You Don't Have to Say It
The fact of the matter is, you can speak generally about your mistreatment and/or any unequal treatment and still be considered to have protested or opposed discrimination at work.
Anti-retaliation provisions make it unlawful to discriminate against an individual because s/he has opposed any practice made unlawful under the employment discrimination statutes.
This protection applies if an individual explicitly or implicitly communicates to his or her employer or other covered entity a belief that its activity constitutes a form of employment discrimination that is covered by any of the statutes enforced by the EEOC.
Because individuals often may not know the specific requirements of the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC, they may make broad or ambiguous complaints of unfair treatment.
Such a protest is protected opposition if the complaint would reasonably have been interpreted as opposition to employment discrimination.
The point is, your employer can't use the excuse that you never complained of "discrimination" (or even "harassment" or "retaliation") simply because you never used those specific words. Your employer, HR staff, and members of management have knowledge of federal statutes and should know potential violations of law, when they hear them!
Don't let your employer off the hook because you may have failed to use a red flag word! Your employer must work harder to try to work its way out of race-based problems in the workplace.