and take responsibility for their words and actions.

Chattel Slavery. The legalized, monetized rape and forced birth of Black women and Black people with uteruses who were required to produce up to 27 children as property while performing uncompensatted hard labor (farm and domestic).

Children’s Rights. Also known as children’s bodily autonomy, this reinforces children’s ownership over their unique existence, including gender expression and phenotype (i.e., how they are perceived racially), and understanding of/access to education about their identity. (See parental rights.)

Computational Propaganda. The use of technology to game the systems of content management on platforms to disseminate information (i.e., disinformation) in a malicious way to harm people.

Counternarrative. A fact-based response to false statements or accusations. (See disinformation.).

Critical Race Theory (CRT). An academic legal framework in the law that recognizes the impact of racism and legislation, commonly taught in graduate school. CRT has been appropriated and weaponized by white supremacists and the Right to attack Black thought and discourage dialogue around systemic racism. 

Deplatform. Historically, this refers to removing accounts from social media platforms that are participating in violent, racist, and hateful speech but rather, has been used more frequently against accounts aiming to elevate and counter these harms.

Digital Voter Suppression. The use of online services/platforms to distribute inaccurate, misinformation, disinformation, false data, mobile messages, and/or images for the purpose of suppressing the vote during any election season.This is often used in conjunction with or addition to physical voter suppression activities that have a digital, social networking, technical or mobile component.

Disinformation. Content that contains a malicious intent to harm others based on false information. 

Don’t Say Gay Laws. Educational gag orders and laws that deny and restrict gender identify, rights, and bodily autonomy that concurrently removes autonomy from all children. Rooted in the same techniques used to suppress Black thought and identity throughout U.S. history. 

False Amplification. The coordinated manipulation of social media accounts, shell organizations, and news sources that co-opt different identities in order to amplify and spread harmful, targeted and false information.

False Narrative. Fictionalized stories that capitalize on common tropes and strike chords at existing belief systems in individuals with the goal of evoking emotional responses that ultimately reinforce confirmation bias.

Free Speech. As per the Constitution, refers to the ability to freely criticize the government.

It reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Free speech refers to civil dialogue and the rational exchange of information and ideas that foster a culture where all individuals have the right to exist and fully engage and contribute without fear or threat of unwarranted abuse, harassment, or lies, and the core ideals of democracy are upheld.

Death threats, rape, disinformation, inciting imminent violence through online and offline campaigns and violation of privacy (e.g.,. doxing) are not forms of free speech nor are they protected by the Constitution.  

Inauthentic Behaviors. Social media accounts that falsely claim an identity but lack the cultural nuances that embody that identity.

Misinformation. The practice of intentionally spreading false information despite trying to tell or amplify the truth.

Parental Rights. Refers to adults who seek to reduce children’s autonomy to learn about their bodies in relation to personal experiences and the world around them.  Observed specifically through educational laws such as Don’t Say Gay and Critical Race Theory. This perspective supports the belief that parental rights unequivocally supersede those of children and their rights to privacy.

Racialized Disinformation. Content containing a malicious intent to harm Black, Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Indigenous people, and other communities of color. Two types of racialized disinformation exist: 1) disinformation that targets these communities (often derived from accounts that engage in inauthentic behaviors) and 2) disinformation about these communities (often derived from White Supremacists and propagandists).

Replacement Theory. A knee jerk response by white supremacists, nationalists, and the white power structure or white dominant class to changing demographics using a variety of retaliatory tactics including violence, voting suppression, segregation, reversal of affirmative action, obstructed education (in terms of learning and access),  lack of representation, and the inability to build generational wealth. In the United States, this response is targeted directly on Black Americans, with the ultimate goal to ‘reset the balance,’ reverse any minimal gains in parity, and ensure white dominance across social determinants of wealth and health.   

Truth Sandwich. A strategy for responding to disinformation. Before engaging, ensure that you 1) state the facts, 2) debunk the disinformation without amplifying it, 3)  state the facts again. See SOVAW Stop Digital Voter Suppression™ Project Toolkit: A primer on digital voter suppression™.