What’s The Difference Between Cultural Appreciation And White Saviorism?

between cultural appreciation and white saviorism

When discussing race and cultural differences, it’s essential to be aware of the line between appreciation and appropriation. This article will examine the difference between cultural appreciation and white saviorism and how to avoid crossing the line.

Cultural Appreciation

between cultural appreciation and white saviorism

Race and ethnicity are essential aspects of many people’s lives, so it’s no surprise that they often come into play when discussing travel. When exploring new cultures, it’s essential to be respectful and open-minded, but sometimes people can cross the line into what’s known as “white saviorism.” This is when someone from a privileged background tries to “save” people from a different culture, usually by acting as a tourist guide or doing charitable work.

While there may be some good intentions behind this behavior, it often results in the savior feeling good about themselves. At the same time, the people they’re supposed to be helping are left feeling powerless and voiceless. In some cases, it can even do more harm than good. If you’re planning on traveling to a new place and want to learn about the culture before you go, that’s great! Remember to check your privilege at the door and be mindful of how your actions might be perceived.

White Saviorism

What’s the difference between cultural appreciation and white saviorism? It’s a question that has been asked time and time again, and it does not have a clear answer.

Some argue that white saviorism is simply about helping others, regardless of race. Others believe it’s a form of cultural appropriation, where white people take on aspects of other cultures without understanding their context or history.

So, what is the difference between cultural appreciation and white saviorism? To understand this, we need to look at the motivations behind each.

Cultural appreciation is about learning about and respecting other cultures. It’s about understanding the unique customs and traditions of another group of people and recognizing the beauty in diversity. White saviorism, on the other hand, often has ulterior motives. It can be driven by a sense of superiority or a desire to “fix” what is seen as broken. This can lead to well-meaning but ultimately harmful actions, like forcing assimilation instead of celebrating difference.

At its core, cultural appreciation is about understanding and respect. White saviorism is often about control. One is based on a desire to learn; the other is on a desire to change.

The Dangers of White Saviorism

When it comes to race relations, there is a fine line between cultural appreciation and white saviorism. The latter is a dangerous mindset that can do more harm than good.

White saviorism is the belief that white people are the saviors of people of color. This belief is rooted in racism and sexism and ultimately upholds the notion that white people are superior to others. It also perpetuates the idea that people of color are helpless and in need of constant rescue.

This dangerous mind-set can lead to several harmful consequences. For one, it can result in well-meaning but misguided attempts to help. This often takes the form of unsolicited advice or assistance, which can be frustrating and intrusive. It can also lead to people of color being tokenized or treated like objects or projects rather than as individuals with their agency.

Worse yet, white saviorism can sometimes result in harmful or violent actions, all in the name of “helping.”

Example Case :

This was tragically seen in the case of Amy Cooper, a white woman who called the police on a black man who was simply bird watching in Central Park. Her false claim that he was threatening her life led to a terrifying encounter with the police, who detained the man and put him in handcuffs.

Thankfully, the man was ultimately released, and no charges were filed. But the incident highlights the dangers of white saviorism. In this case, a white woman used her privilege to falsely accuse a black man of something he didn’t do simply because she felt threatened by his presence. This kind of thinking can have dangerous and even deadly consequences.


If you feel like a white savior, it’s essential to step back and examine your motivations. Are you genuinely trying to help, or are you motivated by racism or sexism? It’s also important to be aware of the potential consequences of your actions. Is what you’re doing helpful, or could it do more harm than good?

If you’re unsure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Avoid giving unsolicited advice or assistance, and resist the urge to “rescue” someone who doesn’t appear to be in danger. Remember that people of colour are individuals with their agency and don’t need to be saved.

How to Avoid White Saviorism

It’s essential to be aware of the difference between cultural appreciation and white saviorism. The latter is when people from dominant cultures appropriate or try to rescue people from other cultures, often without understanding the complexities and realities of their lives. This can be harmful and perpetuate stereotypes and power imbalances.

There are a few ways you can avoid white saviorism:

-Educate yourself about the histories, experiences, and cultures of others. This includes learning about privilege and oppression.

-Check your motivations for wanting to help. Make sure you’re not coming from a place of pity or superiority but rather a place of respect and solidarity.

-Partner with people from the communities you’re trying to help, rather than trying to do everything yourself. Listen to what they need and respect their expertise.

-Be humble and willing to learn. Don’t assume you know what’s best for someone else.

-Focus on long-term relationships and sustainable change rather than quick fixes or one-time volunteering.


In conclusion, it’s essential to be aware of the difference between cultural appropriation and white saviorism. Both can hurt marginalized communities, but only one is rooted in a desire to help. Understanding the distinction is key to being a responsible global citizen.

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