Kennedy Mitchum told the dictionary that the current definition of the word was inadequate.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary on Wednesday said that it will change its definition of the word racism after a woman suggested that it should reflect the oppression of people of colour in a better way, AFP reported.
Kennedy Mitchum, a university graduate from Iowa in the United States, approached Merriam-Webster with her proposal last month, according to CNN. “I kept having to tell them that definition is not representative of what is actually happening in the world,” she told the news channel. “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.”
Merriam-Webster’s Editorial Manager Peter Sokolowski told AFP that the dictionary’s definition of racism will be changed on Mitchum’s suggestion.
Sokolowski added that the dictionary currently offers three definitions of racism. He said that the second definition offered by Merriam-Webster was close to Mitchum’s point, but the dictionary will make it even more clear in the next release.
According to the present version of the second definition, racism is “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.”
“This is the kind of continuous revision that is part of the work of keeping the dictionary up to date, based on rigorous criteria and research we employ in order to describe the language as it is actually used,” Sokolowski was quoted as saying by the news agency.
In a message to Mitchum tweeted by her university, another Merriam-Webster editor apologised for not addressing the matter earlier and assured her that that the definition of words related to racism will also be updated.
The debate about systemic racism in the US has been reignited with the killing of George Floyd. On May 25, four police officials detained Floyd after he had allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a store in Minnesota. Protests grew after a widely shared video showed a white former police officer kneeling for almost nine minutes on Floyd’s neck. Floyd was seen gasping for breath, pleading with the officials saying, “I can’t breathe”. He died on the spot. An autopsy found that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression. The outrage and protests over his death have spread to several other countries. (https://scroll.in)