Active white ignorance is accompanied by an epistemic and affective insensitivity that allows American white people to avoid the negative affect that might typically accompany harmdoing. Resisting active ignorance about racism and white supremacy, therefore, often gives rise to shame. Yet, thinkers have debated the value of shame for white people's antiracism. This article asserts that shame is an appropriate response for white people recognizing our culpability for and complicity in racist injustices and violence. However, the article exposes problems with philosophical accounts of white shame, and draws on recent psychological research to show that contextual factors actually determine whether shame can support white antiracism. The article proposes a role for shame in what José Medina calls an “ethics and epistemology of discomfort,” arguing that there are conditions under which shame may encourage the sustained self-interrogation, sensitivity, and humility required if white people are to contribute meaningfully to antiracist action.

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