Talking Heads' David Byrne Apologizes for 1984 Blackface Video: 'A Major Mistake in Judgement'

Byrne says his portrayal 'showed a lack of real understanding'

September 2, 2020

David Byrne has issued an apology after footage surfaced of Byrne wearing black and brown face during a 1984 promotional video for the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense.

“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,” Byrne wrote in a tweet.

The video features Byrne portraying various characters while interviewing Byrne proper. Some of the characters Byrne 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,” he said in a tweet.

“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 added.

Byrne expressed regret over the video and his decision to portray people of color. He took responsibility over his actions and stated that he’s using the time to grow and learn from the past.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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