On White Shame and Vulnerabiltiy

South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):472-483 (2011)
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In this paper I address a tension in Samantha Vice’s claim that humility and silence offer effective moral responses to white shame in the wake of South African apartheid. Vice describes these twin virtues using inward-turning language of moral self-repair, but she also acknowledges that this ‘personal, inward directed project’ has relational dimensions. Her failure to explore the relational strand, however, leaves her description of white shame sounding solitary and penitent. My response develops the missing relational dimensions of white shame and humility arguing that this strand, once visible, complicates Vice’s project by (1) challenging her unitary and homogenous view of white identity, and (2) demonstrating the important role vulnerability plays in our understandings of white shame.

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Alison Bailey
Illinois State University


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