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Dating as a Person of Color and The White Savior Complex

There is a certain phenomenon that seems to occur more often than not when it comes to interracial dating. I am almost ashamed to say that I haven’t picked up on it sooner. As a young woman of color, I have gone through plenty of hardships when it comes to dating, such as fetishism, colorism, and appropriation. Needless to say: the struggle is real. However, as I continued to delve into the rather confusing and somewhat terrifying world of romance, I came across a disturbing pattern. Initially, I thought it was just me picking the same kind of guys, because I had never heard anyone else talk about this issue. It didn’t even have a name. It still doesn’t have a name. But for right now, let’s just call it the white savior complex.

The white savior complex actually refers to when a white person views a person of color as helpless and feels as if they can “save” them.

A good example would be the Europeans attempting to westernize every other continent they came across because they felt that it was “for their own good”. The white savior complex is also a trope in cinema where a white character saves a person of color, often from themselves. Another good example of white saviorism would be white feminists attempting to “liberate” Muslim women by wanting them to abandon their culture and do all the things that they as white women can get away with. We already knew that all of these things were toxic to society.

The kind of white saviorism I am going to describe is different. It is more subtle, yet I feel as if it happens more than some people may realize. In my experience, white men will feel as if they are so noble for wanting to date me. They become self-righteous. It’s almost as if they are saying, “Hey, I am willingly dating this black girl. Isn’t she so lucky?”. Sometimes I just sit back and wait for the “If my parents found out I was dating a black girl-”  and the I usually don’t date black girls but you’re the exception”  speeches simply because they amuse me. How many more ways can you keep reminding me that you are white and I am not? You are not doing me a favor by wanting me. Wanting me “despite” my race does not make you noble or honorable. You aren’t saving me from being unwanted, you are not taking one for the team, you are not the knight-in-shining-white-skin. My race does not make me a damsel in distress.

You feeling as if my race makes me in need of saving is racist.

Clearly not all white people are like this, but evidently, some of them are. If you are a person of color that is involved with a white person in any way, and it seems like they feel like they are performing an act of kindness by being with you, then leave them. White saviorism is not love, it is not respect, it is not admiration. White saviorism is racism. Who you are as a person does not make you less fortunate, or trapped, or lost. Your race does not indicate that you need to be saved, and nobody reserves the right to make you feel like you do.

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Jaedyn Guthrie
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Jaedyn is an Afro-Latina intersectional feminist studying biology at Florida International University. She hopes to make a significant impact in the world through writing.

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