(continuation) He was shivering, but technically he wasn’t asking for help. I wonder if, had I managed to give him the coat, it would have been something bad instead of the usual good people may think? Thanks. (end ask)
ok… going to assume you’re white and he was a PoC, otherwise I hope I don’t have to explain that there’s no way it could be white savior-y.
But anyway, I answered with an explanation of what white savior v. helping people is several asks ago, but to be brief, white savior is an attitude about actions, not so much the actions themselves, although they are linked since attitude guides which action you take.
But no, it is not offensive to offer a homeless man a coat (bolding to remind that homeless people can choose, if they want, not to accept charity for various reasons).
White savior complex usually occurs with a lot more people than one, and involves assumptions not based in the present moment. Like wanting to go to Africa to save the African people from themselves. It’s something that is happening because of assumptions about race, intelligence, and agency etc., rather than in spite of it. Sometimes it’s just assuming that your white charity is good, without examining the consequences. There is a movement here, that I’ve had friends participate in, where people turn pillowcases into dresses for young girls. Helpful in a very basic way, but it actually wreaks havoc on local communities that receive this “aid” in Africa, because they cannot compete with their own wares and good when people can receive them as foreign aid for free. So when you think about it, that’s a very well established organization, yet everyone was so assured that their charity was “helpful” they never paused to think that maybe the problem is more complex and not easy to solve by a few never-been-there outsiders.
It’s also the attitude people take afterward- like the Disney intern last week who thought her efforts to help africans get bushmeat, or whatever, could cancel out unrelated critique of her ideas about the Disney princesses. It’s like… seeing yourself as almost holy for helping african people, even though half the time people are using these charity events to further their career/education/whatever anyway (not in a mean way, but it’s not like they aren’t using the situation).
An example of white savior complex operating as a plotline is the disney movie Atlantis- see review for more details.
White savior complex is assuming you know the answer better than anyone else… and a bunch of other stuff. I think if you go back a couple pages, there was also a full reblog of explanation, so I don’t want to get into it too much more since there are a lot of places to read up upon it. I would really rather you find more sources because my response could be better, and I’m not going to be around later today to post anything people send me, if they do.
but tl;dr it’s important to understand what it is so that we don’t fall into it, because “being white, while giving charity” is not equivalent to “white savior complex.”