Dear White People, Your “Dictionary Definition” of Racism is Wrong

Racism as an ideology originated from European scientists in the 17th Century during the Atlantic slave trade. They invented it in order to differentiate themselves from those with different skin colors and darker features, creating a racial hierarchy that continues to this day. It would simply be incorrect to deny that the history of racism has been (and continues to be) one of white supremacy as the label “white” has always been an indication of superiority.

However, many of us were taught when we were little that racism is simply disliking someone based on the color of their skin. We were taught that it is a two-way street and that it can happen to anyone. We were taught that racism is simply prejudice toward any race.

This is clearly evident in the defense tactic many people use when defending racism.

As someone with a large online social justice platform, a day does not go by without someone sending me a screenshot of the “definition of racism”, followed up with a paragraph about how I am the real racist for critiquing white supremacy.

For many white people, the “definition of racism” offers them a safeguard so that they no longer feel the need to check their privilege. It acts as a last resort when backed into a corner by logic and reason. It is their final safety measure to ensure that they still win the conversation, even though this is not the type of conversation to be won.

It is for those white people that I have listed below some of the many reasons why the “definition of racism” is wrong.

Dictionaries provide a simplistic view of words.

While dictionaries are a great reference for people who have no prior knowledge on a word, concept or idea, they are not the best for conducting and controlling discussion. Racism is such a complex idea that it would be impossible to describe every aspect of it in a basic 101 way. Dictionaries should instead be used as a starting point for learning, leading to more thorough research and investigation, rather than being a final and definitive argument as to why white people can experience racism.

Dictionaries are written and edited by white men.

The majority of writers for popular and academic dictionaries have been white men. In the western world, as there are systems in place which privilege white people, it is not surprizing to see that the definition of racism put forward by white men is inaccurate. They are socialized to believe that the racism people of color experience is in any way comparable to the “racism” white people experience (i.e. being called out for perpetrating and upholding white supremacy). There is simply no credibility in white people defining racism.

Racism is systemic.

If we look at the word, ‘racism’, we see that it is made up of ‘race’ and the suffix ‘-ism’. This suffix is used to denote a system which, at least in the western world, is a system of white supremacy.

This clearly differentiates racism from prejudice. Anyone can be prejudiced toward anyone else, regardless of their race. People of color can certainly be prejudiced toward white people. However it is not racism because there is no larger system in place which oppresses white people.

These are just some of the reasons why the “dictionary definition of racism” is invalid. If you or someone you know ever feels the need to screenshot the “definition of racism” and use it in an argument, just remember that the definition of ketchup says that it is spicy.



  1. Maybe just don’t be a trash person to somebody because of how they were born, dictionaries or not. Because whether or not the historical revisionism classifies you as “capable”, you doing it is a wrong thing to do, making you a crappy person overall – particularly when you justify your behaviour with articles like this.

  2. so a “System” that is inherently racist, voted for a black man. Twice. No one was defending racism, it was being pointing out your racism. You were saying whites were crazy, whites were worthless, whites need to shut up. No one said any thing about race, you were the ones attacking people simply for the color of their skin, and now you doubled down. Treating people poorly because of the color of their skin is racism. There are no larger systems or laws that are keeping you down either, that is a lie.

  3. 1. Racism predates European imperialism as Arab civilizations well before the european colonial period used race as the basis for enslaving africans
    2.Most of us were taught racism is prejeduce or discrimination based on race, and using that definition doesn’t invalidate or justify the implications of racism in a systematic context. Putting prejudice against white people and prejudice against black people under the same umbrella does not indicate that the extent of racism or the challenges it brings are the same.
    3.Even if we grind to your premise whites are massivley privileged in the western world and are influencing language (1.Why would these racists use the suffix ism which denotes a system and 2? Why would they include discrimination and not just prejudice in the definition?)
    4.The suffix ism can be used to describe a belief or set of beliefs as your link demonstrates, so it seems you didn’t read through that one.

  4. So just because I’m white, gives someone of a different race the right to be rude towards me. I’m not racist towards POC, so why can they be rude to me, and not have it be called racism.
    I see where you are coming from, but I think that POC can be racist towards white people, and vice versa.
    In South Africa, some white people find it difficult to get jobs, because the black people are in power and are racist towards the white people.
    Your definition of racism simply allows POC to be racist towards white people, and they can get away with it.

