White Saviors: Fantasy Vs. Reality

“White people’s number one freedom, in the United States of America, is the freedom to be totally ignorant of those who are other than white. We don’t have to learn about those who are other than white. And our number two freedom is the freedom to deny that we’re ignorant.”

– Jane Elliott

It wasn’t long after “Green Book” won the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture” before woke black folks all over the country lost their mind.

“I thought I was court-side at the Garden, & the ref made a bad call.”

– Spike Lee

Spike Lee at the Oscars

For those who don’t know, the movie, “Green Book” according to IMDb, was about a working-class Italian-American bouncer who becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the American South in the 1960s. Full disclosure, I never saw the movie nor do I plan on seeing the movie, so take that for what it’s worth.

Of course in the ’60s America was embedded in the civil rights movement, which arguably was one of the most polarizing eras in American history. The title “Green Book” actually has historical value, which leads us to why the movie sparked so much outrage in the black community in the first place…

I mean after all, at least from a logical standpoint, you’d think a movie that shines a light on America’s racist history of oppression would largely be supported by those actually oppressed by that very system right??? Well, to truly understand this, we gotta take it back. Not too far back, but back. Let’s put it like this what I’m about to jump into is history, but not ancient history. So to put things in a better perspective, My grandfather was born 06/06/1936. Let’s keep that year in mind, 1936.

pboxRacial Terrorism

Quick History Tip | In the early years of the 20th century here in America black people, like much of their time here in America, lived in a state of racial trauma & violence. Jim Crow and segregation were still the laws of the land, and the threat of racial terrorism wasn’t just real, but often times sanctioned by local authorities. This is a fact of historical record.

No-Negros-After-Sundown
Loewen, James W. Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. New York: New Press, 2005.

RestRmsWe must remember that “Whites Only” policies and shit like “Sundown Towns”—municipalities that banned blacks after dark—were littered all across this nation which meant that black travelers often couldn’t find safe places to eat and sleep without the real threat of losing their lives simply for being black.

I have to keep it 100, even though we technically outlawed segregation, it’s still practiced here in America. There’s even an argument to be made we’re more segregated today in 2019 then we were in the days of legal segregation, but I’ll save that for another piece.

Related Sources:

Victor Hugo Green
Victor Hugo Green

Because of the very real threat of racial violence, Victor Hugo Green created the first edition of “The Negro Motorist Green Book.”

First published in 1936, “The Negro Motorist Green Book” provided a rundown of hotels, guest houses, service stations, drug stores, taverns, barber shops and restaurants that were known to be safe spaces for African American travelers.

The “Green Book” listed establishments in segregationist strongholds such as Alabama and Mississippi, but its reach also extended from Connecticut to California—pretty much any place where its readers might face prejudice or danger because of their skin color. Which as we know, is all across this MF country. In fact, there was a motto on the guide’s cover that also served as a warning: “Carry your Green Book with you—You may need it.”

Sidebar | Did you catch it? The first edition of “The Negro Motorist Green Book” came out the same year my grandfather was born… 

Now that we know the not so distant history of this country that brought about the necessity for something such as “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” let’s focus on why the movie, “Green Book” sparked so much outrage in the black community.

Whitewashing: The Real Face of Political Correctness

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Peter Farrelly holds aloft his Oscar after Green Book won best picture

When “Green Book” won the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture” in 2018, I was honestly shocked to see the lack of diversity amongst the folks who took the stage to receive praise for winning the highly esteemed award.

Talk about all white everything bruh. I thought the Titanic was being awarded for some lifetime achievement or some shit.

Well, let me take that back. Of course, there were a few black folks involved in the film. When I say a few I mean a very select few, and when I say involved I mean they only had acting roles. One of those acting roles was occupied by the great Mahershala Ali, so at least they did that right. But in terms of folks responsible for the actual script and how feelings, emotions, and images were captured and displayed in the film itself were all in the hands of white folks.

Me bring up the film’s lack of diversity in these key areas of creativity isn’t aimed to shame Mahershala Ali or even shame white writers/directors from creating content that focuses on historical events that are centered around race and race relations here in the states.

