Disclaimer: The savior complex isn’t relative to just the Black community, but the following message is. If my words offend you, I apologize in advance, but I have to get this off my chest.
- Savior Complex (also known as the Messiah or Christ complex) is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.
My issue with the Black Savior Complex started when I was about 10/11 years old, but it didn’t come to a head until I witnessed the reaction from actor Jesse William’s speech at this year’s BET Awards. These feelings developed in the black church. As a young boy, I was amazed at the power that my pastor had over an entire congregation of people with just his words. I didn’t know if it was his delivery or religious references that could make grown men and women shout, run around, or speak in tongues, but I was speechless every time I saw it. Then I started to notice that my pastor had acquired another power, and that was the ability to get monetary donations from men and women who didn’t necessarily have the money to give but gave it anyway. And I’m not talking about the tithe (10% given as an offering to God or to support the church), I’m referring to the extra donation that’s supposed to be used for the “expansion” of the church. I remember asking myself, “why do we need a bigger church when this one is big enough?” But I wouldn’t dare ask my pastor that, because he was the first black savior that I saw and asking that would’ve been disrespectful. However, when that bigger church was never built, I knew something was off. And after seeing other black pastors acquire that same power of getting the black working poor to give extra money, I started to ask even more questions.
Black pastors aren’t the only saviors that I’ve seen within my community. No, there’s a list of people who can get black folks to jump through walls if they asked. And if we can’t jump through it, we’ll hopscotch until we at least put a dent in it for them.
Oh, I just thought of another.
We love her, just ask Trayvon Martin’s mother.
I’m still confused about that one.
My criticism isn’t towards the Saviors/Leaders/Symbols—if there’s a difference—my criticism is towards the majority of us who will follow behind any and everyone that gives fiery rhetoric, makes us feel good, or who we believe will take us to the promise land. And I’m speaking from experience, I’ve done this before: followed without doing any thorough research. I’ll give you a prime example, President Barack Obama. I defended Obama well into his second term over everything. I, like most of us, drunk some of the Obama juice back in 2008 and believed that he was going to be THE ONE for the black community. Although I won’t put all of the blame on his administration because our issues are bigger than one man, but aside from the Affordable Care Act, systemically speaking, what has changed in regards to the economic scope of the Black community during his two terms?
If you can think of anything, feel free to educate me in the comment section below. Let me just grab a cup of tea real quick.
As a people, we tend to wait for someone to get us excited about uplift in our communities and it’s just pathetic at this point. Studying religion and the spiritual connections between human beings is just too much work, so we’ll just wait until the Reverend tells us what to do. But make sure you bring that checkbook, though, for the “ministry” and possibly for the Reverend’s private jet. Teaching black girls about their beauty and what makes them special requires too much time, so we’ll just wait until the Queen shows them. Because black women didn’t start taking pride in themselves until Beyoncé told them to “slay,” right? Discussing group economics and building businesses for the next generation requires too much planning, so we’ll just wait until our favorite Youtube scholar gives us some advice. That’s easier, right? We are looking like a joke and we’re too convinced that someone else can do better for us than we can do for ourselves. Use discernment and make your own move. Yes, I saw Jesse William’s pep rally of a speech at the BET Awards but I don’t need him to get me “turnt up” to fight the fight, and you don’t either.
Black Twitter (the pseudo, monolithic group within an app) likes to flood Twitter with “Black Magic” rhetoric after one of the many cyclical moments from one of their saviors and that’s starting to become redundant as well. We don’t need a hype man/woman, the struggle itself should keep you hyped; we don’t need any elected activists because we all can be activists; we don’t need a savior because it’s going to take more than one person to save our communities anyway.
If you don’t care to listen to me—a black man with a laptop—then I’ll leave you with some feel-good “fluff” from one of your favorite saviors.
Savior Complex Anyone? (2010). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.peopleskillsdecoded.com/savior-complex/