  5. “Dictionaries provide a simplistic view of words.”
    Yes that is their entire point, thank you captain obvious. I guess we can call this “teensplaining”.

    “Dictionaries are written and edited by white men.”
    Irrelevant, citation needed, and in itself a somewhat racist observation.

    “Racism is systemic.”
    Incorrect. What you’re describing is ‘systemic racism’, it’s an application of racism that wouldn’t exist without the base of racism to begin with. Whoever taught you this has lied to you. If your parents paid money for that education I’d tell them to demand their money back.

    “wishes to pursue some combination of music composition, writing, acting and activism in terms of his career.”

    Anyone who does activism as a career is a terrible person. That’s something you do because you believe in it, not because it’ll make you money.

  6. English people have traditionally been white, so it’s not surprising that white people wrote the dictionary. If the fact that white English people(or other English-speaking white people) wrote English dictionaries is a problem for you it is you that is the racist and you’re just trying to redefine the word to justify your own racism. Stop mindlessly repeating SJW propaganda and learn some critical thinking. Racism has been widely condemned by society and it is no longer socially acceptable to be racist, except people like you are trying to morally justify it because some people were racist in the past and that can only be rectified by being racist towards white people in the present, most of whom are not racist. Two wrongs do not make a right.

  7. This has to be one of the most laughably racist articles I’ve read in a while. Your argument is hardly compelling as it’s just a rant against white privilege and what appears to be a personal desire to redefine both “racism” and “-ism”.

  8. As a gay, dark skinned Hispanic/Native American, reading crap like this is why I am not nor could ever be a SWJ. In the East, the term for foreigner was the same word for barbarians, basically anyone not of their race and ethnicity was below them. The idea that racism is a new term and only set up for white people to have power, is why the SWJ culture will continue to be racist. Allowing you to excuse behaviors, attitudes and speech, if they were reflected onto you would have your heads spinning like Regan from the Exorcist. Essentially, you want to be prejudice, bigoted, racists, against white people.

    Here’s the real kicker, if SWJs win and white people have been beaten down to the point where they believe minorities are currently, then the definition is going to flip on them. They are going to be like we can be racists. No, according to your own definition, racism refers to a system. White supremacy is gone. You’re the racists now, since white people don’t have the power or privilege.

    This is why redefining terms for political power is evil and shows that SWJ are the modern day fascists.

  9. Ketchup and tomato sauce are two different things. Ketchup is made with spices, while tomato sauce isn’t. So yes. Ketchup is supposed to be spicy. And I can see that you are Australian,and it really annoys me when other Australians use American spellings and terms.

    Like the first comment on this says, maybe just don’t be such a shit person to someone based on their skin colour or heritage. That goes for POC to white people, and vice versa. Why can’t we all just get along, no matter our race,gender or sexuality. ๐Ÿ™

    1. Most people do get along, it’s just dumb people who don’t know basic math and can’t figure out only a minor percentage are racist.

  10. “People of color can certainly be prejudiced toward white people. However it is not racism because there is no larger system in place which oppresses white people.” Really? Have you ever heard of individual racism? It is a form of racism, just as systematic racism is another.

  11. Oh my, oh my, a 17-year-old kid trying to explain the world based on the PC-bullcrap he was taught 12 years of his school life.

    Listen mate: That’s ok and probably gets you some pussy nowerdays but still it’s just bullshit. Just because you don’t like a definition doesn’t make it right or wrong. Definitions are better or worse, mostly based on the number of people agreeing with it.

    But hey, the people above allready told you enough why you and your half-asian half european privileged ass (Who gives a crap about your ‘race’ anyway? Why would you point it out even if it’s unnecessary for your bullshit) are just plain wrong with almost everything you tried to say. Perhaps it sounds better in your head or gets you an extra smiley-face on your paper by the nice teacher-lady, but in a real worlds discussion you don’t survive a second with this lefty-biased brainwash nonsense. I pity you, I really do.

  12. Lol – if the only support you get is by an 14-year-old co-writer of this platform, you should really start thinking about the quality of your ‘articles’.

  13. The subsequent time I learn a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I do know it was my option to read, however I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could repair should you werent too busy looking for attention.

  14. Black people have historically trodden brown people in my country. Can you please give me a definition of Racism that applies to my country?

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