February 28, 2019
"My problem is that it sends a distorted image of Africa perpetuating an old idea from the colonial era.”
Stacey Dooley has been accused of perpetuating “tired and unhelpful stereotypes” after travelling to Africa for an upcoming Comic Relief documentary.
Earlier this week, the Strictly Come Dancing winner shared pictures from her trip to Uganda on social media, with one snap showing her posing with a young child alongside the caption: “OBSESSSSSSSSSSED.”
Stacey Dooley’s Comic Relief Filming Criticised By MP David Lammy In ‘White Saviourism’ Row
Sharing a news article about Stacey’s posts, Labour MP David Lammy wrote: “The world does not need any more white saviours.
“As I’ve said before, this just perpetuates tired and unhelpful stereotypes. Let’s instead promote voices from across the continent of Africa and have serious debate.”
His tweet soon began receiving attention and was spotted by Stacey herself, who replied online.
“David, is the issue with me being white? (Genuine question)” she wrote. “Because if that’s the case, you could always go over there and try raise awareness?
“Comic relief have raised over 1 billion pounds since they started. I saw projects that were saving lives with the money. Kids lives.” [sic]
Lammy’s reply was just as speedy, as he wrote back: “Hi @StaceyDooley. This isn’t personal and I don’t question your good motives.
“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.”
Sharing a link to an article he wrote on the topic back in March 2017, Lammy added: “Comic Relief has a huge platform and privilege and it is the first and major way children learn about Africa.
“If they only show Africans as helpless victims to be pitied, children miss the broader picture of huge progress in Africa.”
Stacey Dooley’s Comic Relief Filming Criticised By MP David Lammy In ‘White Saviourism’ Row
“Many black Brits feel deeply uncomfortable with Comic Relief’s poverty porn. It’s my job to represent their views however uncomfortable,” he said. “They want their children to have rounded views about Africa and these types of campaign woefully fail to do that.”
On Thursday morning, Comic Relief released a statement on the matter, in which they say they are “really grateful” to Stacey for going to Uganda for filming and “make no apologies for this”.
They also add: “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.”
Lammy then responded to this claim with a lengthy string of tweets, writing: “We had two meetings in my office. I had hoped - and still hope - your coverage would improve but Stacey’s post was more of the same tried tropes.
“As I told you before, I’m not prepared to become part of a PR exercise.
“It’s not about me making a nice film, but about you giving some of your very privileged platform on the BBC to the hundreds of African comedians, filmmakers, celebrities and everyday people who live on the continent.
“My job as a politician is to raise the issue. The people of Africa do not need a British politician to make a film.
“I want African people to speak for themselves, not UK celebs acting as tour guides.”
“Comic relief has a privileged platform because of its unique access to the BBC,” he continued. “My constituents pay that license fee too. You and the BBC have a public duty to educate and promote racial equality.
“Previous Comic Relief films have fallen short of this.”
This isn’t the first time Comic Relief has been accused of perpetuating the white saviour trope and in March last year, the charity said celebrities would take a backseat on on-location appeals following complaints about “poverty tourism”.
Red Nose Day takes place on Friday 15 March and celebrities involved in fundraising include Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, who will doing a 24-hour dance-a-thon.
Meanwhile, a seriously tough group of celebs are currently making their way up Mount Kilimanjaro and are due to reach the summit on Friday.
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