Stacey Dooley hits back at MP Lammy's Comic Relief 'white saviour' criticism

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Stacey Dooley has challenged MP David Lammy after he said "the world does not need any more white saviours" following her Comic Relief posts from Africa.

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?"

She's posted images on Instagram of her holding a young Ugandan child.

Mr Lammy said: "This isn't personal and I don't question your good motives."

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The Labour MP for Tottenham added: "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."

Dooley, who recently won Strictly Come Dancing and has made documentaries for the BBC on topics including fast fashion and an Isis sex slave, said: "Comic Relief have raised over £1bn since they started. I saw projects that were saving lives with the money. Kids' lives."

Mr Lammy also appeared on BBC Two's Victoria Derbyshire programme, saying: "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.

"The charity is doing very little to educate the public," he added, talking about the "emerging middle class in Africa."

Image caption,
Ed Sheeran visited Liberia as part of Comic Relief 2017

He said Dooley has "done some fantastic journalism", but that "the image she wants to promote is her as heroine and black child as victim".

Mr Lammy added that he thought Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis should "use the platform responsibly".

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."

Last year Mr Lammy said in a BBC video that African people were "equals to be respected, not as victims to be pitied".

In 2017, Ed Sheeran's video from Africa for Comic Relief was handed a "Rusty Radiator" award, given to the "most offensive and stereotypical fundraising video of the year".

Challenge to be 'responsible'

Comic Relief chief Liz Warner told The Guardian earlier that year that films for Comic and Sport Relief would depict "people talking in the first person in their own voices, with local heroes and local heroines talking to us about the work they're doing".

She said the award for Sheeran's video, "rightly challenges organisations like Comic Relief to be as responsible, fresh and relevant as possible when conveying our issues".

"That's a challenge we have always tried to meet and will continue to do so, perhaps now with a little extra energy."

She added: "We're grateful to Ed Sheeran for his time and commitment, to the people who've given money and to the people who run the projects we support. And we really hope that we don't win this award again."

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