Online pundits are criticizing the world’s largest Youtuber for his latest charity-themed video in which he gives shoes to needy African children, claiming that he’s exploiting their plight for online engagement.
Jimmy Donaldson, also known as Mr. Beast, released a video March 8 that featured him giving away 20,000 pairs of shoes to South African children. According to Donaldson, the pairs of shoes he distributed to the children were the first pair they ever received, however his charity drive faced significant criticism online.
Donaldson explained that since certain parts of the country are so poor, children cannot afford shoes and have to walk barefoot across terrain while attempting to avoid obstacles such as broken glass fragments and contaminated liquids. He claimed his team collaborated with a charity called “Barefoot No More” in Johannesburg, South Africa, which distributes free shoes to youth so they can walk outside without fear of injury or disease. Donaldson also said that they delivered the shoes to seven schools in South Africa, which then distributed them to children in need.
In his latest video, @MrBeast gave 20,000 kids in South Africa their first pair of shoes
— Dexerto (@Dexerto) March 8, 2023
Some detractors accused him of “white saviorism” and exploiting others’ unfortunate situations to raise his own profile. Jezebel staff writer Kylie Cheung claimed Donaldson “embodies the worst and most obnoxious aspects of influencer capitalism.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Namina Forna tweeted that Mr. Beast worked her “last nerve” and that the video is a “perfect example of how white people persist in portraying Africa (literally doesn’t matter what country, not that y’all would know the diff countries anyway) as this amorphous mass of poverty & themselves as saviors”
Donaldson notably got swift backlash for another charity drive video in which he paid for eyesight surgery for people who couldn’t see. Similarly, Donaldson was accused of leveraging others’ disadvantage to increase his personal clout.
The YouTuber has defended his charity works on Twitter, accusing his critics of holding contradicting opinions on how the rich should use their money.