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Confronting Racism as a Social Disease

Deborah Peterson Small on the Need to Hone Our Therapeutic Focus

Deborah Peterson Small • 12/11/2015

When you talk about mental health and racism, bear two things in mind. One is the obvious harm that racism causes to the black and brown people who are the objects of racial discriminatory behavior, but the other part---never really talked about---is the harm that comes to white people from living in a racist society and the way in which it distorts their perspectives of themselves. It doesn’t matter so much how people acquired the condition of racism. Instead, the relevant questions are how we contain it and how we prevent it from being passed on to the next generation.

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Confronting Racism as a Social Disease

Deborah Peterson Small on the Need to Hone Our Therapeutic Focus

Deborah Peterson Small • 12/11/2015

When you talk about mental health and racism, bear two things in mind. One is the obvious harm that racism causes to the black and brown people who are the objects of racial discriminatory behavior, but the other part---never really talked about---is the harm that comes to white people from living in a racist society and the way in which it distorts their perspectives of themselves. It doesn’t matter so much how people acquired the condition of racism. Instead, the relevant questions are how we contain it and how we prevent it from being passed on to the next generation.

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Deborah Peterson Small, JD/MPP, is a lawyer, policy analyst, and the founder and executive director of Break the Chains: Communities of Color & the War on Drugs.