Definition Of Racism To Be Revised In The U.S. Dictionary

Definition Of Racism To Be Revised In The U.S. Dictionary

US dictionary Merriam-Webster is revising its definition of racism after a woman pointed out that the entry fails to address the "systemic oppression upon a group of people."

Kennedy Mitchum, a woman in the state of Missouri, said she realized the dictionary entry came up short after people would argue with her about the definition of racism and send her screenshots of the Merriam-Webster entry, KMOV-TV reported.

"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,'' she told the local TV station.

Mitchum, who recently graduated with a degree in law, politics and society, emailed Merriam-Webster to propose changing the definition.

"It's not just disliking someone because of their race,'' Mitchum wrote in a Facebook post. "This current fight we are in is evidence of that, lives are at stake because of the systems of oppression that go hand-in-hand with racism."

Merriam-Webster confirmed in a statement to several news agencies that the definition is being changed following Mitchum's request.

The dictionary's editorial manager Peter Sokolowski said that it currently has three definitions of racism. The second definition party addresses Mitchum's point, but he noted "we will make that even more clear in our next release."

The current version of the second definition defines racism as: "a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles," and "a political or social system founded on racism."

"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," Sokolowski said.

The dictionary changes come amid the backdrop of anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests in the United States that have since spread around the world. The protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.