Katy Perry Owns Up to Cultural Appropriation: ‘I Did It Wrong’ (Video)

“I will never understand, but I can educate myself, and that’s what I’m trying to do along the way,” says the “Swish Swish” singer

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Katy Perry has responded to criticism of cultural appropriation, saying that she is trying to educate herself after listening to backlash in the past.

The “Swish Swish” singer was interviewed by Deray McKesson for his “Pod Save the People” Podcast and discussed having a conversation with “one of my empowered angels, Cleo” after she received backlash for sporting cornrows in her “This Is How We Do” music video. She asked questions like “What does it mean? Why can’t I wear my hair that way?”

“And she told me about the power in black women’s hair, and how beautiful it is, and the struggle,” Perry said. “I listened. And I heard. And I didn’t know. And I won’t ever understand some of those things because of who I am — I will never understand, but I can educate myself, and that’s what I’m trying to do along the way.”


Perry also discussed her geisha-themed performance at the 2013 American Music Awards, which was highly-scrutinized at the time. While performing her hit, “Unconditionally,” Perry wore a full kimono, tabi socks, lacquered hair and geiko pancake. Plus, her face was heavily powdered.

“Even in my intention to appreciate Japanese culture, I did it wrong with a performance, and I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong,” she added. “Sometimes that’s what it takes, is it takes someone to say — out of compassion, out of love — ‘This is where the origin is, do you understand?’ And not just like, a clapback. Because it’s hard to hear those clapbacks sometimes. And your ego just wants to turn from them. I’ve been so grateful to have great teachers and great friends who will really hold me accountable, even when I said I wasn’t a feminist because I didn’t know what that word meant.”

April Reign, the writer and activist behind the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, took to Twitter to criticize the statements Perry made, suggesting the 32-year-old should “hire women of color for your next tour, photoshoots, etc. to ensure you’re not appropriating.”

A representative for Perry has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

See Reign’s tweets below.