ADL changes definition of racism

The modified definition follows Whoopi Goldberg's suspension from ‘The View’ over comments on the Holocaust

The definition of racism has been rewritten for a second time by advocacy group the Anti-Defamation League after actress Whoopi Goldberg claimed the Holocaust was not about race.

The organization had initially changed its definition of racism in 2020 following months of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, quietly redefining the term in what appeared to be a response to the movement to mean “the marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.” 

That was a far cry from the ADL’s original definition, which defined racism as “the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another” or that “a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics.” 

The new ‘interim’ definition that appeared on Wednesday, however, was more closely aligned with the original description. The ADL website now explains that racism occurs “when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt credited Harvard professor Robert Livingston with the inspiration for the rewrite.

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Whoopi Goldberg arrives to "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in Manhattan on January 31, 2022 in New York City
Whoopi Goldberg suspended over Holocaust comments

The switch coincided with actress and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg being suspended from ‘The View’ for two weeks after she insisted the Holocaust was not about race, instead suggesting it was a struggle between “two white groups of people.” She was criticized not only by her fellow hosts, but by the ADL itself, despite its own definition of racism at the time suggesting it was a crime of which only white people could be guilty. 

Greenblatt accused the talk show host of “Holocaust distortion” and pointed out that the Nazis believed the Jews to be an “inferior race.” Goldberg’s co-hosts Ana Navarro and Joy Behar both pushed back against Goldberg on the show with similar arguments, with Navarro going further to claim the Holocaust was actually about “white supremacy.” 

Goldberg – who was born Caryn Elaine Johnson – has said in the past that she ‘feels’ Jewish, telling the London Jewish Chronicle in 2016 that she responds to queries about her Jewishness with “Would you ask me that if I was white? I bet not.

The ADL itself last month awarded ‘fellowships’ to so-called ‘Jews of Color’, raising eyebrows among some in the Jewish community who considered the designation unnecessary and discriminatory. According to a Pew Research Center poll from last year, 92% of American Jews identify as white.

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