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

Just a few thoughts….

I can see the parallels between some aspects of mental illness and racism, but I would agree with many above that racism could not accurately be considered a mental illness. I view it as a cognitive schema with biological roots. “Us vs them” is a cognitive process that has worked towards selection throughout humanity’s development. The problem is that it is misapplied in modern society and manifests as racial bias with negative consequences. Indeed racism is about power, as that is the heart of the “us vs them” mechanism. We tend to favor those most like us. Like an appendix, though, this evolutionary artifact is more detrimental than helpful and is no longer needed (in this context).

But one thing did strike me as odd in your article. When you say “White people would like racism to go away. The thought that their ancestors could have been slave owners is an embarrassment to most.”. The 2010 census determined that there are nearly 224 million white people in the US. Do you believe it is intellectually honest to presume that 224 million people all think, believe, and feel the same way? Do you recognize that very few white people in the US today are actually descended from slave owners? (In fairness, the vast majority of white people don’t realize this themselves). The legacy of slavery and racial bias in our society does touch every one of our lives each day, but these broad racially-based generalizations with all of the presumed attributes in tow may not be a good way to begin an honest dialogue. In fact, their use tend to mark the end of the conversation.

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