Sky Ferreira Just Destroyed Everyone Who Said Her “I Blame Myself” Video Is Racist

Apr 17th, 2014 // 5 Comments
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This is why we can’t have nice things. Or, everything is embarrassing, you might say. Sky Ferreira released her thoroughly badass “I Blame Myself” video yesterday, and within about two seconds it was being labeled by some viewers as “racist.” The main issue is that the visual finds the (very) white Ferreira in the role of gang leader/dance commander in Compton, and save for a couple stray characters like a cop, the actors are not white, including her cadre of black backup dancers.

So, like Miley Cyrus and Lily Allen before her, Ferreira was accused of using non-white performers as props (on a related note: she’s the only female in the vid, so does that mean she’s using males as props and thus is SEXIST TOO?). And like those stars before her, Ferreira responded by saying the roles were filled based on who had the most talent, regardless of skin color.

But the critiques didn’t stop, so she didn’t stop with that simple explanation. Sky took to Facebook last night (April 16) to fully defend the video, highlighting her family makeup and upbringing, and absolutely laying into those who cried racism in the process. “Stop trying to search for something that isn’t there… My brother is half black. My cousins are black. My family is Latina & Native American. Some of my family is in the video. I wasn’t raised in a ‘white’ household,” she wrote. “Should I consciously only cast white dancers from now on?… Please do research before you make such shitty accusations about people.”

Read her whole rebuttal below, it’s worth it.

Thank you so much for the love & support of the video. It’s something that means a lot to me. I’ve never seen such a big response from my fans before
I’ve been reading some of the responses and I had a few thoughts:

Some people are accusing of being racist. I usually do not need to feel the need to explain myself(which I’m not) but I DO feel the need to share my thoughts on the situation. Nothing upsets me more than being called racist because that is one of the most hateful things anyone can be. Not only do I find it insulting towards myself but I also feel insulted for the actors & dancers & my family in the video. No, I did not use black back up dancers as “props”. I never have and never will look at any human being as a prop. That’s disgusting. It’s also an idea that has never crossed my mind,which is what I find questionable of the people telling me that I did so.Dancers are objects?!?!?! How dare you! Dancers make things come to life. If they were white would they be considered “props”? I auditioned a bunch of dancers,all races & my dancers were the best ones. I know that you have to be socially aware & mindful of others but when I look at this video I don’t see race as a issue.Stop trying to search for something that isn’t there. Comments like “rich little white girl exploiting the black people & the ghetto”…I never exploited anyone & I don’t use people in any shape or form. My brother is half black. My cousins are black. My family is Latina & Native American. Some of my family is in the video.I wasn’t raised in a “white” house hold & I’m not little & I have financially supported myself since I was 15 years old. I’m a woman,not a fucking little girl. Because I have pale skin & green eyes doesn’t mean I was raised in Beverly Hills and have Swedish film investor parents or whatever some have created in their minds. Would you feel more at ease if I danced with a bunch blonde white boys at a mall? Should I consciously only cast white dancers for now on? If I’m racist does that mean you’re pro-segregation?! I’m from LA & shot the video there. I referenced 90s hip hop videos and Michael Jackson because both of those things inspire me & played a big part of my childhood. The only thing I’m sorry for is if this post seems to come off self defensive,which it isn’t meant to be…but I had to share these thoughts because it drove me up the wall. Don’t demean the actors & dancers in the video. They are more well spoken & aware than you and I will ever be. Please do research before you make such shitty accusations about people. Anyways…Thank you SSENSE & Atom Factory Management & Grant Singer for making this video happen. We have been trying to make it for a while & I’m so glad I get to share it with the world now <3333333


And that, everyone, is how you go in on your critics.

Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.


  1. Daw Johnson

    No she didn’t.

    “Don’t demean the actors & dancers in the video. They are more well spoken & aware than you and I will ever be. ”

    = racist. Why wouldn’t black people be well-spoken?

    I love Sky’s music, but she’s guilty of making the same assumptions about black people “from the ghetto” as her critics are.

