Last week, a TikTok video clipped together several resurfaced videos of pop singer Billie Eilish, including ones where she mouths an anti-Asian slur and uses heavily accent speech. The 19-year-old singer took to Instagram to add context to the short clips and apologize for her actions, saying that the videos were filmed when she was 13 or 14 and that she was unaware that what she was mouthing was a derogatory racial slur.
“I am appalled and embarrassed and want to barf that I ever mouthed along to that word. This song was the only time I’d ever heard that word as it was never used around me by anyone in my family,” she says. “Regardless of my ignorance and age at the time, nothing excuses the fact is that it was hurtful. And for that I am sorry.”
The song Eilish mouthed was “Fish” from Tyler, the Creator’s 2011 album Goblin. The rapper spews a myriad of violently sexist lines throughout the track, including: “Slip it in her drink, and in the blink of an eye, I can make a white girl look *****.” And if it’s not obvious enough, Tyler is also someone who should not be saying anti-Asian racial slurs.
In another clip, Eilish is seen speaking nonsensical phrases that have been interpreted as mocking a heavy Asian accent. Eilish explains that she was using a made-up gibberish voice she’s used throughout her childhood with pets, friends, and family.
“It is absolutely gibberish and just me goofing around and is in no way an imitation of anyone or any language, accent, or culture in the slightest,” she wrote. “Anyone who knows me has seen me goofing around with voices my whole life.”
Regardless, she apologizes for how the video came across and for the harm it caused.
“It absolutely breaks my heart that it is being labeled now in a way that might cause pain to people hearing it,” she writes.
She ends her post with a dedication to continue learning. “I not only believe in but have always worked hard to use my platform to fight for inclusion, kindness, tolerance, equity and equality,” Eilish says. “We all need to continue having conversations, listening, and learning. I hear you and I love you.”
The original TikTok user who posted the video, @lcxvy, a follow-up video saying she’s glad Eilish addressed the clips, and that it’s “understandable and good she finally said something.”