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  1. May 2022
    1. Racism does not appear to be a mental illness, and you cannot treat it with talk therapy and pills. However, both racism and mental illness thrive in silence and isolation. The next step is to talk, openly and frankly, about both—and then have the guts to actually listen to each other.
    2. Some commentators went further than Graham in trying to disconnect Roof from culture and history. Another Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry, called the shootings an “accident,” and many have invoked the language of tragedy or natural disaster. Yesterday, in her now-deleted Twitter account, Miami Herald columnist AJ Delgado questioned whether Roof was actually white, and added that white supremacists don’t kill black people in churches (forgetting, for example, the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama). Such disparate efforts to “other” Roof—to repudiate his connections to community, history, culture, or even humanity—add up to one thing: denial.
    3. Linda Tropp, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an expert on prejudice, told me in an email exchange that this is probably an example of “fundamental attribution error” at work—that is, the tendency of humans to credit a person’s action to personality rather than his or her situation or social context. “Relegating the Charleston killing to the cause of ‘mental illness’ may lead us to make a dispositional (personal) attribution for the person’s behavior, and to downplay the situational/structural issues that have brought about such a racist act,” she wrote.