White saviour complex, mass shootings & a bloody nose

It is interesting to watch India, and the ‘new Indians’ tribe on social media, pushing back against western nosey parkers.

Published: 13th April 2023 09:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2023 09:58 PM   |  A+A-

Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole is someone who has been vocal against the white saviour complex. (File Photo | AP)

Express News Service

KOCHI:  It is interesting to watch India, and the ‘new Indians’ tribe on social media, pushing back against western nosey parkers. One thing is clear, a majority of Indians are in no mood to let foreign commentators run their country down, despite warts and all. They give as good as they get.

An amusing case that I noted recently was a popular American columnist sharing his concern over students at a government school in Bihar not being fluent in English. He was promptly reminded that children in his backyard were being shot at school as flies to wanton boys. 

Unfortunately, the dude’s article appeared around the time when three children and three staffers were shot dead at a school in Nashville. The US, analysts note, has been witnessing an “astronomical increase” in campus violence over the past few years. 

Reports say there have been at least 89 school-related cases of gun violence in the US this year. At least 18 were killed and 56 injured in these incidents. In 2023 alone. 

Hmm, our school-going kids certainly appear better off, even if their Anglo-Saxon diction may not be of impeccable standards.

Incidentally, the US has been battling an “epidemic of mass shootings”. According to the American Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 145 mass shootings in the US, as of mid-April. 

On Monday, a gunman killed five people at a bank in Kentucky. Om Shanti to those souls.   

Now, imagine the world media — led by Indian commentators — pillorying Joe Biden for his failure in curbing the gun menace, and ensuring public safety!

Meanwhile, amid the Western media’s perceived belligerence on Indian affairs, a subject that has yet again come under the scanner is the ‘white saviour complex’.  

‘White saviour’ has, in fact, been listed as a ‘new word suggestion’ in the Collins Dictionary. Definition: “usually derogatory term for a white person who helps or has helped non-white people and may feel morally superior for doing or having done so”. 

The Urban Dictionary says it “refers to western people going in to ‘fix’ the problems of struggling nations or people of colour without understanding their history, needs, or the region’s current state of affairs”. 

In sociological terms, the white saviour complex is a phenomenon that is rooted in systemic racism and inequality. It is viewed as a form of neo-colonialism that perpetuates the idea that white people are superior to people of colour, and that it is their responsibility to ‘save’ them. 

White saviourism is nothing new; it has been around for centuries. Several historians have underlined that it was used to “justify everything from slavery to imperialism”.

White saviours often come with their own set of beliefs, values and ideas that they believe are superior to those of the ‘less privileged’. And there lies the problem. 

Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole is someone who has been vocal against the white saviour complex.

He stresses that it is “not about justice”, but “about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege”.

British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge sums it up succinctly: “The white saviour complex is built on the idea that white people are superior, and that they have the power and knowledge to save people of colour.” 

Well, the saviour complex is not just limited to the West. Even within India, this phenomenon can be seen in everyday situations. Self-appointed ‘saviours’ appear to take up the cause of the underprivileged, but end up enhancing their own privileges, with little palpable effect percolating down. 

Okay, time for me to go read up on postcolonial subalternism. Have a no-nonsense-nose week ahead! 
Stick your nose into something: “To interfere in someone else’s business or to be too curious about something”

A nose for something: “A natural talent or ability to detect or find something”

Be led by the nose: “To be easily influenced or controlled by others”

Brown-nose: “Someone who flatters or sucks up to someone in order to gain their favor or approval”

Count noses: “To count people or things”

Keep one’s nose out of it: “To refrain from interfering or getting involved in something that doesn’t concern you”

Pay through the nose: “To pay a high price or an exorbitant amount for something”

Powder one’s nose: “To go to the bathroom, especially to touch up one’s makeup”

Turn your nose up at something: “To reject or refuse something, usually out of snobbery or arrogance”

Keep your nose to the grindstone: “To work hard and focus on the task at hand”

Turn up one’s nose: “To show disdain or contempt for something”

Cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face: “To take actions that harm oneself in an attempt to get back at someone else”

Hold your nose: “To tolerate or endure something unpleasant”

Under someone’s nose: “In plain sight or very close to someone without them noticing”

Follow one’s nose: “To rely on instinct or intuition to find one’s way or make a decision”

Keep one’s nose clean: “To stay out of trouble and behave properly”

Look down one’s nose: “To act superior or arrogant towards others”

Lead someone by the nose: “To control or manipulate someone”

Give (one) a bloody nose: “1) to cause someone’s nose to bleed, especially by striking them; 2) to inflict damage or defeat on someone during a conflict or competition”


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