Making Sense of Shame in Response to Racism

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (7):535-550 (2021)
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Some people of colour feel shame in response to racist incidents. This phenomenon seems puzzling since, plausibly, they have nothing to feel shame about. This puzzle arises because we assume that targets of racism feel shame about their race. However, I propose that when an individual is racialised as non-White in a racist incident, shame is sometimes prompted, not by a negative self-assessment of her race, but by her inability to choose when her stigmatised race is made salient. I argue that this can make sense of some shame responses to racism. My account also helps to highlight some of the emotional and cognitive costs of racism that have their root in shame as well as a new form of hermeneutical injustice and distinctive communicative harms, contributing to a fuller picture of what is objectionable about racism.

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Author's Profile

Aness Kim Webster
Durham University

Citations of this work

Stigma: The Shaming Model.Euan Allison - 2023 - European Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
Performative Shaming and the Critique of Shame.Euan Allison - 2024 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy:1-9.
Willpower as a metaphor.Polaris Koi - 2024 - In David Shoemaker, Santiago Amaya & Manuel Vargas (eds.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility Volume 8: Non-Ideal Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press.
Moral status of believing in races.Aness Kim Webster - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments.R. Jay Wallace - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy.Bernard Williams - 2002 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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