Dooley accused of being a “white saviour” over Comic Relief film

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"That image evokes  a colonial image of a white beautiful heroine holding a black child, with no agency, no parents in sight"

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28th February 2019 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Strictly Come Dancing champ Stacey Dooley has been accused of acting like a “white saviour” during her work with Comic Relief in Africa.

She posted pictures of herself on Instagram with young children in her arms, which were taken while she was filming for the fundraiser.

However, Labour MP David Lammy said this supported “tired and unhelpful” stereotypes, displaying “white saviour complex”.

He said: “My problem with British celebrities being flown out by Comic Relief to make these films is that it sends a distorted image of Africa which perpetuates an old idea from the colonial era."

Lammy’s comments open an old debate which has haunted the international aid sector, over wealthy, often white, celebrities being flown to the developing world to front campaigns.

They have been accused of indulging in “poverty porn” – with a film for Comic Relief by Ed Sheeran drawing particularly harsh criticism from an aid watchdog.

In response, the fundraiser – which runs Red Nose Day and Sorts Relief - said it was moving away from having white celebs front its appeals and would instead balance stories of poverty and need with more optimistic narratives.

However, Dooley – known for her bold investigative journalism – was in Uganda to filming for the charity, when she posed a series of pictures on Instagram.

In response, Tottenham MP Lammy later elaborated: "Charity is a good thing, all of us understand that, but how we do charity is important.

"Comic Relief is a 20-year-old formula that asks comedians to perform and sends celebrities - most often white - out to Africa, and that image evokes for lots of ethnic minorities in Britain, a colonial image of a white beautiful heroine holding a black child, with no agency, no parents in sight.”

He added that his comments are not personal about Dooley, who he said has "done some fantastic journalism".

Dooley responded, tweeting: She tweeted: "David, is the issue with me being white? (Genuine question)... because if that's the case, you could always go over there and try raise awareness?"

Comic Relief said in a statement: "We are really grateful that Stacey Dooley, an award-winning and internationally acclaimed documentary-maker, agreed to go to Uganda to discover more about projects the British people have funded there and make no apologies for this.

"She has filmed and reported on challenging issues all over the world, helping to put a much-needed spotlight on issues that affect people's lives daily.

"In her film, people working with or supported by Comic Relief projects tell their own stories in their own words. We have previously asked David Lammy if he would like to work with us to make a film in Africa and he has not responded. The offer is still open."

1st March 2019 by Lok Yue

"Comic Relief is a 20-year-old formula that asks comedians to perform and sends celebrities - most often white - out to Africa, and that image evokes for lots of ethnic minorities in Britain, a colonial image of a white beautiful heroine holding a black child, with no agency, no parents in sight.” Says David Lamy. Couple of points. The CR formula may be 20 years old but it works, spectacularly well. Secondly, given that the 2011 census showed that 85% of the UK population was white and only 3% black why should it be a surprise that most CR 'ambassadors' were white? Thirdly, if Mr. Lamy is so against 'white saviours' (his term) perhaps we should support him and the white population of this country stop donating to CR etc, turn our backs on africa's problems and leave properly qualified people like Mr. Lamy to sort things out