Leslie Houts Picca and Joe Feagin argue that whites strive to isolate racial discourse to all-white social spaces. We can explain this practice by assuming that many whites—including “non-racist” whites—think of racism as shameful. Shame essentially concerns not what we do but how we are perceived. Maintaining their identities as “not racist,” then, seems to these whites primarily to involve the management of non-white people's perceptions of them. By isolating much of white racial discourse to all-white spaces, the white construal of racism as shameful denies non-whites’ standing to participate in the construction of the social norms governing whites’ relationships with them. We should instead treat racism as disrespectful, and so requiring public correction because of its role in sustaining racist social norms.

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