Culture 

Merriam-Webster Updates Its Definition of "Racism"

Pledging to “give the entry for racism the attention it sorely needs.”

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Merriam-Webster Updates Its Definition of "Racism"

Pledging to “give the entry for racism the attention it sorely needs.”

Following work by college graduate Kennedy Mitchum, Merriam-Webster is updating its definition for the word “Racism.” In a time when racial inequality and injustice is a big topic of discussion, with Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the U.S. as well as the world, this comes as a small win for the Black community. “I kept having to tell them [Merriam-Webster] that definition is not representative of what is actually happening in the world. 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,” Mitchum told CNN.

After having exchanged a handful of emails between the two, Mitchum adds “I basically told them they need to include that there is systematic oppression on people. It’s not just ‘I don’t like someone,’ it’s a system of oppression for a certain group of people,” to which the Merriam-Webster team replied and agreed, stating that they would make the definition for the word “Racism” more clear.

In the last response from Merriam-Webster, the company noted that the update would not have happened without Mitchum’s dedication, and apologized for not addressing the issue sooner. Editor Alex Chambers ended the email with a pledge to “give the entry for racism the attention it sorely needs.”

Merriam-Webster is currently reviewing the definition, which will be re-added to the dictionary within the coming days. Read the full response here.

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