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How Whites Should Live in This Strange Place

Philosophical Society for Southern Africa
Publication Date
  • Political Science


In this paper, I argue that Samantha Vice is correct to claim that whites should feel shame and regret, though perhaps not guilt, at their whiteness. She is wrong, however, to suggest that there is a sense in which whites should live in silence and humility, and withdraw from public political space. In particular, I argue that this latter claim has absurd consequences, since it implies a withdrawal from non-public and non-political spaces also. Besides, whites, as complex selves, face conflicting reasons for action which Vice insufficiently grapples with. I conclude, however, that Vice is best interpreted as rightly suggesting that whites should live in careful reflective self-awareness of how their whiteness, and whiteliness, unfairly privileges them, still. This is preferable advice to Vice’s notions of silence and humility which are rightly but unnecessarily susceptible to confusion and compelling counterargument. Or so I argue.

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