The tragic death of George Floyd reignited conversations around racism all around the world. And in another step forward, US dictionary Merriam-Webster has altered the definition of racism. And this was brought forth by a 22-year-old.
According to a report in CNN, last month Kennedy Mitchum had emailed Merriam-Webster to inform them that their definition of racism, “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,” was not all-encompassing.
However, what happened next took her by surprise — a reply by an editor and their agreement to modify the entry. The resident of Florissant, Missouri, which has been engulfed by protests, 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 Americans.”
The second definition will be more accommodating, intending to expand on the limitations in the first case. In an email to The Associated Press, editor Peter Sokolowski stated that the new definition will be “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.”
The change will be reflected better in their next release. “I was super happy because I really felt like that was a step in a good direction for a lot of positive change for a lot of different positive conversations that can really help change the world and helps change how people view things,” Mitchum was quoted as saying to the CNN.
(With inputs from AP)