The "White Savior Mentality"
This week at DOW I read an article titled “It's time to challenge our white savior mentality,” the article concerns an award-winning PLAN International Finland campaign called “Maternity wear for a 12-year old.” The article speaks about this particular PLAN campaign and how it presents young pregnant girls within Zambia in maternal clothing in order to raise funds for educational purposes. The article speaks of the campaign as one calling for the white Finnish audience to “rescue” these young girls. This is where the “white savior mentality” is presented within the campaign message. The “white savior mentality” can be defined as western people attempting to fix the “problems” of developing nations or people of color without understanding the history or the needs of those nations/people. This particular article caught my attention immediately because of the fact that the “white savior mentality” is a phenomena that continuously occurs and is usually not addressed out right. The article explained that rather than showing children/young adults within Zambia as capable persons who need aid, the campaign showed them as an object to pity. The campaign completely ignored the larger societal or economic structures that hinder or enable children’s education. I feel that the article is very right in saying that we must refrain from trying to “rescue” people who do not need rescuing but rather find out what can be made more suitable (in that countries standards) within the society they are living in. The article does a great job of noting that “child pregnancy is not only a gender question but also part of larger societal and global structures, involving economic inequalities and North-South power relations that are rendered invisible with this campaign.” I believe this article is important being that it recognizes the “white savior mentality” and calls for campaigns to display images that show the capabilities and possibilities children have/could have if their education system was beneficial rather than displaying situations of children that people may feel the need to rescue them from.
When analyzing the campaign of DOW I believe the organization does a great job of “staying away” from the “white savior mentality.” The organization is well versed in the PWD community within Eswatini and continues to research/gain knowledge about the PWD population. I believe DOW as an organization does all it can to understand the history of the PWD population as well as understand the needs of the population. I also believe DOW will continue to acquire knowledge so the organization will never fall into having the “white savior mentality.”
Be sure to check back next week for more updates!
Thanks for reading!