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White guilt

White guilt is the individual or collective guilt felt by some white people for harm resulting from racist treatment of ethnic minorities by whites both historically and currently.[1] White guilt has been described as one of the psychosocial costs of racism for white individuals along with empathy (sadness and anger) for victims of racism and fear of non-whites.[2]

It can be characterized as a strong, emotional feeling of direct responsibility for the unequal circumstances of ethnic minorities living in historically and culturally European nations, or the Western world largely due to historical exclusion of non-whites from mainstream white society. Discomfort when talking about issues involving race is also a common characteristic of white guilt.

  • White Guilt: Its Antecedents and Consequences for Attitudes Toward Affirmative Action
  • White Guilt and Racial Compensation: The Benefits and Limits of Self-Focus
  • Teaching White Students About Racism: The Search for White Allies and the Restoration of Hope
  • White Guilt: Race, Gender, Sexuality and Emergent Racisms in the Contemporary United States

Further reading

  1. ^
  2. ^ Lisa Spanierman. Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology. 51(2):249–262 Apr 2004.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Lou Cannon. Phony Ad Salesmen Prey on "White Guilt". The Washington Post. January 16, 1978. Accessed September 30, 2007.
  5. ^ Shelby Steele. (2006) White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. HarperCollins. Except from Chapter 4: Certain Knowledge, p24. Accessed September 30, 2007.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Sunny Hundal. The guilt-free liberal. The Guardian. September 3, 2007. Accessed September 30, 2007.
  8. ^

References

See also

One academic paper suggests that in France, white guilt may be a common feature of management of race relations – in contrast to other European countries.[8]

Commentator Sunny Hundal, writing for The Guardian, stated that it is "reductionist" to assign political opinions to a collective guilt such as "white guilt" and that few people on the left actually hold the views being ascribed to them by the conservative writers who expound on the concept of "white guilt" and its implications.[7] Hundal concludes: "Not much annoys me more than the stereotype that to be liberal is to be full of guilt. To be socially liberal, in my view, is to be more mindful of compassion and empathy for others."

[6]

Whites (and American institutions) must acknowledge historical racism to show themselves redeemed by it, but once they acknowledge it, they lose moral authority over everything having to do with race, equality, social justice, poverty and so on. [...] The authority they lose transfers to the 'victims' of historical racism and becomes their great power in society. This is why white guilt is quite literally the same thing as Black power.[5]

Shelby Steele, a conservative black political writer, discussed the concept extensively in his 2006 book White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. Steele criticizes "white guilt" saying that it is nothing more than an alternative interpretation of the concept of "black power":

A report in The Washington Post from 1978 describes the exploitation of white guilt by con artists: "Telephone and mail solicitors, trading on 'white guilt' and on government pressure to advertise in minority-oriented publications, are inducing thousands of businessmen to buy ads in phony publications."[4]

[3]

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