[[quoteright:235:[[Film/TheBlindSide http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/26940_slide_235x350_7090.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:235:[[http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_130_if-movie-titles-were-honest/ If Movie Titles Were Honest]]]]

->''"Is this one of those movies where the rich, benevolent white family teaches the black kid stuff like how to use a fork?"''
-->-- '''Internet commenter''' about ''Film/TheBlindSide''

This trope is about a plot where an ordinary, ethnically-European (white) person meets an underprivileged non-ethnic-Euro character. Taking pity on the other character's plight, they [[AllLovingHero selflessly volunteer]] themselves as the other's tutor, mentor, or caretaker to make things better.

This is a sister trope to MagicalNegro, but is not a direct inversion of it. While a MagicNegro is depicted as a supporting character to the protagonist, the rescuer ''is'' the protagonist in a White Man's Burden story. The white character is the one who gets all the CharacterDevelopment while the minority character's main purpose will be to advance that character development. The focus of this plot will be on the white character's saintliness rather than the minority character's journey. And while many [[MagicalNegro Magic Negros]] are depicted with supernatural or otherworldly abilities, the Samaritan in a White Man's Burden story will almost always be an ordinary person, to make it easier for the audience to identify with.

White Man's Burden movies are frequently created as OscarBait. Can easily induce {{Narm}}, {{Glurge}}, TastesLikeDiabetes, and/or an {{Anvilicious}} BrokenAesop or FamilyUnfriendlyAesop in the hands of a poor creator. SaveOurStudents plots frequently involve this trope.

A common [[DeconstructedTrope deconstructive]] variant of this trope involves white people [[EvilColonialist conquering non-white people and eliminating their culture]] under the pretext of helping them. This comes from the TropeNamer, RudyardKipling's poem "White Man's Burden," which is generally read as a justification for Western imperialism but was in fact the exact opposite - an exhortation for the United States to leave the Philippines (which it had just won from Spain) a better place than it found it, with no expectation of profiting from it. Sometimes the white people have genuinely good intentions but more deconstructive works will portray the white people as having ulterior motives, such as conquest and exploitation.

Compare and contrast with MightyWhitey, where a white person joins a foreign culture and soon becomes the most proficient member in it. The main difference is that MightyWhitey characters ''join'' the non-white culture, while White Man's Burden characters pull non-whites ''out'' of the non-white culture.

This trope has nothing to do with the 1995 film ''[[Film/WhiteMansBurden White Man's Burden]]''.

