The American dictionary Merriam-Webster is set to change its definition of the word racism after receiving an email from Kennedy Mitchum.
Mitchum, a recent graduate of Drake University in Iowa, suggested that the definition should include a reference to systemic oppression.
Merriam-Webster’s current definition of racism reads:
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.”
a: doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles
b: a political or social system founded on racism
racial prejudice or discrimination.
Mitchum told CNN: “I kept having to tell them that definition is not representative of what is actually happening in the world. The way that racism occurs in real life is not just prejudice, it’s the systemic racism that is happening for a lot of black American.”
Merriam-Webster editor Alex Chambers responded to Mitchum and agreed to change its definition.
Chambers said: “While our focus will always be on faithfully reflecting the real-world usage of a word, not on promoting any particular viewpoint, we have concluded that omitting any mention of the systemic aspects of racism promotes a certain viewpoint in itself.”