Labour MP David Lammy accused Stacey Dooley of perpetuating “tired and unhelpful stereotypes” after she travelled to Africa for an upcoming Comic Relief documentary.
The Strictly Come Dancing winner shared pictures on her social media from Uganda, with one snap showing her posing with a young child while another showed her during filming ahead of Red Nose Day.
Mr Lammy, who has been the MP for Tottenham since 2010, said on Twitter the 31-year-old investigative reporter was reinforcing unhelpful stereotypes about Africa.
He said: “The world does not need any more white saviours. 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.”
Mr Lammy said his issue was not “personal” with Dooley and that he does not question her “good motives”.
Instead, he said he had a problem with “British celebrities” being flown out to Africa by Comic Relief to make films which send “a distorted image” of the continent and perpetuate “an old idea from the colonial era”.
Dooley replied and invited Mr Lammy to travel to Africa himself.
She said: “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.”
Mr Lammy, who is of Guyanese descent, said “many black” Britons are “deeply uncomfortable” with Comic Relief’s “poverty porn”.
He said: “Comic Relief has a huge platform and privilege and it is the first and major way children learn about Africa. If they only show Africans as helpless victims to be pitied, children miss the broader picture of huge progress in Africa.
“Comic Relief should be helping to establish an image of African people as equals to be respected rather than helpless victims to be pitied. It would therefore be better for people who actually live there to speak about the continent they know.
“Many black Brits feel deeply uncomfortable with Comic Relief’s poverty porn. It’s my job to represent their views however uncomfortable. They want their children to have rounded views about Africa and these types of campaign woefully fail to do that.”
This is not the first time Comic Relief has been accused of perpetuating the white saviour trope.
In March last year the charity said celebrities would take a backseat on on-location appeals following complaints about “poverty tourism”.
Ed Sheeran had previously been criticised for reinforcing white saviour stereotypes during a visit to Liberia.
Comic Relief has been contacted for comment. Red Nose Day takes place on March 15.