What is Merriam Webster changing the definition of racism to? – The Sun

MERRIAM Webster will change their definition of the word racism after a black college student claimed it was incorrect.

Drake University student Kennedy Mitchum convinced the dictionary's board of editors to update the definition of "racism" to include a reference to systemic oppression in an email sent on May 28.


After a short back-and-forth the following day, Merriam Webster said the "issue needed to be addressed sooner rather than later" and agreed to make the revision, according to the BBC.

The decision comes amid anti-racism protests spurred by the death of George Floyd.

Here's why the 173-year-old dictionary decided to change its definition of the term.

What was the original definition of racism on Merriam Webster?

Merriam Webster's current definition of 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."

Racism is further explained as: "a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles or a political or social system founded on racism."
"Racial prejudice or discrimination" is also included in the dictionary's definition.

What have they changed it to?

Editorial Manager Peter Sokolowski told the BBC on Wednsday that the new definition of racism "could be expanded to include the term systemic" and said "it will certainly have one or two example sentences, at least."
The people working on the new definition will consult black studies experts, according to Sokolowski, who added that the revision could be finished by August.

What is the difference between systemic racism and institutional racism?

Institutional racism refers to how ideas of white superiority are enforced in legal social systems like laws and regulations or unquestioned ones like schools and police forces, according to The Conversation.

Systemic racism assumes white superiority on the individual, ideological, and institutional levels, and this idea can consciously and subconsciously pervade peoples' thinking.

Although some people may not see themselves as racist, they benefit from systems that privilege white faces, a point reiterated by Black Lives Matter activists who have cited the shooting death of Breonna Taylor as proof.

In March, the 26-year-old medic was shot dead in her bed in her Kentucky home by police as they looked for a suspect they had "already arrested."




What is the Black Lives Matter movement?

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 as a response to the killing of black high school senior Trayvon Martin, who in 2012 was fatally gunned down in Florida by George Zimmerman.

The organization aims "to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes," according to its website.

The movement has recently gained momentum following the deaths of Floyd and black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed in February while jogging near his neighborhood in Georgia.

Arbery's white killers, father and son Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, weren't charged with murder until disturbing footage of his murder surfaced on social media three months later, prompting national outrage.

Three weeks after the Arbery footage surfaced, video of the brutal arrest that killed Floyd in Minneapolis went viral, inciting massive protests around the country in response to his death.

As the country embraces for a third straight week of protests, here's how you can support Black Lives Matter or sign a petition to support the movement.




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