Over a decade after launching his YouTube channel, Shane Dawson is responding to renewed criticism over his frequent use of blackface and racial slurs in the past. In a 20-minute-long video posted to the platform on Friday, June 26, the online personality claimed he didn’t know “who that person [is] anymore” and admitted he should have faced serious repercussions at the time. In Shane Dawson’s YouTube apology video, he owned up to his offensive actions and said he was “willing to lose everything” due to how many people he’d hurt over the years.
Dawson, who’s been the subject of renewed scrutiny amidst the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, told his 23 million subscribers that he didn’t think his past apologies had done enough to right his wrongs in a video titled “Taking Accountability.”
“I have done a lot of things in my past that I hate, that I wish I could make go away, that I tried to make go away by deleting videos, or un-tagging my Instagram, literally doing whatever I can to pretend those things didn’t happen,” he told his followers. “Because yes, I apologized for a lot of them but I’m 31, almost 32. Those apologies suck. I don’t know who that person is anymore.”
In addition to admitting that he’d played “stereotypes of Black people, or Asian people, or Mexicans, or pretty much every race,” Dawson addressed how his frequent use of racial slurs in videos contributed to their “normalization.”
“Me, as a white person, wearing a wig, playing a character, doing stereotypes and then saying the N-word is something that I should have probably lost my career for at the time,” he said. “There’s no amount of apologizing that can take it away.”
He then delved specifically into his use of blackface on his channel, including how he previously made excuses to justify it in a video in 2014.
“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. “I am so sorry to anybody that saw that and also saw that people were lifting me up and saying, ‘You’re so funny, Shane.’ I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be Black and see this white f—ing guy doing blackface and the whole Internet at that time being like, ‘LOL.'”
The comedian said that he’d been inspired by a similar video from fellow YouTube star Jenna Marbles to reflect on his past actions and take accountability for what he’d done wrong.
“This video is coming from a place of just wanting to own up to my s—t, wanting to own up to everything I’ve done on the internet that has hurt people, that has added to the problem, that has not been handled well. I should have been punished for things,” he said.
After taking his actions into account, the comedian admitted that he was ready to “lose everything” in order to be held accountable, although he did not specify if that meant he was planning to quit vlogging or delete his YouTube channel.
“I’m willing to lose everything,” Dawson said. “At this point, realizing how many people I’ve hurt or how many people I’ve inspired to say awful things or do anything awful, to finally just own up to all of this and be accountable is worth losing everything to me.”
While responses to Dawson’s apology video have been largely negative, the star made it clear that he wasn’t looking for forgiveness when he posted the video.
“It’s okay to be upset at your past self for making mistakes,” he said. “But also it’s okay if people don’t want to accept your apology and don’t want to support your anymore. That’s okay, too, and I understand.”
In the couple of days following the posting of the video, it is still unclear if Dawson is planning to quit YouTube or not.
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