RuPaul Chooses Not to Cancel 'Down Under' Contestant Scarlet Adams Over Blackface Posts

Wednesday June 2, 2021
Originally published on May 31, 2021

To cancel or not?

That is the Solomon-like question RuPaul and the producers of "Drag Race Down Under" faced recently when the successful series went to New Zealand for the franchise's latest installment. What has prompted the latest snafu came when it was revealed that contestant Scarlet Adams had done Blackface in the past. The revelation was something of the elephant in the room, since Adams had addressed and apologized for her miscultural appropriation last June; but it wasn't addressed on the show until the May 29th episode aired.

It was first addressed backstage, then on the runway when RuPaul questioned Adams about it in front of the other contestants, reported Pink News.

"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," RuPaul said.

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."

To which she tearfully added: "To know that something I have done has hurt other people feels awful."

"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," RuPaul told her, allowing her to stay.

Adams has performed well on the show thus far, winning two of the weekly challenges and, as of yet, not found herself up for elimination.

Some in the Down Under drag community weren't having it. "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 (sic) in Kayan and Ndebele culture, and a South Asian sari," wrote Pink News.

Adams had previously apologized for the photos in an Instagram post called "Atonement" in June, 2020. "I was ignorant, I was young and so fucking stupid," he wrote in part. "I'm not perfect now but i know i am not that person anymore." Read her apology here.

Last week Fox posted another IG in which he called Adams out for playing the victim card when she posed at an event wearing a dress with graffiti written across it that reads, "Quit Drag" and "Flop." Fox wrote, "After seeing this most recent image of you playing victim I've come to realisation that a racist like you will never take into count the atrocity you've caused towards marginalised communities."

Adding, "Once a racist always a racist??"

"Drag Race" judge Michelle Visage also addressed the controversy. "I know they apologised and that's it," Visage said as reported by the website Stuff.

"I say this to my own children, you have to think about why you do things and what you do, and I think it's important for people to take responsibility.

"So I think that apologies were made, apologies were necessary."