The Use of Inclusive Language at IMCW

The dharma teaches a profound wisdom that there is no lasting, permanent self. At the same time, society often reads and reacts to us by our identity markers, and oppression is a reality for many people. Additionally, the ways we identify can also be meaningful for self-understanding and forming connections with others.

The following are terms that we use at IMCW. They have been chosen by the communities they represent:

Ableism – involves the conscious or unconscious assumption that the lack of a dis/ability is the norm, fostering a system based on that norm.  The effect is to create a system that favors non-disability and adds barriers to participation for those with dis/abilities.  For people with non-apparent dis/abilities, ableism can be especially harmful because, in the absence of a visible dis/ability, it is often assumed that the individual needs of the group have been met without further inquiry.

Anti-racism – is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.“ —(NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity, as cited in Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, n.d.-a)

BIPOC – Black, Indigeneous, and People of Color

Deaf People – Deafness is often viewed as a cultural difference rooted in the use of a non-dominant language.  Deaf people are named separately from dis/ability to acknowledge the movement toward rejecting Deafness as a disability.  Deafness is also often viewed as an intrinsic part of a person’s identity.  Honoring this movement, the IMCW community has chosen to use identity-first language and capitalize the D in Deaf.

Gender pronouns — People are invited to share their gender pronouns so that we may refer to them respectfully and appropriately in the third-person. This also checks our assumptions of gender based on what we perceive about a person.

Compassion — is a feeling of caring that arises when faced with another person’s suffering. An individual recognizes and is moved to respond in ways that ease the other person’s suffering, discomfort, or difficulties.

Decolonized mindfulness — consists of practices and teachings to overcome colonized western beliefs and values that support the change of the individual to fit society rather than transformation of the system to support all individuals.

Dis/ability — is a term used intentionally to counter the emphasis on having a whole person be represented by what they cannot do, rather than what they can do.

Embodied presence — means staying connected with one’s whole self: body, mind, awareness, and felt experience from moment to moment.

Empathy — is the experience of understanding another’s experience, feelings, or thoughts from one’s own point of view.

Implicit bias — “refers to attitudes or stereotypes that subconsciously affect our understanding and behaviors.” (Garcia et al., 2016)

LGBTQIA+ — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning or Queer, Intersex, Asexual +

Meditation — is a variety of contemplative practice techniques that work with the mind.

Microaggressions — are typically unintended negative words and actions expressed briefly toward people who appear to belong to a particular group (e.g., age, race, ability; Kok et al., 2015)

Mindfulness — is the quality of awareness that arises through paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).

People with Dis/abilities — the IMCW community chose to use person-first language in an effort to avoid marginalization when discussing people with a dis/ability. Person first language is an approach that places the person before a diagnosis, describing what a person has rather than what a person is. This group includes anyone self-identified as having a dis/ability, illness, or injury that affects their involvement with and interactions to their surroundings. These individuals may have different preferences for how they want to be identified, so it is always good practice to ask.

Racial oppression and racial privilege — “Like two sides of the same coin, racial privilege describes race-based advantages and preferential treatment based on skin color, while racial oppression refers to race-based disadvantages, discrimination and exploitation based on skin color.” (Annie E. Casey Foundation, n.d.)

Self-compassion — is noticing when one is experiencing feelings of stress or discomfort and treating oneself with care and kindness and acknowledging one is not alone in those feelings of stress or discomfort.

White privilege — “The unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed upon people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it. Examples of privilege might be: “I can walk around a department store without being followed”; “I can come to a meeting late and not have my lateness attributed to my race”; “I can turn on the television or look to the front page and see people of my ethnic and racial background represented” (McIntosh, cited in Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, n.d.-b).


Resources for Understanding Inclusive Language


Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Mindfulness and Systemic Racism

What is Neurodiversity?

Defunding Mindfulness: While We Sit on Our Cushions, Systemic Racism Runs Rampant

More resources can be found on IMCW’s Diversity and Belonging webpage.


We are grateful for your dana (generosity)

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