Putting it right

    Von Tenley van den Berg

    An e-mail from a 22-year-old black woman, Kennedy Mitchum, has to prompt sb./sth. to do sth.jmdn./etw. veranlassen, etw. zu tunprompted the American dictionary Merriam-Webster to update its definition of the term “racism”. In her e-mail, sent in May, Mitchum wrote that racism is “prejudiceVorurteil(e)prejudice combined with social and institutional power. It is a system of advantage based on skin color.” The dictionary’s current entry does not mention systemic oppressionUnterdrückungoppression.

    Mitchum told BBC News that someone had challenged one of her social media posts on ra­cism by copying and to paste sth.etw. einfügenpasting Merriam-Webster’s explanation of the word into their message. “Some trollTroll, Provokateur(in) in Onlinemedien * This symbol marks standard US pronunciation.troll was to message sb.jmdm. eine Nachricht sendenmessaging me trying to say, ‘You don’t understand what racism truly is.’”

    Mitchum’s e-mail got a response the following day. Merriam-Webster said the “issue needed to be addressed sooner rather than later” and agreed to change the definition. Merriam-Webster’s editorial managerRedaktionsleiter(in)editorial manager, Peter Sokolowski, said that experts in black studies would be consulted and that the entry “could be expanded ... to include the term systemic, and it will certainly have one or two example sentences, at least.” The new definition should give people like Mitchum somewhere to send their detractorKritiker(in), Gegner(in)detractors.

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