Written bySiddhant Pandey
As conversations around racism against the Black community have grown after the death of George Floyd in the United States, the Merriam-Webster dictionary has agreed to change the definition of 'racism'.
Merriam-Webster will change the entry at the suggestion of a young black woman from Missouri, Kennedy Mitchum, who said people often refer to the American dictionary to claim they are not racist.
According to CNN, Mitchum had emailed Merriam-Webster last month regarding its entry on 'racism', but was not expecting a response.
Mitchum said she wanted to tell the dictionary that its definition was inadequate.
"The way that racism occurs in real life is not just prejudice," she told the publication, "it's the systemic racism that is happening for a lot of Black Americans."
Merriam-Webster's first definition of racism states, "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 said people would dismiss her concerns about racism and disregard broader issues on racial inequality because they do not associate themselves with the definition of racism.
She said, "I kept having to tell them that definition is not representative of what is actually happening in the world."
Hence, she felt it was important to write to Merriam-Webster about the issue.
To Mitchum's surprise, she received a response from editor Alex Chambers the next morning.
After a few exchanges, Chambers acknowledged the need to update their entry.
"This revision would not have been made without your persistence in contacting us about this problem," Chambers wrote in an email, thanking Mitchum and apologizing for the harm caused in failing to address the issue sooner.
Other entries also define 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."
Peter Sokolowski, an editor at large at Merriam-Webster, told CNN that their other entries on 'racism' cover systemic racism and oppression, however, the dictionary will update it to "express this more clearly."
Mitchum reacted saying, "I was super happy because I really felt like that was a step in a good direction for a lot of positive change and different positive conversations that can really help change the world and help change how people view things."
Love World news?
Subscribe to stay updated.