J Balvin has issued an apology and removed his “Perra” video from YouTube.
Directed by Raymi Paulus and also starring Tokischa, the visual shows Balvin walking two Black women on leashes, their faces made to look like dogs. The video received a ton of public backlash, with many calling it out as racist, and now the international superstar has taken to social media to apologize.
“I want to say sorry to whomever felt offended, especially to the Black community. That’s not who I am,” he said in an Instagram Story, according to Billboard. He apologized to his mother (who also criticized the video) directly and added that he’s “always been about tolerance, love, and integration, just as I’ve always liked to support new talent — in this case Tokischa, a woman who supports her people, her community and empowers women.”
Tokischa, reportedly of Afro-Dominican descent, wasn’t as apologetic in her statement to Rolling Stone, which prioritized the “expression” of art over a clearly racist concept. She told Rolling Stone, “I said that if I’m going to talk about ‘perra en calor,’ I’m going use all the language associated with dogs: ‘perro de raza’ [purebred], ‘Purina’—which is a word with a double meaning because here, that’s what you call a product that’s really pure… ‘la perrera’ [the pound]. It was very conceptual. If you, as a creative, have a song that’s talking about dogs, you’re going to create that world.”
“I understand the interpretation people had and I’m truly sorry that people felt offended. But at the same time, art is expression,” she added.
Meanwhile, Director Raymi Paulus explained the choice in using Black actors, telling Rolling Stone “The Dominican Republic is a country where most of the population is Black and our Blackness is predominant in underground scenes, where the filming took place, and which was the subject of the video’s inspiration. ‘Perra’ was a video filmed in the neighborhood, with people from the neighborhood, and the use of people of color in “Perra” was nothing more than the participation of our people in it.”
For those who missed it, J Balvin’s mom told a Colombian news station earlier this month that, that wasn’t the son she knew. From Remezcla: “When I found out [about “Perra”], I called him … [and asked], ‘Where is the Josésito that I know?’ Mama Balvin told Cosmovisión. ‘That song is not … I don’t even know what to say. I did not see my José anywhere.’”
In an open letter, Colombia vice president and chancellor, Marta Lucía Ramírez, also called the visual “sexist,” “racist,” and more.