Wednesday 16 October 2019

Annie Lennox: I don’t feel I’m a ‘white saviour’ when I use my platform to help

The former Eurythmics star also spoke about the important of a new campaign on International Women’s Day.

Annie Lennox: I don’t feel I’m a white saviour (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Annie Lennox: I don’t feel I’m a white saviour (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Annie Lennox has said she does not feel she is “coming in as a white saviour” when helping charities such as Comic Relief, as she discussed recent comments made by Labour MP David Lammy.

Mr Lammy last week criticised the charity and its stars for perpetuating “tired and unhelpful stereotypes” after TV presenter Stacey Dooley travelled to Africa to film a campaign.

Lennox said the term “white saviour” used by Mr Lammy was “controversial”, but she has since spoken to him as she wants to “understand better” how to help people across the world as a white person.

The singer told ITV’s This Morning: “I don’t consider myself a celebrity – I think of myself as an artist and an activist, and I think we do have a platform.

“I have a history, I go way back with Comic Relief, and I have a whole history of activism and working on these issues.

“It’s true that some of us perhaps jump on to causes occasionally, and money is raised and made… and, I don’t know, it’s a very, very tricky one.

“I did speak to David Lammy personally, I had a conversation with him because I want to understand better – for my colour, that is white – how can I help my sisterhood, which is all colours, everywhere around the globe.

“How can I be part of a global sisterhood, which is what I think I’ve been doing, and I don’t feel that I’m coming in as a white saviour – I’m looking at ways to help women empower themselves.”

Asked by host Holly Willoughby if Mr Lammy was wrong to make the “white saviour” comment, Lennox said: “I think that it’s a very controversial term and I think that David is very angry and I think that his constituents… if they say they switch off Comic Relief, I think we really need to hear the voice of our population so that we can be responsive to that.”

Mr Lammy, who has been the MP for Tottenham since 2010, said on Twitter that investigative reporter Dooley was reinforcing unhelpful stereotypes about Africa, but his issue was not “personal”.

He later denied snubbing Comic Relief after the charity said he refused its offer to make a film in Africa, saying he had held two meetings with the organisation.

He claimed Comic Relief had “fallen short” of what he called its “public duty” to promote racial equality and serve minority communities.

Former Eurythmics star Lennox, 64, appeared on This Morning to talk about International Women’s Day on Friday, encouraging people to help the cause and support global feminism.

She said the annual day is significant in celebrating all that women have achieved over the past 100 years, but “there is so much disparity” around the world on women’s rights.

She said: “There is so much left to do, the facts are shocking. When you consider one in three women globally have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, it’s a massive statistic.

“Out of the 757 million illiterate adults in the world today, two out of three are women. And 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.”

Her appearance on the programme came as Lennox’s non-profit organisation The Circle, which she founded in 2008, announced its partnership with Apple Music for an International Women’s Day initiative.

Stars including Ed Sheeran, Mary J Blige, Dua Lipa and Richard E Grant have joined forces to appear in a short film for the cause, highlighting the “injustices still experienced by millions of women and girls the world over – from misogyny, rape and violence, to pay disparity”.

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