Collective Responsibility as Resistance to White Supremacy

Philosophy and Global Affairs 3 (1):89-119 (2023)
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Abstract

This article offers a model of collective responsibility that arises out of group implication in the persistent injustices of racism and colonialism. It engages with a case study of Jewish refugees who arrived in the Americas in the aftermath of the 1492 Spanish Edict of Expulsion. There, it identifies a strategy of survival grounded in identification with white Christians at the top of the colonial hierarchy and disidentification with Black and Native peoples at the bottom. This identification yielded benefits for colonial Jews and those (the author included) who inherit their place in the colonial racial hierarchy. These benefits were at the expense of Black and Native peoples in the Americas. The article highlights the relational harms—to others and themselves—inherent in group complicity with white supremacy. It concludes by outlining the forms of collective responsibility that could counteract these harms and create relationality beyond white supremacy.

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Geoffrey Adelsberg
Edgewood College

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