An email from a Missouri woman has prompted Merriam-Webster to update its definition of “racism” to include the systemic aspects that have contributed to discrimination, according to a report.
Kennedy Mitchum, 22, of Florissant, told KMOV-TV that she was inspired to email the dictionary publisher after getting into arguments with others about the definition.
Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Mitchum, a recent graduate of Drake University, felt the definition was too simple and too surface-level, according to the news station.
“So, a couple [sic] weeks ago, I said this is the last argument I’m going to have about this,” she said. “I know what racism is, I’ve experienced it time and time and time again in a lot of different ways, so enough is enough. So, I emailed them about how I felt about it. Saying this needs to change.”
“I basically told them they need to include that there is systematic oppression on people. It’s not just ‘I don’t like someone,’ it’s a system of oppression for a certain group of people,” she added.
The change comes as the United States is grappling with nationwide protests over racial discrimination following the death of George Floyd.
Whereas the original definition of racism is a person’s individual belief in the superiority of one race over another, the second definition will be expanded to include the types of bias that have contributed to racial discrimination, said Peter Sokolowski, the editor-at-large at Merriam-Webster, in a statement to Fox News.
“Our second definition is divided to express, first, explicit institutional bias against people because of their race, and, second, a broader implicit bias that can also result in an asymmetrical power structure,” he said.
“This second definition covers the sense that Ms. Mitchum was seeking, and we will make that even more clear in our next release,” he added. “This is the kind of continuous revision that is part of the work of keeping the dictionary up to date, based on rigorous criteria and research we employ in order to describe the language as it is actually used. ”
Author: Louis Casiano