How do we get herd immunity from racism?
Love the idea and love the article! People get it immediately when I tell them the title and I hope some come here to read it.
However, it has been on my (re-)reading list for some months because something felt incomplete and I haven't been able to pin down what.
Until today. The Root published an article titled "Racism is a pandemic" and something clicked. Let me see if I an articulate it. As I understand the main points of your article, we need contact tracing for racists for abstract concepts like justice and accountability, driven by very concrete needs to mitigate past harm and prevent future harm. In order to know how to solve the problem, we need information. Contact tracing will help us get what we need to know:
- Who racists have harmed
- How they've harmed them
- How much they've harmed their victims
- How long the racists have been infected
- What are the mechanisms of the disease and how it grows in an individual
Here are the couple of new thoughts, evoked by the thought of racism as a pandemic. (And I apologize in advance, you may have already made them, I may not have caught them.)
First, as with most diseases, on the one hand there are mostly unharmed carriers or disease vectors, both dormant (good ole wypipol just going about their day) and active (the micro-aggressors, the Karens, the Jarrods, the cops and other sundry white supremacists and then the full-blown mass murderers like Mr. Long from Atlanta), and on the other hand there are those who are susceptible to the external effects of the actively suppurating without being carriers. Think of racism as rabies: bats and rodents are carriers, some are unaffected by it, then there are dogs who are carriers (okay rabies does affect dogs, so my analogy breaks down here), some who bite people and some who don't. People aren't vectors for rabies, but once they have been exposed to the bite of a rabid dog it is over. Perhaps racism is like malaria. As I understand it, most of your article focuses on tracing the rabid dogs, isolating or euthanizing them to prevent them giving racism to non-vector victims, finding their victims and treating them. It is not enough to neutralize and isolate only the active racists. Eradication means also doing something about the "passive" carriers like bats and TGK and the other white trolls on here, because otherwise there will always be a reservoir of the disease from which it can break out at any time.
So, we also need to know
- Who are the potential racists, the passive carriers?
In addition, we know that racism is systemic, there are network effects.
- How does he disease propagate from individual to individual and across the population?
- Are there wypipol who are immune? (Yes, how do we identify them?)
- How many immune wypipol do we need in order to achieve herd immunity from racism? (Clearly we don't have enough - racism has grown from 2016 to 2020.)
Unlike rabies - rabid dogs don't bite and infect other dogs, mostly. In pandemics, contact tracing is used not just to find people expressing the symptoms of the disease but also to find people who may have caught the disease and passed it on to others.
So we also need to know which other vectors - wypipol in this case - have the known racists come in contact with who they've infected with racism, which could be lying dormant in these passive carriers until another one has a bad day?
- Who infected the known racist?
- Who has the known racist infected?
We need to test for racism everybody who has been in contact with proven racists, on social media, phone conversations, texts, in-person meetings, and then proceed, as you say, to inoculate them.