- My high school was a magnet school that brought resources from richer areas to poorer areas
- I spent a summer as a camp counselor at a camp that serves youth living near or below the poverty line
- I just finished volunteering with a program that teaches cooking skills to kids from underserved communities
I've never before thought about why these were my primary interactions with people of color and how might I be complicit in the systems that have created the inequality. Looking at it now it makes me think of an article I saw on the White Savior Industrial Complex and the quote ‘The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.’
The author of the book talks about her own experience with a lifetime of trying to “help” inner city kids:
An element of class you'll notice in my story is the persistent sense of needing to "help" and "fix". These characteristics are considered by many to be trademarks of the dominant class [...] The last thing I felt I was doing was imposing my culture on students. I thought I was being helpful. this is one of the many horrors of whiteness - the ease with which good intentions can instead perpetuate one's attachment to racial roles [...] I now understand that what I was doing is called "dysfunctional rescuing" helping people in ways that actually disempower them
As I reexamined my life from an awakening perspective, the whole Robin Hood role felt particularly humiliating. The idea that my career in the arts had revolved around trying to help those I'd been taught to see as less fortunate felt twisted. Understanding their misfortune as directly related to my good fortune made me feel as if I'd offered a hand to a drowning person, who was drowning because moments earlier I'd burned their ship out from under them. And worst of all, I had been giving myself a pat on the back for offering them a hand.