Future Directions for Vaccinating Children against the American Endemic: Treating Racism as a Virus

Riana Elyse Anderson*, Nia Heard-Garris, Ryan C.T. DeLapp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


For Black American youth and their families, the racial terror that claimed the life of George Floyd in May 2020 is nothing new, as stories of people who look just like them have been part and parcel of their lived experience in the United States. Beyond state-sanctioned murder, Black youth were also witnessing the disproportionate transmission, treatment, and travesty plaguing their community with COVID-19–all predictable outcomes given the inequitable systems supporting the American pipeline from cradle to grave. Why, then, were so many White Americans just coming into awareness of this deadly disease of individual and systemic racism that has ravaged Black American communities for centuries? In this work, we seek to explain in what ways racism is tantamount to a social virus and how its permeation is endemic to the American body, rather than an emerging threat, like a pandemic. We will also address how better conceptualizing racism as a virus allows for more accurate, precise, and feasible treatments for transmitters and targets of racism with respect to prevention (e.g., inoculation) and intervention (e.g., healing and vaccination). Finally, we will describe clinical therapeutic trials that will help to decipher whether our treatment of this social disease is effective, including family-level interventions and systemic shifts in prevention through clinical training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Future Directions for Vaccinating Children against the American Endemic: Treating Racism as a Virus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this