Is Racism a Disease?

Rebecca Onion

Is a psychological diagnosis a useful way to view racism—or does it merely absolve the racist of blame?

After looking at the long history of psychology’s approach to racism, Gilman has come to the conclusion that we’ve gone around in circles. “There’s been a lot of discussion lately of ‘baskets of deplorables,’ ” Gilman said. “Of notions that groups of people, by definition, hold racist views.” But, he went on, “what that does is eliminates any responsibility for the individual. Racism is not an unconscious following of a leader—Trump, Hitler, whatever—but rather a whole set of individual people making choices