RuPaul confronts Drag Race Down Under contestant over racist past – and she doesn’t hold back
On the latest episode of Drag Race Down Under, RuPaul called out contestant Scarlet Adams for performing in Blackface at previous points in her career.
Scarlet spoke to her fellow queens in the werk room about her previous performances wearing Blackface, before later being confronted by RuPaul.
On the runway, RuPaul directly addressed the allegations: “There’s something we need to talk about. It’s just come to my attention that there are photos of you online performing in Blackface, and I want to give you an opportunity to address this.”
Scarlet responded: “I can’t deny that that happened. As a dumb, ignorant teenager I made some mistakes that I’m really not proud of, and every day I regret those decisions.
“I regret the fact that I used my platform as a performer to ridicule people who’ve faced systematic racism for hundreds of years.
“I’m so ashamed of the person that I once was. I’m really sorry to you and to everyone that I have hurt.”
In a tearful confessional, she added: “To know that something I have done has hurt other people feels awful.”
RuPaul told the queen: “I’m sure there are people that would want me to cancel you right here right now. But I’d rather this be a lesson in humility and accountability, and I pray that all of us can learn and grow from our mistakes.”
Aboriginal drag queen Felicia Fox posted a string of photos on her Instagram in March showing Scarlet Adams wearing various racist and culturally appropriative costumes. One photo shows Scarlet in an Aboriginal flag t-shirt and Blackface with two blacked-out teeth, taken on Invasion Day in 2012. Others show her wearing Blackface and an afro wig, neck rings customary in Kayan and Ndebele culture, and a South Asian sari.
When the photos initially circulated social media, Scarlet created an Instagram highlight titled ‘Atonement’, where she apologised for the costumes and called them “so f**king stupid”. Foxx later accused her of making light of the accusations.
Visage previously addressed the accusations, saying: “Apologies were necessary.”
Before the runway, the RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under queens discussed the photos in the work room
While preparing for the runway, Scarlet told the queens: “I’ve said and done things that I regret in drag a lot.
“When I was a lot younger and stupider and naïve, just trying desperately to make people laugh. I recently got called out on it.”
“I have in the past, along with a lot of the other queens, done Blackface before, which I really regret,” she added. “I’m disgusted at myself that I did those things.”
Etcetera Etcetera responded: “I’ve never looked at something like Blackface and even thought that could be an honest mistake.”
Art Simone added: “It’s strange to use someone’s culture to make a joke of it.”
“I didn’t know any better, not that that’s an excuse,” Scarlet continued. “It’s hard to unlearn things that are ingrained into you as a child.”
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Maxi Shield came to her support, saying lots of the things she saw and heard growing up in central Queensland was “awful”.
Etcetera clapped back saying that “casual racism in conversation is very different to painting your face in Blackface and performing a number for money.”
She highlighted the “extremely racist” drag scenes that still exist and drove the point home: “While people of colour and trans people are still facing violence every single day from the systematic oppression that we live in, it just isn’t a joke to me.”
Scarlet responded: “I know I’ll never be able to fully atone for the things that I did in my past, but if I can try.”
Etcetera called for her to take “steps of reparation” rather than just apologising.