's latest book, No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality
, draws in part from his career as a reporter and TV producer — work that has taken him to sites of grassroots struggle around the world, but it's anchored in his home, New Orleans.
Mixed in with the movement for indigenous self-determination in Black Mesa and sex workers contesting the police state in Arizona are multiple local stories. Flaherty gives us a front-row seat for the cautionary tale of FBI snitch Brandon Darby, one of two white bros who came here from Austin and rose to power through Common Ground, living out the savior complex by launching a career at immense cost to the people he claimed to be rescuing and representing. On a more positive note, Flaherty also tells the story of the New Teachers' Roundtable, a New Orleans collective founded by three former Teach for America participants to push back against TFA and the charter school movement — educational "reforms" which function as a profitable large-scale weaponization of the savior complex.
The crux of this wide-ranging book is finding alternatives to activism's savior mentality, that hero model in which a person of privilege uses their genius or other exceptional qualities to "rescue" the less fortunate.
I came to Flaherty's book with wariness, braced for scolding — but instead found No More Heroes
to be full of love and compassion, including towards those who fall into the traps of saviordom.
At 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, the Community Book Center
(2523 Bayou Road.) will host one of a series of book release events Flaherty has organized across the South, previewed here by Kat Stromquist
Flaherty advocates going from "How can I be the single best white anti-racist activist with the sharpest critique / most specialized language / busiest schedule?" to "How can we find ways to bring more and more people into social justice work, from lots of entry points, to grow vibrant mass movements?" To clarify the answers, I sat down with Flaherty to discuss his book, journalism and activism.