Note: I will be adding definitions and links regularly.  These definitions not dictionary definitions.  You are able to look up those definitions on your own. The definitions below were created to provide the accurate meaning while being understood within the context of Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility.”  The objective is to allow the reader to get the ‘gist’ of the meaning without being exhaustive.


A socioeconomic theory developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the mid-nineteenth century. Essentially, the problem with the world was economic inequality. The rich, ruling classes (bourgeoisie) oppressed the poor working classes (proletariat). In order to achieve their utopian vision of economic equality the working classes must start a revolution against the upper classes. This revolution will result in a utopian society of economic equality where everyone shares their goods and everyone has their basic needs met (equal outcomes).


A term used for those who have applied Marxist socioeconomic principles to other cultural conflicts based on various inequalities. These inequalities include gender inequality, sexual inequality, race inequalities, and many others. The way to achieve true equality in these areas is the same way Marx sought economic equality – through creating conflict (revolution) between those with power and those without. This is a term referring to a group of Marxists who have sought to apply Critical Theory.


A method used in a variety of cultural studies that is not interested in simply understanding the how and why of current reality, but instead seeks to impose a moral vision of society. The goal of critical theory is to identify systemic problems (through critique) in society and to change it. In other words, for critical theorists the point of studying society is NOT to understand the truth, but to identify systemic problems and dismantle them. These problems arise from power structures that oppress. Max Horkheimer coined the term wanted to distinguish critical theory as a radical, emancipatory form of Marxian theory.

Critical Theory makes two primary claims:
1. Everyone is divided into two groups – those who have power and those who don’t. 2. The who have power always oppresses those who don’t (oppressed).
• A person’s group identity determines which category they belong (oppressor or oppressed).
• A person’s group identity is determined by gender, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, etc. When a person’s group identities overlap, this is referred to as intersectionality.


Seeks to measure the level of someone’s oppression based on how many marginalized groups that individual identifies with. In other words, how many marginalized groups intersect in that one individual. These different groups include gender, race, ethnicity, economic status, and religion (e.g., a black, female, Muslim living in the U.S. would identify with three different marginalized, oppressed groups in our society). This way of looking at identity has led to a fragmentation of our society, and, in some cases, a competition for victimhood status. Moral Authority is determined by the number of oppressed groups one identifies with.


“the practice of dismantling a system marked by white supremacy and anti-black racism through deliberate action.” (Stay Woke, p. 53). It is not enough for an individual to not be racist. For that individual to truly be antiracist they must actively work to dismantle the structural racism that has permeated every aspect of American society.


“White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.” (DiAngelo, 2018, p. 30)

New Discourses website is developing an extensive dictionary / glossary of terms used by adherents of Critical Theory, etc. click here…


Note: the Critcial Theory (Cultural Marxism) worldiew redefines the meanings of words and phrases.  In order to understand what people who hold to this worldview mean, we must ask the question, “what do you mean by that?”  Below is a short list words and phrases – their traditional defnition vs. new definition (according to Critcal Theory – Critical Race Theory / Intersectionality CRTI).

Racism (Traditional Definition)

Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to physical appearance and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity.

Racism (CRTI Definition)

Racism is what happens when you back one group’s racial bias with legal authority and institutional control… When you back one group’s collective bias with that kind of power, it is transformed into a far-reaching system. It becomes the default. It’s automatic. Racism is the foundation of the society we are in. And to simply carry on with absolutely no active interruption of that system is to be complicit with it. (DiAngelo, ‘There Is No Neutral’: ‘Nice White People’ Can Still Be Complicit In A Racist Society (2020) NPR)

White Supremacy (Traditional Definition)

People who believe that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races.  The belief that white people constitute a superior race and should therefore dominate society, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other racial and ethnic groups, in particular black or Jewish people.

White Supremacy (CRTI Definition)

“white supremacy is a descriptive and useful term to capture the all-encompassing centrality and assumed superiority of people defined and perceived as white and the practices based on this assumption. White supremacy in this context does not refer to individual white people and their individual intentions or actions but to an overarching political, economic, and social system of domination.” (DiAngelo 2018, p. 69) [White supremacy] is the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today” (Charles W. Mills, The Racial Contract (1997), p. 122)

Justice (Traditional Definition)
Justice (CRTI Definition)