In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the first definition of racism is “a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” The key point in that definition of racism is that race, an immutable characteristic that one cannot be responsible for choosing, confers a benefit to one group while assigning a negative to another. Everyone in polite society agrees that such a belief is wrong.
Racism is a problem in America. Of that, there can be no doubt. A debate can be had as to the scope of the problem, but intellectually honest people will admit we do not live in a utopia in perfect harmony with each other. One way that will not move the ball forward to solving the problem of racism is to assign power roles to people based solely on the color of their skin in a redefinition of racism.
The Anti-Defamation League (“ADL”), which historically fought against antisemitism, has to its great shame, offered the following definition of racism:
Racism: The marginalization or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.
The intellectual dishonesty of this statement is breathtaking. No right-minded person favors marginalizing or oppressing anyone, regardless of the color of their skin. However, the references in the new definition to race itself as a qualifier that assigns a certain status is not only racist on its face but leads to absurd results. The new definition excludes the very people the ADL was founded to represent.
You may have had the incredible pleasure of seeing different races interacting in harmony if you have ever witnessed small children playing together outside. Kids do not know what a racial hierarchy is. They are not aware of what ‘white privilege’ is. They strive to be fair with one another. No one needs a new definition of racism. We only need to strive to be honest with one another.