David Byrne Apologizes For Wearing Blackface In Stop Making Sense Promo Video

David Byrne has apologized for portraying people of color and wearing black and brown face in an old promotional video for the Talking Heads’ concert film Stop Making Sense. In the clip, he appears as a number of different characters interviewing himself. Byrne took to his Twitter account, which he rarely utilizes for personal use, to post a statement acknowledging the video.

“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,” he wrote. “It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else- you’re not, or were not, the person you thought you were.”

Here is his full tweet thread:

Recently a journalist pointed out something I did in a promo video skit in 1984 for the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. In the piece I appear as a number of different characters interviewing myself, and some of the characters portrayed are people of color

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. 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. 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.

A Spike Lee-directed filmed version of Byrne’s American Utopia Broadway show is coming to HBO next month.