White Savior Complex
The term white savior complex refers to the belief that white people have a responsibility or a right to save or rescue people of color from their problems or circumstances.
The white savior complex often involves a sense of superiority and a lack of awareness of one’s own privilege, and it can manifest in a variety of ways, including charitable or philanthropic efforts, missionary work, or intervention in social or political issues.
The white savior complex can have harmful consequences, including perpetuating harmful stereotypes, undermining the agency and self-determination of people of color, and contributing to a culture of paternalism and dependency.
Some critics argue that the white savior complex represents a form of colonialism or neocolonialism, in which white people attempt to impose their own solutions or values on people of color without fully understanding or respecting their cultures or experiences.
Easy ways to address microaggressions at your school or workplace.
Understand the ways in which white people have historically imposed their values and solutions on people of color. This helps us recognize and challenge the white savior complex in ourselves and others.
Check Your Privilege
The white savior complex is often driven by unconscious biases and assumptions that we may not even be aware of. By reflecting on these biases and trying to understand where they come from, we can work to overcome them.
Rather than trying to impose one’s own solutions or perspectives, it is important to listen to and respect the voices and experiences of people of color. This can involve seeking out diverse perspectives and being willing to learn from others.
Center the Voices and Leadership of People of Color
Rather than trying to be a savior or a hero, we should support and amplify the voices and leadership of people of color in their efforts to create change and advocate for their own communities.
Thousands of white servicemen and civilians attacked Mexican American, Black, and Filipino youth during the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots.
Tragic building disasters will occur as long as corporate landlords get a free pass to exploit a weakened housing market and those desperate for shelter.
An activist since she was a teen and a supporter of the civil rights, anti-war, and Black Power movements, Angela Davis has been integral in the fight for social justice.
Related Words and Phrases
Join the newsletter crew.
Learn a new term each day in our free daily newsletter.