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!!Examples

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[[folder:ComicBooks]]
* The New 52 reintroduction of [[TheFlash Wally West]] has came under fire for this, due to Wally getting a RaceLift to make him half-black, but also being given a highly angst-filled life and making him a troubled delinquent who Barry Allen tries to reach out for and help as a favour to his friend Iris. Wally is almost made completely unrecognizable as his previous self, and the story, with his previous, more fun personality and positive relationship with Barry and the Flash now gone, leading to accusations of racism.
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[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/TheBlindSide'' has a privileged white housewife who takes pity on a BigScaryBlackMan and helps him become a professional football player. It's BasedOnATrueStory; the project was partly mentored by said pro football player who did not approve of the end product, especially in the way the family "taught" him how to play football, which he declares is something he came into their lives already great at.
* ''Film/DangerousMinds'': Michelle Pfeiffer teaches minority students in an inner city school, BasedOnATrueStory, though the real life version included a significant number of white students.
* In ''Film/RenaissanceMan'', Danny Devito teaches a class of mostly minority deadbeats in the armed forces.
* ''Hard Ball'' has Keanu Reaves teaching baseball to inner-city kids.
* In ''Film/FreedomWriters'', Erin Gruwell does this for a whole class of minorities and a TokenWhite.
* ''Film/FindingForrester'' has the white William Forrester inspire the black Jamal Wallace to write, and along the way Forrester learns about "the true value of friendship" and thinking for oneself.
** This is [[SubvertedTrope subverted]] however. Prior to his interaction with Forrester, Jamal was already portrayed as being intelligent and even accepted to a prestigious private school due to his standardized test scores. Forrester just happened to be the first person to actually challenge and critique Jamal's writing. At the same time, Jamal is able to coax Forrester out of being a recluse, making it more of a mutualistic relationship between the two.
* The Creator/RyanGosling film ''Half Nelson'' is a {{Deconstruction}} of this self-congratulatory genre. The hip white teacher (Gosling) turns out to be a drug addict and massive hypocrite, which only serves to alienate his black protege and push her into the arms of the neighborhood drug dealer (Creator/AnthonyMackie).
* Somewhat inverted in ''Film/ReignOverMe'', where Alan Johnson (played by DonCheadle) helps his former college roommate (Creator/AdamSandler) cope with the losses he suffered in the September11 terrorist attacks.
* ''Film/{{Glory}}'', another based-on-a-true-story film about the white officer commanding the first black regiment of the Union Army during the AmericanCivilWar.
* ''Film/TheLastSamurai'' is a case of counteracting the damaging influence of White Man's Burden... [[BrokenAesop from the point of view of a]] MightyWhitey.
* ''Film/TearsOfTheSun'', where a squad of White American SEALS (with the exception of one TokenBlack) save a bunch of Nigerian refugees from [[ScaryBlackMan evil Nigerian militants]].
* ''Film/TheBirthOfANation'' plays this to some extent really horribly, with Austin Stoneman's [[ScaryBlackMan mulatto protégé Silas]]. The writer of the original ''The Klansman'' novel, Thomas Dixon, believed that mixed-race people inherited the worst stereotypical personality traits of both races, so Austin Stoneman's treatment of Silas as an equal human being only fueled Silas' dark side.
* ''Film/TheSubstitute'' is an action movie take on the "white teacher challenges the inner-city kids." He's actually a mercenary who's investigating the attack on his teacher girlfriend, but along the way he manages to knock some sense into his class and helps take down the black principal's drug ring.
* ''The Principal'' has Jim Belushi taking on the gangs to clean up an inner-city high school.
* Done with a variation in ''Film/GloryRoad'' -- instead of a single underdog minority, it's an all-black starting lineup.
* ''Film/TheHelp'', based on a novel, features Skeeter helping black maids get recognition for their hard work.
* ''Film/TheSoloist'' is this trope, with RobertDowneyJr as a white journalist trying to help mentally ill, homeless black musical genius Ayers (Creator/JamieFoxx). Despite having an OscarBait feel to it, the film handles the trope pretty well, especially because of its BittersweetEnding.
* ''Film/{{Shooter}}'' zig-zags this trope: the BigBad sincerely states that White Man's Burden (in its original sense, see entry about Kipling's poem) was one of his main motivations and then he shows that even the best motivation is not mutually exclusive with blatantly unethical behavior.
* Played with in ''[[Film/FortyTwo 42]]''; while the movie focuses on Jackie Robinson's efforts, Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey is never far behind, either to support Robinson or to destroy all objections to Robinson's integration into Major League Baseball.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* The TropeNamer is the 1899 poem [[http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/kipling.html "The White Man's Burden"]] by Creator/RudyardKipling, the gist of which is that it's the responsibility of white Western nations to colonize the rest of the world and rule over it until it fully "develops", i.e. assimilates. The poem actually anticipates the colonized cultures' lack of gratitude for this "service", but portrays it as the cost of doing the right thing. He also states that white cultures have become more advanced by luck, rather than racial superiority. Some critics interpret it as a StealthParody, but overall it's a highly controversial poem.
** Kipling was quite explicitly telling Americans, "It's your turn now, and this is what you're letting yourselves in for. And ''we too'' will be watching and criticizing you!"
* ''TheSoloist'' is about a white journalist who finds and befriends a black homeless man, who turns out to be a former musical prodigy before developing schizophrenia.
* Creator/RobertSheckley's short story "Human Man's Burden" is a parody of this trope, using robots instead of some non-white ethnicity.
