Stacey Dooley in ‘white saviour’ row with David Lammy after visit to Uganda for Comic Relief

'You could always go over there and try raise awareness?'

Sarah Young
Thursday 28 February 2019 14:30
Stacey Dooley criticised for 'white saviour complex' Comic Relief trip to Uganda

Stacey Dooley has hit back after being accused of encouraging a “white saviour” complex over her Comic Relief trip to Africa.

The Strictly Come Dancing star took part in a campaign for the children’s charity this week, which saw her meet local residents in Uganda.

However, following the trip Dooley received criticism from Labour MP David Lammy who said she was perpetuating “tired and unhelpful stereotypes”.

“The world does not need any more white saviours,” he wrote on Twitter.

“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.”

Dooley hit back at the comments in a tweet, replying: “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 have raised over 1 billion pounds since they started. I saw projects that were saving lives with the money. Kids lives.”

In response, Lammy explained that his comments were not “personal” to the investigative reporter and that he does not question her “good motives”.

Instead, he said he took issue with the fact that British celebrities are flown out by Comic Relief to make these films which then send “a distorted image of Africa which perpetuates an old idea from the colonial era”.

Lammy wasn’t the only person to criticise Dooley. This week, the reporter posted a picture on Instagram of her holding a young child during her trip to Africa alongside the caption “OB.SESSSSSSSSSSED”.

Many users slammed her for using the child as an “accessory” and for playing on the “white saviour trend”.

“Would you pick up random white children in Europe and force them to be in your selfies, too? I feel like that wouldn‘t happen,” one person commented.

Another agreed, adding: “Stacey I love you but obsessed? They are not a fashion accessory. Maybe take a look at @nowhitesaviors I know it isn’t intentional but education is key.”

Dooley responded to the backlash on Instagram writing: “I’ve had numerous photos with children from Europe. Last year I was with Roma kids in Hungary and no one had any issue with these photos.

“Similarly, there’s pics of me on here with Iraqi kids living in a refugee camp. Again, no one seemed to mind these.

“We have verbal and written consent from their guardians to use their images and only if we’ve spent time filming with them do we ask. The Ugandan families also asked to take pictures with us.”

The reporter went on to say that the suggestion she would approach a child she did not have an existing relationship with and ask them to have a selfie was “ridiculous”.

“I’ve been working in Africa for nearly 12 years, I ask the locals and NGOs how I should behave. None of them here are upset with this photo,” she added.

“The little lad was perfectly happy. His grandad joked he’s often grumpy.”

This is not the first time Comic Relief has been accused of perpetuating the white saviour stereotype.

In March 2018 the charity announced that it would be using less celebrities in its appeals after they were described as “poverty tourism” by an aid watchdog.

The Independent has contacted Comic Relief for comment.

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