'If the issue is that I'm white... you could always go': Stacey Dooley hits back in 'no more white saviours' row after MP David Lammy slams her on Twitter for encouraging stereotypes by travelling to Uganda for Comic Relief

Stacey Dooley, 31, is filming a documentary in Uganda with charity Comic Relief

28 February 2019 - 11:08

Stacey Dooley is today at the centre of an extraordinary race row with Labour MP David Lammy after he said her Comic Relief trip to Uganda is part of Britain's 'white saviour' complex in Africa. 

The 31-year-old investigative reporter and Strictly star was involved in a Twitter spat with Mr Lammy over her charity documentary and hit back: 'If the issue is that I'm white... you could always go'. 

Mr Lammy rebuked her for appearing in a programme in Uganda which he says promotes 'tired and unhelpful stereotypes' and encourages a 'white saviour' complex - but insisted his attack was not personal. 

Strictly star, Miss Dooley is in Africa filming for the charity and posted pictures on Instagram of local women dancing and of children hugging her.

However, the Tottenham MP accused Miss Dooley of showing a 'distorted image of Africa' and perpetuating a 'colonial era' mentality that suggests white people are the solution to poverty in deprived parts of the world.

Mr Lammy, 46, acknowledged Miss Dooley's 'good motives' but bemoaned the British celebrity trope of travelling to Africa to film charity appeals.

Miss Dooley, whose documentary focuses on Malaria and neonatal clinics, responded to the MPs twitter remarks and highlighted the £1billion raised by Comic Relief since it was founded in 1985 by the comedian Lenny Henry.

Labour MP David Lammy criticised Stacey Dooley for appearing in a Comic Relief documentary in Uganda which promotes 'tired and unhelpful stereotypes' and for encouraging a 'white saviour' complex
Documentary maker Stacey Dooley has been criticised for not meeting up with a No White Saviours group while on a charity trip to Uganda

Labour MP David Lammy criticised Stacey Dooley for appearing in a Comic Relief documentary in Uganda which promotes 'tired and unhelpful stereotypes' and for encouraging a 'white saviour' complex 

Dooley, 31, is currently filming with Comic Relief about neonatal clinics and malaria in Uganda

Dooley, 31, is currently filming with Comic Relief about neonatal clinics and malaria in Uganda

Mr Lammy did acknowledge Miss Dooley's 'good motives' but bemoaned the British celebrity trope of travelling to poorer parts of Africa to film Comic Relief packages

Mr Lammy did acknowledge Miss Dooley's 'good motives' but bemoaned the British celebrity trope of travelling to poorer parts of Africa to film Comic Relief packages

Writing on social media, Mr Lammy said: 'The world doesn't need anymore white saviours. As I've said before, this just perpetuates tired and unhelpful stereotypes.'

The MP added: 'Let's promote voices from across the continent of Africa and have a serious debate.'

Addressing Miss Dooley directly, he said: '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.' 

Miss Dooley replied: '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 [sic]?

'I saw projects that were saving lives with the money. Kids lives.' 

Mr Lammy added that it's 'complacent to suggest that colonial attitudes are dead', and pointed to the Oxfam scandal, where white aid workers volunteering in Haiti sexually exploited women living in desperate poverty.  

The debate comes against a broader backdrop of criticism against the Comic Relief for promoting 'poverty porn', and in 2018 charity bosses said they would stop using celebrities such as Ed Sheeran and Eddie Redmayne in future appeals. 

Liz Warner, CEO of Comic Relief, said the organisation had taken its 'first steps' towards change after Mr  Lammy slammed the charity for portraying Africa as a continent of poverty-stricken victims and stereotypes.

Aid watchdog SAIH also criticised a video of pop star Sheeran meeting a street boy in Liberia and offering to pay for his housing.

Ms Warner said Comic Relief had replaced celebrity storytellers with Africans, following a record-breaking 24-hour telethon that raised £55.4million in 2016. 

Yesterday activists for the 'No White Saviours' group pleaded with the journalist to meet them, claiming that they could 'educate her' on 'colonial era' stereoptypes.  

The group posted messages on her Instagram saying: 'When you come to our country and decide to perpetuate a certain narrative we really want to help you understand why this is harmful.'

The group post on their website and social media about white saviourism - linking to articles about white mothers adopting African children, and criticising charity workers who have a white savior complex.  

Miss Dooley started her career as a documentary maker in 2009 with her series Stacey Dooley investigates, looking at subjects such as sex trafficking in Cambodia and homelessness. 

She went on to appear in last years Strictly Come Dancing, where she won the show with dance partner Kevin Clifton. 

She also released her paperback version of her book Stacey's On The Front Line this month, which takes a look at some of the people she's met during her time as a documentary-maker.    

 

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