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Some people are succeptable to a "group mentality" unortunately.
Well if you have been part of a community, society or a group of people where being racist is a common thing of the day then it will eventually start growing on you.
Also depends on how young you are, if you are born in such an environment then you will easily become like others around you as you are so impressionable. It would help if your parents or your elderly or someone you admire shows you the right path and helps you be compassionate without being influenced by the prevailing opinion.
If you think about it then it is an individual's choice at end of the day. No matter how bad things are going on, our innate wisdom will always show us right from wrong.
I think "learned" is the better and more real understanding. Racism is far more muted than it was in the relatively short American past, a good thing for American youth who reap the benefits of an integrated America and with greater exposure to the world overall. Still, I boggle to find youth with entrenched racist actions and history. Sure, they can develop racist ideas from their own experiences; but much of it is learned from parents and grandparents that won't let go of the past...a sad suppression of personal freedom. And this exclusive of no race.
I think in a sense all of the "isms" can be contagious. Group mentality can be a dangerous thing and if one is within a group that gets riled up with racist overtones, it can spread like wildfire.
Yes. If you are around people who are racist, you will act racist. It is typical of human society. You would have to have a strong mind and a firm personality to not do so. And not enough people have that, even though they think they do.
We only have to look at pre-WWII Germany to conclude that it is. Probably, duffsmum has it right, that all isms can be contagious.
First, every one on this planet is racist and/or bigoted to some degree or another.
Now if the question were "Can very serious strains of racism/bigotry be contagious?" -- my answer would be a resounding YES!
I mean, like, Adolf Hitler and his NAZI henchmen touched off a rapidly-spreading epidemic by infecting millions of Germans with a strain of irrational suspicion of Jews that was far more intense than the various strains they were already infected with.
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