We aren’t foreign to the fact that dictionaries make regular additions and revisions to their collection. Additions are easy to understand. The more people use a particular word, the more its chances of making its cut to the dictionary. But revisions more often find inspiration from present situations and further research. Such is the case with the word “racism.”
Most of us do not like the word because of its negative aura. It is an issue that the world has encountered for years now. But the word found a source for revision, all thanks to a young mind. Might we add that this revision took place not more than a day ago? Merriam Webster’s Dictionary heeded to a young Missouri woman’s plea. Kennedy Mitchum, a college graduate, wrote several e-mails to the editors of the dictionary to change the definition of the word “racism.”
Previous Definition of the word “Racism”
Previously, Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defined racism in three ways. Let us list them out for you before we move on to the revised version.
- “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” and “a political or social system founded on racism.”
- “Racial prejudice or discrimination.”
Why the change?
Kennedy Mitchum, a young woman in the US often found it difficult to have conversations with people about “race.” Her suggestion for the revision comes from the idea of giving people clarity about racism. She hoped that it would allow people to partake in path-breaking conversations about the same.
Mitchum declared how people around her did not give her opinion a fair listen. According to her, not everyone is now capable of looking at racism in the broadest of terms. Hence, her e-mails received a response, acknowledging her suggestion. Kenndy Mitchum requested the dictionary to give place to the idea of “systematic racism.”
The editors at Merriam Webster even apologized to the young student if they had hurt people’s sentiments. They mentioned how Noah Webster initiated the idea of this dictionary to include current vocabulary used by the people in the US. Merriam Webster wishes to acknowledge the same forever.
Here is the revised definition of the word, which includes the above suggestions.
“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.”
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