Comic Relief “acknowledges” it’s White Saviour Complex

Written by on 18/11/2020


Firstly let’s define White Saviour – it refers to a white person who provides help to non-white people in a self-serving manner.

Secondly whats the gist – Well, Sir Lenny Henry has confirmed that his Comic Relief charity will no longer send white celebrities to Africa after it was accused of perpetuating the ‘white saviour’ stereotype.

Welcoming the move to stop the campaign films, Sir Lenny said: ‘A lot has changed over Comic Relief’s 35 years, and so the way we raise money and talk about the issues we are here to tackle, and the people we are here to support, must change as well.

‘I think on certain issues right now, like representation, amplifying black voices and diversity, there’s a real sense of reflection and looking inwards, and asking ourselves what can we do to learn and grow too.’

The comedian, who co-founded Comic Relief in 1985 with filmmaker Richard Curtis, added that he was ‘proud’ the charity are making the changes and he is ‘looking forward to seeing the films next year’.

Now – who remembers the Comic Relief yearly show? Where they would send a few celebrities to a “troubled” part of Africa and have them “live and dwell” in an impoverished climate, to tug at the hear stings of the British people to support raising money for the continent? We are The Black Card Talks do and we absolutely hated it and here is why…

It wasn’t just Comic Relief! Oxfam, Action Aid, every charity did it? They will show pictures of a child with a pop belly or worse hardly any flesh at all and ask us to donate £2 a month to feed, water and cloth an African baby who’s mother had died of Cholera. Whilst the sentiment of supporting charity was well meaning the means was incredibly distasteful. It caused around 2 generations of African people to grow up in the UK trying to prove that not all Africans lived like that. I am not sure about you but I tried everything, showing pictures of google, introducing them to music everything, and it wasn’t just White people I had to do this to, it was Caribbeans as well. The wave of misinformation those adverts and therefore those organisations caused and responsible have greatly contributed to the sorrow felt for that continent and the lack of hope in it’s future. Quite simply organisations like this have contributed to the isolated image many British people have of Africa. A continent in constant need of a hand out.

Couple this with the lack of education that is received on the history of Africa, the pillaging of its resources from the very countries professing the need for a hand out and what do you have? A White Saviour.

We all now probably know a White friend that has been to Africa, maybe for around 8 weeks, stayed in a village, watered some crops “taught English” and in the most extreme cases dug a well. If you don’t I probably know enough for you.

As you can see the narrative lives on, but the reason this is monumental is that an end is being put to it from one of the initial sources. Lenny Henry explicitly said that we are in an age where things are changing and we need to amplify Black Voices. This means he’s passing the mic! It is time for those affected to tell their story with the same objectives the charity was set out to achieve. But this change means we can hear the stories of what needs to happen, what is being done, why it is taking so long rather than focus on the sorrow of what is happening. Organisations like Comic Relief need to ensure they are telling the whole story should they wish to engage with the narrative, it is their duty.

Showcase Africa for what it is, not just what it isn’t!

2020 has redefined journalistic integrity and we at The Black Card talks cannot wait to see how they do it in 2021! We hope that they do not send Black British celebrities instead because that would be a big L, in what currently looks like #DubNation for Africa and it’s diaspora but I guess we will have to wait and see.

Watch this space we will be sure to keep you updated during the next Comic Relief season.

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