* [[SoapboxSadie Hermione's]] house-elf liberation subplot in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'' is basically this. It's portrayed in-universe as a bad thing, and she gets called on it by practically everyone. Even an inattentive reader can notice the inherent {{hypocri|te}}sy of her cause: launching a house-elf freedom campaign on her own for the benefit of other elves without so much as ''asking'' for their help, forcing them into unwanted freedom. She also bases her entire view of house-elves on Dobby, whose views on freedom, payment and clothing are ''quite'' different than the average elf. She also [[ComicallyMissingThePoint completely misses the point]] about why house-elves are unhappy: their working conditions, not the work itself or lack of pay, as house-elves normally [[HappinessInSlavery like to be enslaved]] and [[ValuesDissonance freedom is looked down upon]]. The house elves themselves find her crusade and methods (such as hiding clothing under trash so they will be freed upon picking it up) to be an insult to their race.
** Dobby himself mentions that when Dumbledore hired him he tried to give Dobby the same pay and benefits as an average human working schlub, and Dobby, insisting that he is unusual but not inelfin, talked him down to wages that are just short of slavery.
* Played absolutely straight in Kathryn Hulme's ''The Nun's Story'', where the Belgian missionary nuns see themselves as part of a greater civilizing force in the Congo.
* Referenced in the ''Literature/{{Hoka}}'' short stories, where the idea has been revived in the future as "spaceman's burden", the idea that humanity is obliged to Uplift any primitive species they come across and convert them to facsimiles of human culture. The protagonist's experiences with the results of introducing human culture to the eponymous overly-imaginative teddy bears indicates to him that this might not be the best idea (or actually possible) given physiological and fundamental psychological differences.
* The Literature/TortallUniverse series ''Literature/DaughterOfTheLioness'' has white Aly masterminding a revolution of [[FantasyCounterpartCulture Asian]] people. Some even go so far as to say she serves no real point to the story, and is stealing what should by all rights be the story of her friend Dove. In-universe, the luarin (white) royals and nobles have this view about the native raka as a partial justification for subjugating them, even though the raka had a well-established culture, architecture, and royal line previous to the invasion.
* ''TheAbsolutelyTrueDiaryOfAPartTimeIndian:'' During a funeral for Arnold's grandmother, a wealthy white collector of Indian art makes an appearance to return a powwow dance outfit he claims belonged to her. Though his manner of speech is polite, his tone is very condescending, calling the man who previously offered him the outfit a "thief" and referring to Arnold's mother as "dearest daughter". It is made quite obvious that he expects the Indians to be grateful to him for returning the outfit, but they instead turn him down politely.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Parodied in a ''Series/{{MADtv}}'' sketch called [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVF-nirSq5s "Nice White Lady"]], imitating all the stories of nice white teacher ladies who help inner-city kids turn their lives around.
* Lampshaded in the ''{{Frasier}}'' episode "Dr. Mary''. Frasier hires an African-American call-screener who takes over his show by calling herself "Dr. Mary", spouting ghetto-psychology; but he's afraid to say anything because she's black and came from an underprivileged background. Eventually she gets her own show spouting more ghetto-psychology, but finds out about his guilt and tells him, "God bless your guilty white ass!"
* On ''[[ThirdRockFromTheSun 3rd Rock From The Sun]]'', when Dick discovered white guilt, he tried to be this to Nina. When Nina asked him if he was going to be the enlightened white man showing her the way, he [[DoesNotUnderstandSarcasm missed the sarcasm]] and replied [[InsultBackfire "You know me so well!"]]
* The premise of ''DiffrentStrokes'' is a wealthy white man taking in two black inner city kids. "Now the world don't move to the beat of just one drum..."
* In ''Series/HarrysLaw'', a white liberal lawyer, tired of the kind of work that made her rich, decides to set up in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood. She and her white colleagues fix these poor black folks' problems.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode 'Human Nature' the Doctor is turned into a human, and given the memories of 1913 school teacher John Smith. This includes ValuesDissonance for the time period, unfortunately enough for his black companion Martha Jones, who is pretending to be his servant. He takes it as his duty to help this poor black lady; when she starts saying that he's ''not'' human, but an alien, and they're being attacked, his reaction is to teach her that this is "what we call a story". She slaps him for that.
* Like many race-related tropes, this is deconstructed brutally in ''TheWire''. Roland Pryzbelewski, a cop-turned-teacher and [[TheAtoner Atoner]], tries to invoke this trope with a bright but troubled student named Duquan "Dukie", washing his clothes for him and letting him into the school early to use the locker room showers. Eventually, however, Prez is forced to reconcile the fact that, as a teacher in inner-city Baltimore, he can't try to fix every damaged individual in his classes, and by the season finale he regretfully observes Dukie's descent into addiction.
* Parodied in an episode of ''ThirtyRock'', where after a misunderstanding, Liz comes to believe that Tracy is illiterate. She bends over backwards trying to make things easier for Tracy, and at the end of the show it's revealed that Tracy can read just fine and has been screwing with Liz for his own amusement. When she asks why, he points out that her smug white savior attitude is itself quite racist.
** Also parodied in the fictional films that Tracy proclaims to be an expert in starring in.
* Parodied in a ''[[ThatMitchellAndWebbLook Mitchell and Webb Look]]'' sketch about an episode of a [[ShowWithinAShow fictitious show]] called ''Speedo''. The episode is supposed to revolve around a rich white lawyer who tries to help a young black kid accused of a murder he didn't commit, but becomes a BrokenAesop [[CharacterOutlivesActor when the actor playing Speedo dies and the character is recast]] as [[RaceLift another black guy]]... without changing any of the lines that acknowledge the supposed race barrier between them.
