Is Prescribing White Shame Possible?

Is Prescribing White Shame Possible? margaret newton University of Oregon In Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism, Shannon Sullivan considers: “What can white people do to help end racial injustice?” (1). As one response to this question, Sullivan argues that prescrib- ing “white shame” and “white guilt” is useless, since promoting these ideas leads to self-hate and inaction on the part of white people. In this paper, I agree with Sullivan, but for different reasons. I argue that assuming that white people can feel ashamed simply about being white within our current society is unfounded. I will maintain that the project of “promoting white shame” is fraught to begin with, and show the significance of this finding for conversations about white people’s role in ending racial injustice. Arguments for and against White Shame This section considers some recent scholarship that argues for and against prescribing white shame for anti-racist efforts. Although white shame and white guilt are often coupled together within philosophy of race scholarship, I believe that these emotions are distinct enough to warrant their own sepa- rate analysis. For this reason, I will not provide a substantial or meaningful look at the idea of white guilt in this paper. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Pluralist University of Illinois Press

Is Prescribing White Shame Possible?

The Pluralist, Volume 15 – Feb 13, 2020

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1944-6489

Abstract

margaret newton University of Oregon In Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism, Shannon Sullivan considers: “What can white people do to help end racial injustice?” (1). As one response to this question, Sullivan argues that prescrib- ing “white shame” and “white guilt” is useless, since promoting these ideas leads to self-hate and inaction on the part of white people. In this paper, I agree with Sullivan, but for different reasons. I argue that assuming that white people can feel ashamed simply about being white within our current society is unfounded. I will maintain that the project of “promoting white shame” is fraught to begin with, and show the significance of this finding for conversations about white people’s role in ending racial injustice. Arguments for and against White Shame This section considers some recent scholarship that argues for and against prescribing white shame for anti-racist efforts. Although white shame and white guilt are often coupled together within philosophy of race scholarship, I believe that these emotions are distinct enough to warrant their own sepa- rate analysis. For this reason, I will not provide a substantial or meaningful look at the idea of white guilt in this paper.

Journal

The PluralistUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Feb 13, 2020

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