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Rural Health Information Hub

Use of Language in the Rural Health Equity Toolkit

Individuals, groups, communities, and populations may use a range of terms to refer to their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disability status, and other parts of their identity. The Using Inclusive, Non-Stigmatizing Language approach provides additional considerations about language use, including suggestions for using person-first language.

In this toolkit, we use the following terms to refer to racial and ethnic groups:

  • African American/Black people
  • American Indian/Alaska Native people or tribal communities (alternatives include indigenous people)
  • Hispanic/Latino (alternatives include Latinx)

Rural communities should be aware that some communities experiencing inequities have their own preferred terms. For example, some Hispanic and Latino persons may prefer to be referred to by their country of origin. The Native American Journalists Association emphasizes the importance of identifying people by their tribes or nations, instead of using a broader term like American Indian. Whenever possible, programs that aim to advance health equity should seek to understand how individuals and communities that experience inequities prefer to describe themselves.