YouTuber Shane Dawson addresses racist skits, pedophilia jokes

Jada Pinkett Smith and Jaden Smith said they were disgusted and done with excuses in response to an old video of Dawson sexualizing Willow Smith at age 11

YouTuber Shane Dawson

Shane Dawson speaks onstage during a tribute to the late Christina Grimmie at the 6th annual Streamy Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Oct. 4, 2016 in Beverly Hills, Calif.Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images file

Shane Dawson, one of YouTube’s biggest creators, talked about racist and abusive videos from his past in a new 20-minute video on Friday, where he said his previous apologies weren’t good enough.

Dawson, who has nearly 23 million followers, became famous on the platform about 10 years ago, making comedy sketches that often included a black face and acted as characters that perpetuated racist stereotypes. The 31-year-old Internet celebrity previously apologized for her videos, but said the apology was just an excuse.

“Blackface was something I did a lot – like, I did it a lot on my channel – and there’s no excuse for it. There’s literally no excuse,” said Dawson. “I made a video six years ago talking about it and I gave excuses. And I knew it was wrong, I never wanted to do it again, but I didn’t do the work. I didn’t actually look into the history of it and why it’s so wrong, and why people were so upset.”

He said that he regrets that he contributed to the normalization of the black face and N-words, realizing that his sketches made his young listeners believe that these things were funny when they were not there.

“I’m so sorry to anybody who saw that and that also saw that people were lifting me up and were saying ‘You’re so funny, Shane, oh my god you’re so funny,“ You are so funny, Shane, oh my god, you are so funny, ”Dawson said. “I can’t even put myself in that headspace, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be Black and see this white f—— guy do blackface and the whole internet at that time being like, lol.”

Dawson said he has since studied the history of blackface and how it was used to oppress black people. Blackface in America began in the early 1800s, when white artists darkened to make fun of blacks on a minstrel show.

White performers, usually men, made fun of black slaves, characterizing them as lazy and ignorant. One of the most famous black characters was “Jim Crow” performed by Thomas Rice, which is often mentioned in the title of Jim Crow laws, which were used to strip black Americans of their civil rights after slavery ended.

Dawson also talked about the jokes he made regarding pedophilia, creating in the films a “child ridicule character,” one of which included the sexualization of Willow Smith when she was only 11 years old.

Jada Pinkett Smith and her son Jaden Smith responded to Dawson on Twitter on Saturday, although he did not directly access Willow Smith’s video.

“SHANE DAWSON I AM DISGUSTED BY YOU,” Jaden tweeted. “YOU SEXUALIZING AN 11 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO HAPPENS TO BE MY SISTER!!!!!! IS THE FURTHEST THING FROM FUNNY AND NOT OKAY IN THE SLIGHTEST BIT.”

Pinkett Smith simply tweeted to Dawson, “I’m done with the excuses.”

Dawson explained to his audience that he was joking awfully, instead of tackling his personal problems and injuries from past childhood. The 31-year-old creator admitted that he simply had to “go for therapy” and tackle his problems, rather than posting these things on the Internet.

“When I say I hate that person, I mean it in the most intense way possible. I hate that person so much,” Dawson said. “That person was filled with sadness, filled with anger about their own issues, in the closet, constantly projecting on others. I don’t know … that person is someone I don’t like seeing.”

A 20-minute Dawson video entitled “Taking responsibility” was published just a day after YouTuber ally Jenna Marbles announced she would leave the platform after making racist jokes and black-faced videos in her early years.

Although the reaction to Marble’s video was mixed, many pointed to the fact that other YouTubers users had a much more extensive story with black faces and racist sketches, including Dawson. Dawson also said in his video that he understands that some people will never forgive him for his actions.

Some responded to Dawson’s Friday video with commentary about how the man has grown in the years since, but the majority of responses insisted that his behavior as an adult was inexcusable, no matter what trauma he endured. Critics also pointed out that it is not the place of white fans to accept an apology that was meant for the Black, Asian, Latinx, and LGBTQ people who were mocked by Dawson.

Some responded to a Friday Dawson video commenting on how this person grew over the years, but most insisted that his adult behavior was unforgivable, no matter what kind of injury he suffered. Critics also noted that white fans should not accept an apology that was intended for Black, Asian, Latinx and LGBTQ people who were ridiculed by Dawson.

Social Blade, a third-party site that tracks YouTuber analytics such as videos and subscriber numbers, reports that Dawson has lost some 300,000 subscribers on his channel from Friday to Sunday morning.

Dawson said in his video that he should have lost his career because of the video and that he admits that he should still lose today, but unlike Marbles, he did not say that he would stop making the video. Instead, he told fans that he wants to do better with the videos he creates and open up his platform to be more inclusive.

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