Being an Ally & Avoiding White Savior Complex

Where does ally-ship become toxic?

byRachel Safeek2,119 Views
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  1. Allies of minority groups exercise certain privileges that are not available to the groups they are allied with. When members of minority/oppressed groups call out allies for being insensitive, overshadowing minority groups, or overlooking certain things because of their privilege, allies can oftentimes become offended and get defensive...
  2. An example of an ally becoming defensive instead of using  criticism as a learning opportunity: Piers Morgan's response to the critiques of Janet Mock and the transgender community:
  3. In her critique of Piers Morgan's interview, Janet Mock made the following remarks….
  4. You can absolutely have the best intentions and still hurt the groups you are allied with...
  5. So, how CAN you be a good ally to the groups you are advocating on behalf of? And how can you do this without adopting a savior complex?
  6. Your mentality matters. The premise of all savior complexes lie in self-promotion or seeking public approval and praise rather than true social justice advocacy. 
  7. Be mindful of the fact that if you are in a position where you feel like you have the ability to "save" or "empower" oppressed/minority/disempowered groups, you are demonstrating your position of privilege and, in fact, reinforcing social hierarchies. 
  8. One great way to know how you can help is by listening and asking groups you are allied with how they would like for you to become involved. By listening and taking into account the words of others, you demonstrate a genuine interest, and you will likely be called upon when your support is needed. 
  9. Remember: No one wants to be "saved". Empowerment is something which, ultimately, must be found internally, from within a minority group. Allies should be focused with allowing members of groups they are allied with to have the spotlight, not necessarily inserting themselves on a pedestal. 
    For more commentary, see my blog post on Harmful Ally-ship:  http://bluedevilbanter.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/effective-ally-ship/ 

    Email me: rachel.safeek@duke.edu
    Twitter: @RachSafeek

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