However, the lack of diversity in the foundational aspects of the film is largely what gave fuel to the backlash “Green Book” received from the woke black community. How? Well, this might seem controversial, but Hollywood, (and in my honest opinion a large percentage of white people) deal with America’s horrific past in a way that whitewashes hard to swallow truths…

Whitewashing |

“To whitewash is a metaphor meaning “to gloss over or cover up vices, crimes or scandals or to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data.

To my understanding (again I never saw the movie) “Green Book,” was centered around a friendly relationship between a black men (musician) and a white men (who played as the black man’s driver). The two go through racially-based situations that ultimately bring them closer together. Ultimately signally that America’s race issues can be solved if we just take some time to get to know each other.

I don’t disagree with this idea in the slightest. In fact, I think one of the best ways to solve race issues in America is true integration. So if the writers of the movie “Green Book” wanted to write a movie based on that idea, I’m all for it. However, if that’s the case, maybe name the movie something that fits that underlining message.

*ProTip for movie writers* Don’t name a movie after something that has serious historical value, just to create content that whitewashes the truth.

In other words, if Peter Farrelly wanted to keep “Green Book,” as the name for the film, cool. That’s not a problem as long as the film highlights, in great detail, the very real reason why “The Negro Motorist Green Book” existed in the first place. Anything less than that only whitewashes the truth behind the Green Book.

The White Savior

Hollywood doesn’t just whitewash hard to swallow truths… It also fuels white America’s unwillingness to face the truth inside its own community by creating what is now called, “The White Savior.”

The White Savior

“The white savior is a so-called cinematic trope in which a white character rescues non-white characters from unfortunate circumstances, oftentimes issues involving race. This so-called trope appears in an array of genres of films in American cinema, wherein a white protagonist is portrayed as a messianic figure who often learns something about him or herself in the course of rescuing non-white characters from their plight.”

In “Green Book,” Viggo Mortensen plays the white savior (Tony Lip) who stands up for Mahershala Ali (Dr. Donald Shirley) as they face racially charged threats throughout their journey in the Ameican south.

I want to end this piece breaking down the idea of the white savior. To do this we must examine the difference among white saviors, and more importantly, distinguishing the FANTASY from the REAL…

Fantasy 

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Facts

First, let’s focus on Hollywood’s idea of the white savior complex I outlined above. This was the “secret” but not so secret, sauce “Green Book” had that caused an automatic gag reaction from the woke black folks. To be real, a lot of people are starting to pick up on this bs. So much so, it’s become somewhat of a joke in mainstream entertainment. I mean take Seth Meyer’s latest skit for an example.

This is a fantasy bruh, and it’s a fantasy that actually helps maintain our current system of oppression through the ideology of white supremacy. How? Because Hollywoods version of the white savior complex enforces the idea that black people or a POC need a white person’s approval to be “accepted” in America’s society. This idea that the white savior can grant black folks and other POC access to the “club,” of course, is a fucking fantasy. Still not convinced this is a real thing? Check out this list of movies that feature a white savior:

The Blind Side
Radio
Hardball
Kony
Glory Road
The Last Face
The Air Up There

I mean I could keep going but check out this piece if you’re still not convinced: 15 Of The Whitest White Saviors In Film History

Believe it or not, there’s another type of white savior outside of the Hollywoods narrative that is also a fantasy, and plagues the white community with false hopes of “making a difference.” Check out this video from AJ+ for those details…

Related Source:
A Guide on How Not to Act Like a ‘White Savior’ While Volunteering in Africa

Even though all these ideas and images of the white savior are bull shit, that doesn’t mean white saviors aren’t real. White Saviors are very real bruh… They just aren’t considered white savior, in fact, very few white people see them as allies let alone saviors, but please believe they live among us…

Reality

The primary reason for uprooting racial discrimination from our society is that it is morally wrong. It is a cancerous disease that prevents us from realizing the sublime principles of our Judeo-Christian tradition. It relegates persons to the status of things.

Therefore, those persons who are working courageously to break down the barriers of segregation and discrimination are the real saviors of democracy.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Before we determine who the real white saviors are, we must first transform our idea of what a savior is. To do this I’m going to turn to the words from one of our fallen heroes. Martin Luther King Jr called racial discrimination in our society “morally wrong,” and that any person “working courageously to break down the barriers of segregation and discrimination are the real saviors of democracy.” I agree with him entirely. So from this day forward, let us view anyone who is fighting the good fight against this brutal system as a savior.

