You can see the original post here where I reblogged it. It centers around the pictured comic which I have also reblogged and seen before. In the comic, an older man who expresses racist tendencies travels the world and changes his opinion on those who are different than him. The post linked here, however, critiques this comic and states that traveling does not cure racism but can actual further certain kinds of racism and cultural misunderstanding, such as the white savior complex (which I believe I've mentioned before, likely in one of the several posts on charity groups).
This post raises several good points, which is why I reblogged it, even though it caused me a sort of dissonant sadness to so (if you're familiar with that sad realization of noticing something you really like isn't perfect in its representation of something, you'll know what I mean. Basically, this is most everything in my life now, but that's a blog post for another time (no, really, it is). As my roommate Sarah said, "I can't be a functioning member of society now!" in regards to critique of things. This is essentially how I feel looking at this post). Yes, the white savior complex is an issue, especially in regards to humanitarian efforts, traveling, and understanding cultures in` general, especially in an academic setting. Yes, traveling cannot magically cure racism - there are certainly people who travel and return to their homes only to more firmly believe that they are the epitome of civilization and that people elsewhere are less so or "others" or "exotic" or what have you. And yes, a simple little cartoon cannot capture the complexity of traveling and race relations and privilege in the world. But despite all of the errors this post does illuminate from the comic, I still like the point the comic is trying to make and I like this comic no matter what. Because it give me hope.
This response to the comic makes several assumptions which I find counterproductive. They assume that people who travel are not educated - no, not even educated, that assumes that someone needs schooling to act this way. I'd say aware - enough to think of people from other areas of the world outside of the realm of exotic or othered. I understand that I have had the privilege to be exposed to a way of thinking that allows me to work against othering people and that we are very much part of cultures that continue to do this. But I find it kind of distancing to assume that this is how a white traveler thinks. Perhaps this is how media and hegemonic influence would like us to think, but I somehow don't feel that we all thinking this way. Maybe I really am farther from the norm than I think. But I'd like to believe that if you took a random group of white Americans to another country that it wouldn't continue the "ugly American" perception. Perhaps I'm terribly wrong. But I'd rather be optimistic and be wrong than be a pessimist on this issue.
Bordo, Susan. Twilight Zones: The Hidden Life of Cultural Images from Plato To O.J. University of California Press, 1997.