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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 12, 2014 at 5:20 PM

As we better understand racism, we need to better understand the word itself

I appreciated reading guest columnist Robin DiAngelo’s summation of our white American segregated society that unintentionally creates the opportunity for racism to grow [“What does it mean to be white?” Opinion, Aug. 9].

However, I am left believing we need to create a new word for the modern interpretation of the word “racism.” The current definition is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior,” which does not easily lend itself to accidental acts. A white old man like me may not understand other cultures, so I am more likely to offend or do something that could be interpreted as racist.

However, based on the true definition, if I truly do not believe my Anglo-Saxon heritage is superior then it is not racism. I am hesitant to re-define the word. Our English language needs some verbal way to differentiate between the racist acts that brought rise to apartheid and those who make mistakes in policy decisions, media communication and everyday social interaction.

If someone is apologetic for offending someone after a mistake based in lack of understanding, then we need to free that person from a word that includes some terribly hideous company. And if the opinion I presented here could be considered racist, then please accept my humble apology.

Johnmichael Monteith, Kirkland

Comments | More in Race | Topics: English, Johnmichael Monteith, racism

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