White savior complexes: not just for Barbie anymore.
Louise Linton, an actress from the UK who has appeared in bit parts in Cold Case, the 2016 remake of Cabin Fever, and Lions for Lambs, published a memoir in April called In Congo’s Shadow: One Girl’s Perilous Journey to the Heart of Africa. Her story attracted the attention of the Daily Telegraph, which released a piece she wrote with the eye-rolling title, “How my dream gap year in Africa turned into a nightmare.”
The Telegraph article includes some choice quotes:
An 18-year-old Scot and former pupil of the prestigious Fettes College, I had come to Africa with hopes of helping some of the world’s poorest people.
Should I stay and care for Zimba, risking my life? Or flee to the safety of my family and break her heart?
Whenever that happens, though, I try to remember a smiling gap-toothed child with HIV whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Jeeeeesus. There’s being insensitive with your language, and then there’s full blown “white person comes to save the children” stuff, and this definitely falls into the latter category. I haven’t cringed this hard since… well, since Donald Trump claimed the Star of David was a “sheriff’s star” a couple days ago.
The book’s Amazon page has been flooded with one-star reviews, with almost 90% of reviews giving it the lowest possible rating.
In addition to Linton’s creepy white savior thing, many of the reviews accuse her of outright fabricating details. According to reviewer Kabulonga, who claims to be a native Zambian, “At no time ever has there been child soldiers with machetes on… [Zambian] roadblocks.” Kabulonga goes on to conclude, “I decided to buy the book and realised it has been written by a deluded naïve girl from a privileged background who has embellished a short stay in Africa and has felt she has to make her story fit a stereotyped idea [the West] has of Africa.”
Whether Linton actually lied about anything, I can’t say. But if the Telegraph article is any guide, she certainly presents her story in the context of a voluntourist narrative.
Linton took to Twitter to defend herself. She has since deleted her account, but posted these tweets before doing so:
What do you think? Does Louise Linton have a white savior complex, or is this story overblown? Let us know in the comments below or @WhatsTrending on Twitter!