Florissant woman draws international headlines for getting Merriam-Webster to update definition of ‘racism’

Missouri

FLORISSANT, Mo. – A Florissant woman is making international news after successfully petitioning Merriam-Webster to update its definition for the word “racism” in the dictionary.

“I don’t feel like a star. I just feel like I spoke about what a lot of people of color understood,” said Kennedy Mitchum, a Nerinx Hall grad. “So I was glad it was being heard and understood.”

Mitchum recently graduated from Drake University with a bachelor’s degree in law, politics, and society. She felt compelled to show people what she has lived with and seen her entire life.

She’s been the subject of television, radio, and print interviews around the world, discussing her pursuit for change. And while she doesn’t know for sure what the new definition will look like, Mitchum said it will include mention of systemic oppression.

Here is the definition as it presently appears in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1: 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

2 a: a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles
b: a political or social system founded on racism

3: racial prejudice or discrimination

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

Mitchum said she’s receiving calls about her future. And while she jokes about someday running for president, Mitchum wants one thing.

“I just want people to look at the change, learn, educate themselves, so we can come together; that’s what important,” she said.

For the time being, Mitchum said she’s putting her effort toward making sure all dictionaries amend their definition of “racism” like Merriam-Webster.

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