* The Season 3 finale of ''Series/GameOfThrones'' has come under fire for this, with the final scene showing Daenerys [[spoiler: crowd-surfing over a bunch of black and brown slaves she just liberated as they lovingly chant "Mother!" at her]]. Considering that she's currently on a conquering spree across Essos and has just taken their city, these former slaves may just be [[GenreSavvy savvy enough]] to realise that free or not, this [[BenevolentAlienInvasion benevolent conqueror]] with the large army and dragons at her command is ''still'' going to be their "master" at the end of the day. This is also something of a case of {{Real Life Writes The Plot}}, as the scene was filmed in Morocco and white extras (as were seen in the book's equivalent scene) simply weren't available.
** Note that in [[Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire the books]], the slaves are by no means uniformly brown. Some are even Valyrian in looks--silver-haired and purple-eyed, like Daenerys herself.
** This applies to Daenerys's story in general even without this scene. From teaching her initially savage rapist husband to be a gentle lover with her Western values to travelling across Essos liberating slave cities, this is essentially the running theme in her story.
* The pilot of ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' features a team of (mostly) white government types trying to help working class AngryBlackMan, because he was screwed over by his white manager. Later episodes are better about avoiding this.
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]''TabletopGame/{{Space 1889}}'' most white people believe in this (though Kipling's poem hasn't been published yet in 1889).
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* Zachary Hale Comstock of ''VideoGame/BioShockInfinite'' is a believer of this, and takes it well past the point of UnfortunateImplications and into outright rationalization of slavery, detesting UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln for emancipating blacks from what he percieves as their "rightful place". He believes that, as the only animal born free, it is the white man's duty to shepherd and nurture all other races.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' plays with this on a few occasions.
** This is more or less what [[EvilOverlord Walhart]] wants to do on a ''global'' scale. Since his Valmese Empire is the strongest and most advanced nation on the land, he wants to make everyone a part of it so that they can share in its prosperity... ''[[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans by conquering the shit out of them]]''. By the time he's introduced to the plot, he's already conquered one land (full of FantasyCounterpartCulture French and Japanese) and is moving on to the one the heroes are from (which consist mostly of FantasyCounterpartCulture European, Arabic, and Black people).
** While it's race-inverted, this was the original goal of [[spoiler:''[[DiskOneFinalBoss Gan]][[ScaryBlackMan grel]]'']]. Because everyone on his continent was getting worried about Walhart above, [[spoiler:Gangrel]] got the bright idea to match him strength-for-strength by forging his ''own'' empire to protect the land in the event of Walhart invading. However, while he started out with noble intentions, he [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope couldn't keep his ambition in check]], [[AmbitionIsEvil became a slave to it]] [[YouAreWhatYouHate and ended up as exactly the same kind of tyrant Walhart was]]. [[spoiler:In his supports, he tries to seek atonement but ultimately believes that he's crossed so many lines that he just can't go back]].
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[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''{{Homestuck}}'': the Beforan society, in which the higher-caste trolls were expected to take care of the lower-caste trolls, has hints of this trope, with Kankri actually mentioning "blue blood's burden" by name. Cronus in particular seems to think he should be rewarded just for stooping to treat the lower castes as equals.
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[[folder:Web Original]]
* The Website/{{Cracked}} parody, ''WebVideo/ATrailerForEveryAcademyAwardWinningMovieEver'' has [[WhiteMaleLead Wealthy, Successful Protagonist]] trying to teach a Latino student to believe in himself, being a lawyer for an African-American man, and fighting with the "Native American metaphor" against the "US military metaphor".
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', this is the Fire Nation's official reason for conquering and colonizing the rest of the world: they want to "share their greatness" with the rest of the world. Certainly, Ozai doesn't care about that and just wants to be [[AGodAmI the supreme ruler of everything]], but that was [[WellIntentionedExtremist Firelord Sozin]]'s reason for beginning the war in the first place. Eventually, [[spoiler:Zuko]] realizes 1) that this "sharing" philosophy is a total lie--the Fire Nation is not sharing anything but fear and suffering and 2) how wrong this philosophy is by itself.
** Though the comic tie-in ''The Promise'' plays it oddly straight: one of the original Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom has now become fully assimilated with citizens of both countries living together peacefully and numerous romantic relationships between them, leading to children who are proud of having both countries in their heritage. But you'll still never see a Fire Nation citizen shining the shoes of someone from the Earth Kingdom, something that is blithely glossed over and never brought up again.
*** The trope is [[ZigZaggingTrope tossed back and forth]] in the comic really. While there is some inequality, the leader of the Fire Nation recognises that the inequality isn't good and would prefer it fixed. Yet its also pointed out that while he disagrees with it on principle, it's true that the war, as horrible as it was, did legitimately improve some things. The people of the joint colony are living better lives than they would have been a hundred years ago, which to him justifies an unequal social ladder that could at least be fixed with time.
* Similar to above, in ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011,'' the Cats believe that they were the ones who defeated Mumm-Ra and brought order to the land, and now preserve that order through their strength. While they were right about one Cat defeating Mumm-Ra, the rest is just an excuse to oppress the other races of Third Earth, and in the end it ends up getting Thundera destroyed once Mumm-Ra returns and recruits the lizard race to his side.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' lampoons the ''Film/DangerousMinds'' example (alongside a more recent example with a Hispanic man as the teacher) in "Eek! A Penis!" by, instead of actually teaching those students math, he teaches them how to successfully ''cheat'' on the tests.
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