Stacey Dooley defends Comic Relief trip to Uganda after 'white saviour' row

'I'm not willing to justify myself to those who have already made up their mind'

Sarah Young
Friday 14 June 2019 11:34
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Fewer Comic Relief appeals to be based on celebrities going abroad, says Richard Curtis

Stacey Dooley has defended her work with Comic Relief, saying her intentions were never “sinister”.

In February, the Strictly Come Dancing winner faced criticism after taking part in a campaign for the children’s charity which saw her meet local residents in Uganda.

After posting a photograph on Instagram of herself holding a young boy during her trip to Africa alongside the caption “OB.SESSSSSSSSSSED”, Labour MP David Lammy accused the presenter of perpetuating “tired and unhelpful stereotypes”.

“The world does not need any more white saviours,” Lammy 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.”

Many others agreed with Lammy, with some questioning her intentions and whether she even had permission to take a photograph with the child.

On Thursday, Dooley found herself the target of criticism once again after sharing a new photograph of her flashing a peace sign with a woman in Nigeria.

“At least this black person is old enough to consent to being in a photo with you,” one follower commented on the image.

In response, Dooley slammed the idea that her selfies were “sinister” and said she will not justify her actions any longer.

“I understand that some are saying they feel it’s a tired narrative…I get that. What is not OK is people making out like we were somehow sinister in our approach,” the 32-year-old wrote.

Referring to the photograph of the boy featured in the original image during her Comic Relief visit, Dooley added: “It’s completely untrue to suggest we didn’t ask for consent. We spent the day with his grandad. He has a working relationship with Comic Relief.

“I'm willing to listen and learn, however I'm not willing to feel I have to justify myself to those who have already made up their mind, based on info they've been fed, by people who weren't there.”

Dooley continued by saying her main priority was that the people she met were happy with her behaviour and that she has taken on board what critics have to say.

”Essentially, what I'm saying is, of course everyone is entitled to their opinion and to voice concerns. But please make sure you have the information and you're not making comments based on assumption x x,” the presenter concluded.

On Tuesday, Comic Relief’s co-founder, screenwriter Richard Curtis, told MPs that future fundraising initiatives “will not be based on celebrities going abroad”, describing the issue as “really complicated”.

“We feel this desperate passionate need to raise as much money as we can,” the Notting Hill writer said while giving evidence in front of the International Development Committee, adding: “but if we’re doing harm as well then that won’t do”.

Lammy praised Curtis’ comments on Twitter, writing: “Looks like Comic Relief are finally ready to listen to hundreds of thousands of my constituents and others who support aid but want to move on from the tired, harmful stereotypes and tropes that surround it and prevent genuine equity and partnership."

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