Missouri woman gets Marriam Webster to edit racism definition


ST. LOUIS, MO (CNN) – As hundreds of thousands march for justice across the country and in St. Louis, one recent college grad is using her voice in a different way to change the way people look at racism, by changing the very definition of it.

“With everything going on, I think it’s really important that everyone is on the same page,” Kennedy Mitchum said.

The same page of the dictionary that is. Mitchum, a recent college graduate studying law politics and society said the issue stemmed after people would quote the verbatim definition of racism.

“A couple of weeks ago, I was like, okay, this is the last argument I’m going to have about this,” Mitchum said. “Like, I know what racism is, I’ve experienced it. So, I emailed them.”

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, 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.”

“I basically told them that they need to include that there’s a systematic oppression upon a group of people,” Mitchum said. “It’s not just, ‘oh, I don’t like someone.’”

After back and forth emails. The editor of Marian Webster agreed, saying a revision to the entry of racism is now being drafted.

“The reason, the definition of racism in the dictionary isn’t adequate is because it suggests that racism is just a passive kind of concept,” Dr. Charlene jones said.  “Whereas racism, in actuality, is a passive belief, but it also causes horrendous actions toward people who don’t look like you.”

Dr. Charlene jones teaches political science at Harris Stowe State University. She said from her students to people like Mitchum, the young generation will make this movement different.

“I think everyone really needs to realize what their strengths are and how they can contribute to the movement.,” Mitchum said. “Once they do that, I think we’re really going to be able to get some places.”

Merriam Webster did not say when the new dictionary with the new definition will be released, but they say that a revision should be expected in the coming months.

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