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'Is the issue with me being white?': Row breaks out over BBC presenter's social media posts from Africa

A Labour MP has accused Comic Relief of sending a “distorted image” of Africa.

Image: Instagram/SJDooley

A ROW HAS broken out in the United Kingdom after a politician accused a BBC documentary-maker of sending a “distorted image” of Africa in her social media posts.

Labour MP David Lammy’s comments came after journalist Stacey Dooley attracted criticism for her Instagram posts in Uganda, where she posed with local children whom she met while filming a Comic Relief documentary.

One post showed Doooley holding a toddler, with a caption claiming she was “obsessed” with the child.

Commenters argued that the 31 year-old was using children as “props”, that her posts came across as “self-righteous” and that they deflected praise from local workers and NGOs in developing countries.

The outlook was echoed by Lammy yesterday, when he called for the promotion of more African voices and a debate on how to create awareness about issues affecting the continent.

“The world does not need any more white saviours,” he said in a tweet, referring to a term used for western people who attempt to ‘fix’ the problems of struggling nations without understanding their history, needs, or the state of affairs in the region.

Those accused of being white saviours are seen to put their personal development at the centre of their efforts, rather than a genuine effort to help.

Commenters also tagged the Instagram page NoWhiteSaviors in Dooley’s posts, whose profile reads: “We never said ‘no white people’. We just know you shouldn’t be the hero of the story.”

But Dooley defended the work of Comic Relief and asked Lammy whether the controversy had come about because of the colour of her skin.

“David, is the issue with me being white?” she said. “Because if that’s the case, you could always go over there and try raise awareness?”

Dooley tweet Source: Twitter/@StaceyDooley

In response, Lammy said that while his comment wasn’t personal and that he recognised the work of Comic Relief, he felt that it was a problematic way to create awareness.

“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,” he said.

It isn’t the first time that Comic Relief has attracted controversy for its celebrity endorsements.

In 2017, a video featuring Ed Sheeran was given a “Rusty Radiator” award, which are given for fundraising campaigns which focus on stereotypes “considered offensive”.

The head of the charity, Liz Warner, appeared to accept the award, telling The Guardian that the video “rightly challenged” organisations like Comic Relief to be responsible, fresh and relevant when conveying their issues.

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