In The Help, Emma Stone’s character captures the stories of two Black women and becomes the ground-breaking journalist to expose racism in domestic work. In The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock’s character welcomes a Black teenager into her family (after seeing his upbringing firsthand) and becomes the star adoptive parent that saw potential in him. In Green Book, Viggo Mortensen develops a friendship with his Black classical and jazz pianist employer and protects him when faced with constant discrimination. Seems like innocent and powerful films right? But there’s an underlining common thread between them: Each film places Black stories on the back burner and makes the white protagonist the hero of the piece.
And this is just a reflection of real life. When white people try to help out Black, Indigenous and/or people of color (BIPOC), some have an agenda that can be disingenuous and profit from their struggles. And while it may look like allyship from far away, in reality, this behavior can cause more harm to a BIPOC community or individual than good. Here’s everything you need to know about what it means to be a white savior and how to avoid it.