Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access


John Giordano


White saviorism, as a form of individual, cultural, and institutional racism, results in the systemic silencing and dehumanization of Brown and Black individuals by maintaining white privilege while simultaneously upholding systems of oppression. One step that can be taken to work toward eliminating white saviorism is to support white individuals in becoming more effective in their racial justice efforts, particularly with regard to changing the structures and systems upholding current power imbalances. This study seeks to understand how white individuals develop critical consciousness of white saviorism. In doing so, this study seeks to provide findings that can be utilized in the development of supportive interventions to strengthen white individuals’ capacities to eliminate power imbalances maintaining white saviorism. This qualitative, phenomenological research explores how seven white individuals from a diverse array of disciplines and backgrounds are developing critical consciousness of white saviorism. Each participant was interviewed one time via video chat or phone call for approximately an hour. The interviews were then coded thematically. The research draws from an interdisciplinary perspective and identifies how white racial identity development informs the development of critical consciousness of white saviorism. The research identifies five stages experienced by the white study participants who are developing critical consciousness of white saviorism including; socialization, dissonance, distance and performance, introspection, and reconstruction. The discussion explores how these five stages might influence which types of support are most effective at each stage in the development of critical consciousness of white saviorism.