Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under contestant Scarlet Adams has apologised for her past racist performances, including donning Blackface. The apology video was posted by Adams on her Facebook page after episode five of the show dropped on Saturday. In the episode, Rupaul had called out the past racist performances by Adams, who was given an opportunity to apologise. 

“I’m sure there are people that want me to cancel you right here, right now, but I’d rather this be a lesson in humility and accountability. And I pray all of us can learn and grow from our mistakes,” RuPaul said. 

Adams was first called out by Aboriginal drag queen Felicia Foxx, as reported by Star Observer in March. Foxx, again called Adams out last week over her choice of dress at a recent event and “playing the victim”. 

Adams in her video said that she had signed a contract that stopped her from discussing the issue before (though she had posted an apology before and taken it down after criticism), but was now ready to take accountability for her past actions. 

‘Racist Performances As 18-year-Old’

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“There are a lot of things from my past that I am not proud of, things I did as a teenager, that included Geisha makeup, wearing Native American headdresses, cultural appropriation, performances which ridiculed accents and blackface. For these things I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed, and I cannot apologize enough for the hurt that was caused from those acts,” Adams said. 

The drag performer insisted that her performances were not the outcome of maliciousness, but out of ignorance. 

“While these performances were never built with malicious intent, I recognize that they cause so much hurt to people who have faced centuries of dehumanization, racism, and disenfranchisement from colonization and systematic racism. I’ve apologized for this a few times before Drag Race was even a concept, but I will continue to apologise, because the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour)  community deserves meaningful actions, and not just hollow words,” said Adams. 

‘Television Shows Normalised Blackface’

The performances date back to 2012, when Adams, then a 18-year-old, was starting drag in Perth. Adams said that she grew up watching performances on television that perpetuated racist stereotypes and normalised blackface to get a laugh. As a young drag performer, Adams said she relied on what she had seen growing up, to “climb the ladder”. 

“I was only thinking about myself and how I could climb that ladder, I was never thinking about the ways that those performances could hurt other people. My work ethic was very selfish and reckless and ignored,” confessed Adams.

She claimed that her worldview changed as she met other artists, and learnt about diversity. That is when, she said, she stopped doing the drag performances, but admitted she failed to take accountability for it. 

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“The one thing I never really did was take full accountability for it, and apologize, until 2020. This was because I was ashamed, but also because I didn’t want the people in my life that meant the most to me to be disappointed in me, and I certainly didn’t want them to be hurt again by revisiting those images, since I stopped doing those performances several years ago,” Adams said. 

Adams said that she had since undertaken reparations, including acknowledging traditional owners before her performances, donating her income from the racist performances, donating to the ‘Pay The Rent’, promoting BIPOC performers and ensuring other performers do not have such performances in her shows. 

Mixed Reaction To Apology

Adams’ apology was welcomed by some, including the performer’s mother Melanie price. 

“As your Mother, I know what you do and say is from the heart and is truthful in what you say! I also know that back 9 years ago when you were only 18 years of age, you never meant to hurt anyone,” Price commented on Adams’ apology video. 

“You were never brought up to be racist or have hatred in your heart. So I am very proud of you that you have acknowledged your wrong doings back 9 years ago and that you are making amends for it! Your actions speak volumes to everyone. Love you,” added Adams. 

Others however were not convinced and many also questioned why the producers of the show had not disqualified Adams, but instead let her off with just a “lesson in humility”.

“Scarlet Adams’ glowingly positive treatment on #DragRaceDownUnder is a painful reminder of the countless instances of racism I, and I know many other queer people of colour, have had to endure in these so called “safe” spaces only to have them be healing moments for white people,” said one Twitter user. 

“The worst part about Scarlet Adams’ apology was when she minimised the severity of her actions by saying other drag queens have also done it. Gross,” said another user on social media. 

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

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