How America Spreads the Disease that is Racism by not Confronting Racist Family Members and Friends
April Harter, LCSW

“Racism is complex in scope because it is both a mental illness and a value.”

Racism is a social illness, not just a mental illness. To borrow the language of illness stages:

  • It isn’t just spread within groups — it incubates there
  • It responds to social conditions more than the mental state of the individual
  • It relates to group consciousness rather than the individual ego
  • The early signs and symptoms are seen at the group level
  • At the illness stage it spreads to other groups
  • Treatment must focus on society-level causes

I mean, obviously racism affects some individuals more than others, but plenty of Nazis had and have no mental illnesses at all. Less racist societies aren’t necessarily mentally healthier, but they are socially healthier.

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