It appears Katy Perry is going through a period of awakening. In preparation for her Witness tour, the "Bon Appétit" singer held a three-day live stream event in which she talked about becoming a feminist, realizing her sexual power, and the importance of owning up to her past mistakes.
She seems to have taken that last lesson to heart, too. On Saturday, June 10, Perry sat down with Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson to discuss her troubled history with cultural appropriation and what it means to have white privilege, which aired on his podcast, Pod Save The People.
I'm proud of Katy for acknowledging her mistakes with cultural appropriation. She's learning pic.twitter.com/uyHd3upmzx— la bella vita (@drugproblem) June 11, 2017
Throughout the discussion, Perry admits that she's "made several mistakes" and calls out both her music video for "This Is How We Do," in which she wears braids and eats watermelon, and her 2013 American Music Awards performance, in which she dressed as a geisha.
But Perry also confesses that she didn't realize she'd hurt people through cultural appropriation on her own and credits conversations with people such as her "empowered angel Cleo [Wade]" for opening her eyes.
"I listened, and I heard, and I didn't know," she told McKesson. "And I won't ever understand some of those things because of who I am. I will never understand, but I can educate myself, and that's what I'm trying to do along the way...I didn't know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong. And, sometimes that's what it takes. It takes someone to say, out of compassion and out of love, 'Hey, this is what the origin is."
Though some have praised Perry for owning up to her past, others have noted her apology is too little too late.
So, she wants us to empathize with how bad she feels for getting rich off of the very same things for which we are derided? pic.twitter.com/ZE9xplYJpo— Elizaeverafter (@Elizaeverafter) June 11, 2017
Hi, my name is Katy Perry and I have not made my entire career off the backs of LGBT and cultural appropriation pic.twitter.com/65EXAopYts— Kayla/Marie(a)🏳️🌈 (@Maria_Giesela) June 11, 2017
I can't really buy that Katy Perry learned from her cultural appropriation because shes . still . doing . it.— child of moon & sea (@JocelynDonna) June 11, 2017
She's not the only one getting flack, either. As Fader points out, some have taken to Twitter to criticize McKesson for sitting down with the pop star. In an attempt to clear the air, McKesson posted a thread about his decision to have an hour-long discussion with Perry about race and privilege. Here are just a few from that thread:
I started #PodSaveThePeople with the goal of discussing activism, race, equity, and solutions with a range of people in a candid way.— deray mckesson (@deray) June 11, 2017
I invited Katy Perry to talk on the podcast b/c of her role on the HRC campaign, how she views her art + activism, & her past re: race.— deray mckesson (@deray) June 11, 2017
And yes, we talk about race, appropriation, what she's doing to grow and learn. And I ask one/two questions about music.— deray mckesson (@deray) June 11, 2017
Despite the countless opinions on McKesson and Perry's conversation, one thing is clear: Intent doesn't always matter when it comes to how others perceive our actions. At the risk of sounding like a motivational poster: Listen, learn, grow, and overall, do better.
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