Skip to main content
singer169_BSIPUIG via Getty Images_white saviour BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Who Needs More White Saviors?

Very few people in need care about the color of the skin of the people who direct the organizations helping them. If the goal is to help those living in extreme poverty, we need all the saviors we can find.

PRINCETON – Comic Relief is a British charity that raises money for disadvantaged people both in the United Kingdom and overseas. Every two years, it holds Red Nose Day, when supporters wear red clown noses. The day culminates in a TV extravaganza featuring comedians and celebrities. This year, Red Nose Day raised £63.5 million ($83.5 million) – a lot of money, but down nearly £8 million from two years ago.

Two weeks earlier, David Lammy, the Member of Parliament for Tottenham, had criticized Comic Relief for flying Stacey Dooley, an English television presenter, to Uganda, where she was photographed holding an African child. Lammy, who is black, tweeted “The world does not need any more white saviors,” adding that the image “perpetuates tired and unhelpful stereotypes.” Instead, he suggested, we should “promote voices from across the continent of Africa.”

On British television, Lammy granted that charity is a good thing, but said: “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.”

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/IzpItaw;
  1. roubini130_GettyImages_iphonehandstealingpiggybank Getty Images

    The Great Crypto Heist

    Nouriel Roubini

    Cryptocurrencies have given rise to an entire new criminal industry, comprising unregulated offshore exchanges, paid propagandists, and an army of scammers looking to fleece retail investors. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence of rampant fraud and abuse, financial regulators and law-enforcement agencies remain asleep at the wheel.

  2. ghosh11_GettyImages_thiefworldmoneybag Getty Images

    The Exploitation Time Bomb

    Jayati Ghosh

    Worsening economic inequality in recent years is largely the result of policy choices that reflect the political influence and lobbying power of the rich. There is now a self-reinforcing pattern of high profits, low investment, and rising inequality – posing a threat not only to economic growth, but also to democracy.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.