A young African-American woman’s complaint about the definition of the term racism would instigate change as the publisher of Merriam-Webster, an American dictionary has revealed that they would be making changes to their definition of the term.
CNN reports that the 22-year-old woman, Kennedy Mitchum, emailed the publishers of the dictionary since 1847, to make changes to their definition of the term.
According to the dictionary’s first definition, racism is “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.”
But Mitchum, a recent graduate of Drake University in Iowa, had in the email told Merriam-Webster to update the definition to include a reference to “systematic oppression”.
“I kept having to tell them that definition is not representative of what is actually happening in the world,” she told the news outlet.
“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 young American Lady got a reply the next morning from an editor of the dictionary, Alex Chambers, who assured that her recommendation would be taken into consideration.
“This revision would not have been made without your persistence in contacting us about this problem,” Chambers was quoted as saying in the email.
“We sincerely thank you for repeatedly writing in and apologize for the harm and offense we have caused in failing to address this issue sooner.”
Peter Sokolowski, an editor at large at Merriam-Webster, in his explanation of Mitchum’s suggestion, stated that her recommendation is reflected in its other definitions of racism such as “a political or social system founded on racism.”
“I think we can express this more clearly to bring the idea of an asymmetrical power structure into the language of this definition, but it’s there,” he said.
He assured, however, that the changes would be effected on the next edition of the dictionary. slated to be out in the next two to three years.