Anti-Defamation League Redefines Racism for Second Time Since Summer 2020

The Anti-Defamation League redefined racism again on Monday with what it called an “interim definition.”

Racism is now defined by the group as occurring “when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity,” according to Professor Robert Livingston of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University.

Sometime between late July and early August of 2020, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) redefined racism as the “marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.”

Riots broke out in the summer of 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd, who died as a result of police office Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he lay face down in the street.

Before the 2020 change, the ADL defined racism as “the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics.”

“A few years ago, ADL updated our definition to reflect that racism in the United States manifests in broader and systemic ways and to explicitly acknowledge the targeting of people of color — among many others — by the white supremacist extremism we have tracked for decades,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a Wednesday statement announcing the change.

Greenblatt said that when he re-read the definition this past week he realized it didn’t speak to his own family’s experience with racism as Jews from the Middle East.

“And, by being so narrow, the resulting definition was incomplete, rendering it ineffective and therefore unacceptable,” he added. “It’s true, it’s just not the whole truth. It alienated many people who did not see their own experience encompassed in this definition, including many in the Jewish community.”

Greenblatt said the ADL would be conducting a review of how the organization develops its definitions. He also asked for public feedback on the new definition of racism “to take ideas in a productive fashion and move beyond the mindless trolling on social media.”

On Monday, “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg came under fire for claiming “the Holocaust isn’t about race,” while the show’s panel discussed a Tennessee school district that voted to remove the Holocaust book “Maus,” by Art Spiegelman, from its curriculum.

“It’s not about race,” Goldberg doubled down. “It’s not about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man. That’s what it’s about.”

She apologized Tuesday for her comments, but was later suspended from the show for two weeks in response to the remarks. It is unclear if the incident had anything to do with the ADL’s redefinition of racism.

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Kendall Tietz