Martin Luther King Jr also said racial discrimination is a “disease,” and he wasn’t wrong about that either. Racial discrimination is a disease that not only plagues the black community through racial terrorism and systematic oppression but plagues the white community as well. How? Divide & Rule. We must understand that this country was established for the elites, and to maintain their control over the masses, they’ve successfully weaponized race as a social construct to divide and rule us all.

In other words, the elites have successfully pitted working-class whites against anyone who isn’t white or shares the idea of what whiteness is. So instead of blaming the elites for redistributing the wealth from their communities to the top 10% – 1%, working-class whites are fooled into blaming the other.

Related Piece: Whiteness: The Ultimate Social Control Weapon

Now that we’ve transformed what a savior is, and more importantly, have a clearer understanding that racial discrimination is a disease that plagues us all, we’re all set to determine who the real white saviors are.

Donna K. Bivens who is widely known as an Anti-Racism Trainer and Consultant once said; practically speaking, people of color cannot force white people to notice, acknowledge or dismantle racism and the white privilege that results from it. Nor can we continually monitor and check up on their progress. For one thing, a great deal of what happens to hold racism and white privilege in place goes on out of the purview of peoples of color. Ultimately, white people must come to their own understanding of why it is in their interests to dismantle a system that does not work for all humanity and commit to creating something better.

This is the 100% truth, so a real white savior isn’t necessary white people actively working to eradicate institutional racism inside of the black community. Nah. The real white saviors are the white folks working to eradicate institutional racism inside of their own communities.

I started this piece off with a quote from Jane Elliot, a true white savior.

“White people’s number one freedom, in the United States of America, is the freedom to be totally ignorant of those who are other than white. We don’t have to learn about those who are other than white. And our number two freedom is the freedom to deny that we’re ignorant.”

– Jane Elliot

It’s that same ignorance Jane point’s to that plagues the white community and continues to fuel the flames of racial oppression through this nation. True white saviors understand that the only way to rid this nation of the sickness of racism is to confront it directly in their own communities. Below is a list of true white saviors who have dedicated their lives to fighting the good fight inside their our neighborhoods.

Jane-Elliott-1200-by-800-1
Jane Elliott | Jane is an American former third-grade schoolteacher, anti-racism activist, and educator. She is known for her “Blue eyes–Brown eyes” exercise. She first conducted her famous exercise for her class the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
DiAngelo-1000x563
Robin DiAngelo | Robin J. DiAngelo is an American academic, lecturer, and author working in the fields of critical discourse analysis and whiteness studies. She formerly served as a tenured professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University.
Christian Picciolini
Christian Picciolini | Ex Neo-Nazi, Christian is an American author and public speaker who is the co-founder of a nonprofit peace advocacy organization called Life After Hate. He wrote a memoir, Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead, which details his time as a leader of the American white power movement.
Tim wise
Timothy Jacob Wise | Tim is an American anti-racism activist and writer. Since 1995, he has given speeches at over 600 college campuses across the U.S. He has trained teachers, corporate employees, non-profit organizations and law enforcement officers in methods for addressing and dismantling racism in their institutions.
Dr Jacqueline Battalora
Dr. Jacqueline Battalora | Battalora is the author of the book, Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today. She is an attorney, professor of Sociology at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. Battalora is an editor for the Journal of Understanding and Dismantling Privilege. Battalora develops and delivers lectures and training that advance understanding of the construction of race and its impact today.

I consider all these white people true allies in the fight against racism and white supremacy here in America. Of course, this is my somewhat “objective” list of real white saviors haha.

Below I’ll link to some of their lectures, so feel free to check them out whenever you have time. Remember these are true white saviors so you’ll notice that these lectures happen primarily in white spaces.

Racism Experiment by Jane Elliott

University of Washington professor Dr. Robin DiAngelo reads from her book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” explains the phenomenon, and discusses how white people can develop their capacity to engage more constructively across race.

Dr. Jacqueline Battalora details how white supremacy was institutionally embedded in the United States of America as a matter of foundational law.

If you think I left some folks out let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear who made your list, or maybe you have issues with some of the things I discussed in this piece. Either way, let your thoughts be heard below!

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