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Applied Ethics Forum: Aness Webster
April 9, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
‘Making sense of shame in response to racism‘
Aness Webster (University of Nottingham)
Friday 9 April 2021 • 12:00pm–2:00pm • zoom link
Abstract: Some targets of racism report feeling shame in response to a racist incident. However, this phenomenon seems puzzling since plausibly, the target of racism has nothing to feel shame about. I draw on David Velleman’s analysis of shame to explicate the nature of shame that is sometimes experienced in response to racism. I propose that, when an individual is racialized as non-white and stereotyped in a racist incident, she can feel shame about her inability to choose when race is made salient. Given that certain racialized identities are stigmatised, I argue that targets of racism should be able to choose when race is made salient. Hence, my account of shame can both capture the phenomenology of some who feel shame in response to racism and deliver the verdict that it is sometimes appropriate to feel shame in response to racism. My account also highlights emotional and cognitive costs of racism that have their root in shame felt in response to racism as well as a new form of hermeneutical injustice and distinctive communicative harm, contributing to a fuller picture of what is morally objectionable about racism.