  2. Sunny

    This post is cringe-worthy. I like Sky’s music; I certainly don’t think she’s racist. However, in her apology, she seems to totally disregard the existence of the Institution of Racism. This Institution inherently forgoes the feelings of People of Color, because its existence is based on what white people see as oppressive. When the author of this post says that Sky “destroyed” her critics who called her a racist, it essentially comes off as a white man saying “if you’re a Person of Color and you think she’s being racist, you’re wrong and you’re feelings don’t matter.” Of course, it’s easy to sit on the internet behind the veil of a computer screen and look at her video and call her a racist without knowing her (or this author’s) upbringing. That is exactly why I don’t think she is a racist.

    But, I DO think she’s perpetuating stereotypes. When you have a video set in Compton, and it romanticizes gang culture, and your gang is played only by black men–a stereotype is being perpetuated. I have to say, I find it hard to believe that she couldn’t find AT LEAST one or two dancers of any other skin color that had the talent for which she was looking to fit the video.

    To Mr. Williott, the author of this post: regarding your crack about,”on a related note: she’s the only female in the vid, so does that mean she’s using males as props and thus is SEXIST TOO?” Look, I’m sure you’re a well-intentioned person. And I get it–free speech and all. But this specific line is just…sloppy. I’m well aware that you wrote that to analogize with your perception of the ridiculousness of the “Sky Ferreira is a Racist” claim. But in this situation specifically, the racial issue is very real and very (if, inadvertently) blatant. To make light of it, and then to joke about sexism in response, is again another way of saying that the feelings felt by People of Color aren’t real and are invalid. I’m aware that people who are straight-up calling her a racist are probably misguided. But, based on this piece alone, you seem to be just as misguided on the issue at hand here. As an author for a well-read music blog, I would like to think that you are conscious of the power held within words and visuals. As your reader, I ask that you use them more wisely.

    • Appreciate the thoughtful feedback: this is exactly the type of dialogue that *is* useful in these cases, rather than the knee-jerk Twitter outrage that so often smothers debates on race, gender, etc. Which was more what I was responding to/making light of.

      My half-joke sexism analogy was less my way to show the “ridiculousness of the ‘Sky Ferreira is a Racist’ claim” and was more to show the ridiculousness of the “Everything must be made into a capital-T Thing” culture. Sometimes, someone makes a music video, and it’s cool, and you move on, because who cares it’s just a music video from a (not even that famous) pop star. Now, I realize it’s easy for me to say that as a white male. But I don’t see how showing a bunch of dudes synchronized dancing in front of graffiti is “perpetuating stereotypes.” In fact, as a white person in 2014, it would be very troubling if I were to watch the video and my takeaway to be “well that was stereotypical ghetto stuff.” That would be racist! Maybe someone from my grandmother’s generation would feel that way, but I like to think the starting point has moved forward since then. So that’s where I’m coming from on that.

      And regarding your comment on invalidating the “feelings of People of Color,” I’m wary of the implication that a certain segment of people *must* feel a certain way about something. What about the PoC who were *in* the video? It’s why the “black dancers were used as props” argument is troubling, because it completely disregards the People of Color who were in the video, stripping them of their agency, depicting them as empty vessels who are easily exploited. (Of course, they could end up being offended by the final product like Miley’s dancer, in which case, we’d have to revisit this).

      Anyway, this probably isn’t an ample response, but the good thing is people have feelings about the racial implications, and other people have other feelings about it, and it’s being talked out, rather than hashtagged.

      • Sunny

        I think it’s clear that there are things on this subject that we may not necessarily agree upon, but at least we can agree to disagree, and ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. I appreciate your well-formed response. While I see where you’re coming from, and I have my own thoughts on the matter, I’ll stop myself from a rebuttal in an effort to not drag this out longer than it needs to be. (Needless to say, I definitely agree with you on the logic that not everything needs to be a Thing. That certainly does get frustrating.) If only all internet discussions were this beneficial to a larger discussion…

  3. Pablo

    If she uses 0 dancers that happen to be black

    “How is it that in a place that has a good amount of black people, not one of them is black?”

    If she uses 1 Dancer that happens to be black.

    “Why is their only one? They just put one so that she didn’t look racist.”

    If she uses mostly dancers, that are black.


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