*Merriam-Webster’s definition of racism has been updated, thanks to a 22-year-old black woman from Florissant, Mo.
Following an email exchange with editors, Kennedy Mitchum – a recent graduate of Drake University in Iowa with a degree in law, politics and society – got the dictionary to expand its “racism” definition to address its institutional aspects. She wrote in her email exchange with editor Alex Chambers, “Racism is not only prejudice against a certain race due to the color of a person’s skin, as it states in your dictionary. It is both prejudice combined with social and institutional power. It is a system of advantage based on skin color.”
It took just one day for Merriam Webster to respond. It’s old definition described racism as “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.” The revised definition includes the following two additions: “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.”
Mitchum told the BBC that she was motivated to send the email after having too many arguments with defensive white people who used the older definition to exclude themselves.
Watch a news report of Mitchum’s story below: