Your Dictionary Definition of Racism Is Outdated Trash
Originally posted on www.onlyblackgirl.com, by Rebekah Hutson
It’s 15 minutes into an intense reverse racism Facebook argument. You’re arguing back and forth with pesky negros who keep blabbering on and on about how reverse racism doesn’t exist. But you know that is a lie, because you were called an expired jar of mayo just last week. You’re all out of examples and insults, the blacks are winning, becoming a little too triumphant. Little do they know that you have one last fact up your sleeve. One last fact to rule them all. It’s 5 seconds left in the 4th quarter, you hit em with all you have left.
“Well the DICTIONARY says racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
GOT EM! You do the Cotton-Eyed Joe to celebrate. You’ve won Facebook, how can anyone argue with the dictionary?
Me. I can.
I, along with any other person who uses basic logic can argue agaisnt dictionary definitions. I have come to shatter all of your reverse racism wet dreams.
So here’s the thing, the dictionary is not the law of the land. It’s a dictionary. It’s a book, it’s a pocket guide. It’s not the pirate code written in blood, it wasn’t written by god. It’s not the 10 commandments, nobody had to make human sacrifices for it. It’s a reference guide of words. It was written by a bunch of white people to lay out general definitions of old white words. The dictionary is not written to apply to social context or even to modern speech. There is no book big enough to accommodate every word and all of it’s different meanings and contexts. In fact, if you bothered to use the free resource that goes by the name of Google, you could look up “How our dictionaries are created” and you would discover the dictionaries themselves admit that words are forever changing and dictionaries are only a snapshot or popular meaning.
From Oxford Dictionary themselves:
“Our dictionary programmes constantly monitor the use of language so that our experts can identify and record the changes taking place. The result is dictionaries which give a window on to how language is used today.”
The term and idea of racism was invented by white people in the 17th century in order to differentiate themselves from all the pesky brown folks So of course the “I think I’m better than you” definition would fit this situation. However, after hundreds of years of white supremacy, things have shifted to far worse than just thinking you’re better than someone else based on skin color. I would declare racism dead, right now in 2017 if racism was just “someone thinking their better based on skin color”. Because who cares? We all know that’s false, but due to white supremacy shenanigans, shit was made much worse and complicated. Thus why that simplified definition does not work anymore.
I’m not sure if you skipped grade school, but I sure didn’t, and one of the first things I learn in any type of English class is that words can have multiple meanings and context exists. Dictionaries are opinions, they are based on popularity. There is no judge and jury who gets together to discuss and determine what a word means and that is what is put down in the dictionary. It’s a book of popular opinion, and when white people are the ones writing the dictionary, of the course the popular opinion of racism is going to be “someone being mean to me”. Just look at the fact that the dictionary only accommodates western English. There is no AAVE, which is an actual recognized language in linguistics, there’s not even regional language in there, because it’s not “proper” or “white”…even though Western English itself isn’t “proper English”. But we don’t have time to discuss that tea.
You would know what that term meant if anything but whiteness was included in the dictionary.
MORE TEA PLEASE!
Anyways, there is no “right and wrong” definition of a word. That dictionary definition isn’t necessarily wrong, but it simply does not apply or represent what racism means in the 21st century. If you want to read more on how the dictionary is bias trash, check out this fancily drawn cartoon. I want to focus more on how context is a thing that exists.
Context matters when we are talking about social issues. Words have social meanings that may differ than the commonly known or understood meaning. You can’t tell me “to twist”, doesn’t mean the dance you do twisting your upper and lower body in opposite directions simultaneously, just because the dictionary says it means “cause to rotate around something that remains stationary”. Or that “mad” doesn’t also mean something extreme or exaggerated, (like your mad whack logic), just because the dictionary says”enraged; greatly provoked or irritated; angry”. Yeah, those are basic meanings of the word at face value, but guess what words have more than one meaning and when you add context, the meanings change. Just because YOU don’t get it, doesn’t mean everyone else on the east coast doesn’t commonly understand the different definitions of the word “mad”. The same logic applies with the term racism.
When we are talking about racism, today in 2017, the old blanket definition based on common understanding, just does not suffice. Yes, that is still the foundation and underlying ideology of racism, but we are well past the foundation, the house in built. You need to update your definitions of words to modern times fam. In addition, we are talking about a social problem, something that has social context. So when we apply words to social issues, or any other context outside of basic speech, meanings change. Just like how the word “gay” changes when put into social context. The dictionary says gay is “lighthearted and carefree”, are you going to tell me, it is incorrect that “gay” also refers to someone who is homosexual? Shit changes, things are not black and white. In fact many dictionary HAVE had to update entries under words like “gay” to include these new social meanings, because it is now a widely known definition and understanding of the word. Look in a 50-year old dictionary and tell me if you see this definition of gay included. There’s a reason updated version of dictionaries are released all the time. When we are talking about race and racism as a social construct, we are talking about a highly complex, multi-layered issue that cannot just be summed up with “thinking your race superior”. Which is where the argument of “reverse racism” falls flat, and the far more commonly understood definition of racism being race + power comes from.
White supremacy has been at work for a long time. Long enough to create systems of injustice. We see it every single day, if you need still needs examples of this in 2017, google is free. White supremacist systems have been implemented that hold themselves above everyone else. So much so, that the basic mindset of white people being better than everyone else, simply doesn’t matter anymore. It’s already built into the system. Personal beliefs don’t really matter when the system is built on racial bias.
You could be the most anti-racism white person on the planet, and still make zero difference, because the system is already setup to make sure white people stay ahead and superior. This is why the anti-racism movement is rooted in restructuring the system and not just “-lets just kill all the racist white people”. Lucky you, that doesn’t solve anything if the whole system is fucked up, and POCs aren’t as hateful as white folks have been. When we are addressing this idea of race + power, we are referring to the fact that, in order to be racist you have to have the power to have a systematic effect. I can call you a expired jar of mayo, but will that stop you from getting every job before a person of color? Nope. Will that end the wage gap? Will you get kicked out of school for you natural hair? Will you now be stopped and frisked at random? Will you need “random” security checks at the airport? Will you be assaulted, knocked out, and have your limp body dragged off an United airlines flight? Will you be shot by a cop for existing? Nope, nope nope and nope. The answer is no. You will get your feelings hurt and then you will go on to live a white privileged life. It doesn’t work the other way around for the rest of us. Hence why “reverse racism” and the dictionary is a load of shit.
Even if every person of color really did HATE white people, and I mean really hate them…like want them all dead type of hate, we still wouldn’t have the power to make that happen. Obama, as president didn’t even have the power to be racist. Do you think the house and senate would have allowed black ass O’breezy to pass any bill that said “deport all white people back to Europe”? No, that would never happen because white people still have the majority power in this country. Meanwhile y’alls favorite circus peanut, passed it for brown folks, within two weeks of being in office. If the a black president of these so called, united states couldn’t do it (if he wanted to), what makes you think the random POCs in the hallway at school is going to have any impact on your life’s trajectory?
Now, POCs can be prejudice and discriminatory, towards white people and each other, however those things are not the same as racism. Prejudice and discrimination are more of an individual ideology, an opinion that isn’t based on any actual facts. By itself, it isn’t systematic. When you start applying that prejudice into a larger vessel like the american government, then it becomes racism. So those extremist that do want to kill all white people, would be considered pretty damn prejudice and discriminatory against white people. But again, even they do not possess the power to actually make that happen. Are you getting the gist here? Great.
So, to recap this long ass post, the dictionary is outdated and based on white male opinions. Words have multiple meanings and change with time and context. So you can get off your dictionary high horse. Also “reverse racism” isn’t a thing as you are not being effect outside of your own hurt feelings. You did not win your Facebook argument. You need to log off and take this L with you.
It’s 2017 folks, get with the times, update your definitions accordingly, and throw your beloved dictionary into the nearest recycling bin.
Thank you and I’m out.