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Thandeka (1999). White Racial Induction and Christian Shame Theology: A Primer. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 4(4):455-495.

(1999). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 4(4):455-495

White Racial Induction and Christian Shame Theology: A Primer

Thandeka, Ph.D.

The following article draws from the literature of psychoanalytic shame theory to focus on the construct of white racial induction, what Thandeka regards as “white shame,” defined as the conscious experience of feeling indelibly flawed because one is not white enough. The article argues that the construct of “whiteness” as a false self constellation actually creates a racial identity that militates against the celebration of difference and the experience of humanity. When consciously reconstructed and recalled, these adults realize that at the center of their own white racial identity is the feeling of a child who grew up believing that he or she was not good enough to be loved for who they are beyond their racial induction. This feeling of not being good enough to be loved by one's own caretakers and community is a shame issue. Thandeka points out that the defense against such shame anxiety is to construct a false self identity of “whiteness,” a maneuver to find community support and affirmation. The accompanying affect to this search for group support is shame, a hidden race issue within white America. Shame seen in this regard becomes a social event: the failure of one's own caretaking environment to affirm the self in its own human terms as lovable. Thandeka's work seeks to underscore that the hidden shame issue among EuroAmericans is a key determinant of racism,

sexism, homophobia, and violence against others scapegoated as “different.” In this article, Thandeka will explore this shame dynamic in regard to Christian shame theology—in particular, the story of Bill McCartney and The Promise Keepers, and the writings of Martha Nussbaum—showing how Christian shame theology informs pervasive relational experiences of EuroAmericans.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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