Pop singer Sky Ferreira rose from relative irrelevancy on Wednesday (April 16) when her new video for “I Blame Myself” was met with accusations of racism for its one-dimensional portrayal of black men living in the famed Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton. In the four-minute clip, Ferreira’s character leads a gang around town while performing what can’t be described as anything but a straightforward pop song.
The cries of racism are far from groundless: the men in the video play out every music video black man cliché. Policy Mic describes the characters as, “Black Man Doing Back Flip Off Car; Black Man, Pointing; and, most importantly, Black Man Driving With Hydraulics Jacked Up.” They’re hardly “characters” at all; they’re party of the scenery, like the graffiti on the concrete and the plywood boarding on the windows. None are there to tell a story; they just attempt to create some form of “credibility” for an otherwise entirely nondescript aspiring pop star.
Ferreira has gone on the defensive in response to the allegations, making statements that are, in their own way, more problematic than the video itself:
“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.”
Does she really expect us to believe that she auditioned dancers of other races? The video’s entire (racist) premise is that hanging out with black men makes Ferreira edgy and exciting. Certainly only black men with a look suited to the video’s ghettofied motif were considered. Casting was likely talent-blind, as well: the choreography is almost non-existent. That Ferreira says that she doesn’t “see race as an issue” in the context of this video proves that the starlet is probably more ignorant than she is racist. Just by making the video, she’s acting as the worst kind of “cultural tourist,” appropriating the lived experiences of others for entertainment.
“My brother is half black. My cousins are black. My family is Latina & Native American.”
That so many people still think that statements like this are an excuse for racism is honestly confusing to me. In the case of this video, This changes nothing, and Sky’s use of her the races of her family members as a defense is nothing more than exploitation.
“Don’t demean the actors & dancers in the video. They are more well spoken & aware than you and I will ever be.”
Microaggressions 101, as taught by Professor Sky Ferreira.
Like fellow appropriators Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Katy Perry, Sky Ferreira’s racially insensitive work doesn’t come from conscious hate. Rather, she seems to be completely oblivious to what’s actually meant by the racism charges. It would serve her well to stop typing, take a moment to listen, and learn something.