Stacey Dooley has been embroiled in a row about perpetuating negative stereotypes of Africa after a photo she released of her Comic Relief trip to Uganda.
Labour MP was one of the first to condemn the photograph as encouraging a “white saviour” complex after she was pictured holding a black child as she campaigned for the children’s charity and met locals in the country.
Lammy took to Twitter to criticise the image – and what it inadvertently presented.
“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 responded to his comments: “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.
The back-and-forth continued, with Lammy explaining that his comments were not “personal,” nor did he question her “motives.” Nevertheless, a white woman travelling to Africa and embracing black babies is an image that has haunted Africa for many years.
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.”
The topic was picked up across TV shows and online as people discussed the photo.
Darren Styles, the owner of the UK’s biggest gay magazine told the MP to “go f**k yourself.”
The Attitude magazine owner tweeted in response to Lammy’s remark:
As a white man who has raised more than £350k for an AIDS charity to spend in Africa you can go f*** yourself.
I don’t see myself or anyone who has helped me as a saviour, let alone a white one. What a dreadful man, and what a horrible outlook on life. Sorry for him.
Some people shared similar views with Styles, and thought Lammy was being deliberately polarising
Others thought he'd made an important point about how Africa is often depicted - as homogenous and perpetually victimised
How people from other cultures and colours are covered in the press has been a topic of much discussion over the past few years. National Geographic’s Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg penned a detailed apology from the magazine after she asked a historian to investigate the paper’s coverage of people of colour in the US and abroad - and they concluded it was racist.
In the piece, she acknowledged:
How we present race matters. I hear from readers that National Geographic provided their first look at the world. Our explorers, scientists, photographers, and writers have taken people to places they’d never even imagined; it’s a tradition that still drives our coverage and of which we’re rightly proud. And it means we have a duty, in every story, to present accurate and authentic depictions—a duty heightened when we cover fraught issues such as race.
Appearing on Victoria Derbyshire to clarify his tweets, Lammy added:
That image evokes for lots and lots of minorities in Britain a colonial image, a white beautiful heroine holding a black child with no agency…completely supine.
People don’t realise that the black Diaspora in Britain send more money to Africa than the whole of the aid budget combined.
It says nothing about an emerging middle class in Africa. Nothing about growth in African countries. So the image is a perpetual image of people who are impoverished…the image.