Woke-ing Well; The difference between being a Savior and Being an Ally.

Whitney Alese
4 min readJun 26, 2018

I think it goes without saying that the current political climate has indeed awakened and shaken the populous.

As a culture, we used to make fun of the person who was “woke” often clad with a vintage protest tee, a printed kufi and was the perpetual buzz kill of any party, bbq, or social gathering. But the last few years has changed that dynamic, and now being woke is something to espouse to. We have seen this shift in our conversations, on social media, hell, most of our cool tees and the popularization of pin and patch culture, all bearing some politically charged message, show the shift of the culture; that even our fashion speaks for us.

To be honest, there are enough issues for every person of the woke ilk to chose one and support it. But there is a social selfishness that pervades even our wokeness. We only support or speak on issues that directly affect our own communities. And while communal advocacy is vital, indeed essential, for that communities survival, there is something even more powerful when we can bring similar passion to conversations that have little or nothing to do directly with our own communities.

We need to care about each other. But in doing so, we also need to be responsible in that caring. Part of that responsibility is understanding the differences between being a savior and being an ally.

A savior is defined as “a person who saves, rescues, or delivers.” The “savior” can be seen as the person who goes to underprivileged communities to “help” and are trying to “save” the people there. It is the Michelle Pfeiffers in Dangerous Minds, the Kevin Costners of Dances With Wolves, the Tom Cruises of The Last Samurai, the Hilary Swanks of Freedom Writers.

These people, who happen to be somehow connected to the oppressing community, seeking out the chance to save those who are oppressed, usually without knowing, understanding, or belonging to that community. In addition, these are the folks who place themselves in the center of the narrative. These are people who somehow seek to dominate those whom they are supposed to be helping. They typically do not ask those whom they are helping anything about their communities, their needs, or even themselves. In this, they render themselves…

Whitney Alese

Whitney Alese is a writer & podcaster, featured in WIRED Magazine (Sept 2020) & I-D Magazine (Dec. 2021), and NBC (Jan 2023). She is based in Philadelphia.