David Byrne has apologized for donning blackface in a promotional clip for the Talking Heads’ 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense. The singer wrote on Twitter Tuesday that a journalist, Sean Malin, had recently brought the video to his attention—and that in retrospect it was a “major mistake.”
In the promotional video Byrne interviews himself in character as multiple absurd fictional journalists—including characters of color.
“In the piece I appear as a number of different characters interviewing myself, and some of the characters portrayed are people of color,” Byrne tweeted Tuesday, adding, “I’d just about forgotten about this skit and I’m grateful that it has been brought to my attention.”
“To watch myself in the various characters, including black and brown face, I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgement that showed a lack of real understanding,” Byrne continued. “It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else- you’re not, or were not, the person you thought you were.”
“We have huge blind spots about ourselves- well, I certainly do,” the singer wrote. “I’d like to think I am beyond making mistakes like this, but clearly at the time I was not. Like I say at the end of our Broadway show American Utopia ‘I need to change too’..and I believe I have changed since then.”
“One hopes that folks have the grace and understanding to allow that someone like me, anyone really, can grow and change, and that the past can be examined with honesty and accountability,” Byrne concluded.