Saving the White Savior
The summer of 2020 was one of the most historic times in modern-day history. We experienced not only a global pandemic, we experienced a racial pandemic as well. While some individuals who are not people of color are starting to educate themselves and do better there still remains their racist counterparts. This form of racism is not as overt as projecting stereotypes or using racial slurs, this racism lies within the words of those who claim themselves allies. These so-called allies believe in a movement so that they can appease their white guilt and pat themselves on the back instead of enacting real change.
To identify the white savior complex ideologies within yourself or those close to you, we must first understand the white savior complex and its history in our nation. Each year, decade after decade non-people of color have tried to come to the rescue of the Black community as if they are incapable of helping themselves. To make things clear, help is appreciated, but to insinuate that Black individuals are incapable of saving themselves and are in some way in need of the saving by their “superior white counterparts” is not only ignorant but insulting.
Between May and July of 2020, the world was seemingly on fire post the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The fire was merely a spark as this push for change quickly died down. Social media feeds went back to normal, profile pictures went from black circles of solidarity back to smiling faces and it became evident to many that their peers were performative activists and nothing more. Caring and supporting Black lives became more of an item to check off on a list rather than the serious matter that it is.
The Guide to Allyship points to seven distinctive characteristics and behaviors; “Take on the struggle as your own, transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it, amplify voices of the oppressed before your own, acknowledge that even though you feel pain, the conversation is not about you, stand up, even when you feel scared, own your mistakes and de-center yourself, understand that your education is up to you and no one else.”
So often ‘allies’ put themselves at the forefront of the conversation, painting themselves as heroes and “champions of change.” This behavior takes the attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement and the conversation then becomes one about how brave and heroic the white individual is when in reality they are doing what the Black community has been doing for years.
Dear white people, it is not about you. Put down the cardboard sign, the camera, stop hiding behind social media and aid the black community as we all strive towards equality for all people.
Sending a tweet, posting a picture or liking a status about social justice issues too many is a substantial amount of activism, in reality, it is all performative at best. While awareness is vital to change it is not substantial enough to stand alone on its own and make a change, awareness must be paired with action too. Angela Davis once said, “In a racist society, it’s not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” Being an ally is apart of being an anti-racist. Being an ally that does more than pat themselves on the back for retweeting, and sharing Instagram stories is important. If you want to make a difference, be a part of the change and not just post about it, the time is now.