Youtuber Lilly Singh Apologizes for 'Disrespectful' Turban Joke She Made at Jessica Alba's Home
"I hope you continue to make space for me to make mistakes, and improve from them," said Lilly Singh
Lilly Singh is taking responsibility for her mistakes.
On Friday, the popular YouTube vlogger apologized on Twitter for a discriminatory comment she made about turbans during a previous episode of her show, A Little Late With Lilly, calling her remarks “disrespectful and problematic.”
“They’re really good at being cool, especially with people that they geek out over like you,” Alba, 38, told Singh during the show. “They’re trying to be cool about it. I was like, ‘Lilly’s downstairs,’ and they’re like, ‘Lilly’s downstairs?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, come say hi.’ They wear the towels, the turbo twists, so they like look super not cool in the turbo twists but it dries their hair really quickly, so it’s very practical. I think they definitely had the turbi twists on when they said hi.”
“They look like my Punjabi friends,” Singh responded. “It’s fine.”
Her comments faced backlash from viewers, leading Singh to reflect and ultimately apologize.
“Hey friends, my timing is very poor,” she wrote. “I just made a post about dealing with hate online because I saw a tweet from someone making fun of my outfit and I was completely oblivious to a larger issue happening.”
“In a recent episode of my show, I stupidly made a comparison about turbans that I’d like to apologize for,” she said. “My guest was explaining how her kids were embarrassed I saw them with towels twisted on their heads and I said ‘don’t worry, it’s like my Punjabi friends.’ In the moment, my thought process was ‘don’t be embarrassed! I think that’s dope.’ But in hindsight I recognize that was a disrespectful and problematic joke to make that has a lot of painful history behind it. And I’m very sorry.”
She continued, “This was the first episode of the show I ever taped and I was very nervous, doing improv that wasn’t well thought out. I’m incredibly sorry to those I hurt with that comparison. And I want to make it clear that I’m incredibly grateful to the people who took the time to bring this to my attention and educate me on the matter; I appreciate that you approached me with love and patience. I don’t wear a turban and I haven’t lived that experience and so I really value people giving perspective. I’m grateful that this was a teachable moment instead of another opportunity to divide and attack.”
Singh concluded, “This is all new to me. I’m still learning and growing. I know the line for comedy is subjective so I can only do what I feel is right. And in this case, taking full ownership and apologizing feels right. No ands, ifs or buts. It was wrong. I hope you continue to make space for me to make mistakes, and improve from them. Aside from these words, I’ve also taken the action to ensure my stupid joke is removed from the episode and online clips. Thank you and here’s to a life of growth and improvement.”
In addition, she shared a Funny or Die video titled “Let’s Talk About Turbans (Gasp!)” in a follow-up tweet. “Also, education is love so I’d like to shine light on this great video discussing the turban. Thank you again,” she wrote.
Singh, who is also an actress and played the role of Raven in HBO’s adaption of Fahrenheit 451, has always been transparent with her 14.5 million subscribers, opening up about her personal life and past struggles.
In November, she announced would be taking a break from making videos to focus on her mental health. The social media star explained that her decision had nothing to do with her fans or YouTube, but rather was something she needed for herself.
“I’ll be real with y’all. I am mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted,” she said. “I’ve been doing YouTube consistently for eight years … and for a lot of those years, I’ve been doing it twice a week, plus the daily blogs.”
“It’s been a lot,” she admitted. “I’ve enjoyed it, I love it, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it has been a lot.”