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J Balvín apologizes, deletes music video out of 'respect' after backlash over 'racist' depictions

·3 min read

Colombian reggaeton artist J Balvín is apologizing for the controversial music video for his song "Perra" that he removed from YouTube following backlash over its "racist" and "misogynistic" depiction of Black women.

"Perra," which translates to "dog" in English but is commonly used as a derogatory term for women in Spanish, is a suggestive song about two people lusting for each other: "I’m like a dog in heat... Looking for a dog to hit it."

The music video for "Perra," featuring Dominican rapper Tokishca, depicts her and other people of color as animals, with Balvín seen walking two Black women on leashes at one point. Tokishca is also seen in a dog house on all fours, where she is fed fried chicken and cereal in a dog bowl.

Balvín's music video, directed by Raymi Paulus, was originally released on the streaming platform on Sept. 10, but the video was taken down Oct. 17, according to Billboard and The Los Angeles Times. Balvín said Sunday that he previously removed the video out of "respect," and was speaking out now because of continued criticism.

"I want to say sorry to whomever felt offended, especially to the Black women community," Balvín said in a series of videos on his Instagram Stories on Sunday, translated from Spanish. "That's not who I am. I have always expressed tolerance, love and inclusivity."

The singer said he included Tokishca in the video because he likes to support new artists, dubbing her "a woman who supports her people, her community and also empowers women."

Although an audio-only version remains on Balvín's YouTube channel, visuals from the "Perra" video are still circulating social media and sparking backlash.

USA TODAY reached out to YouTube and Tokishca's distributor Equity Distribution for comment. Balvín's reps declined to comment.

Paulus, who is also Tokischa's manager, has since deleted his personal Instagram page.

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In a joint letter, Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez and Presidential Counselor for Women’s Equality Gheidy Gallo Santos called Balvín's video "sexist, racist, machista, and misogynistic."

"The artist uses images of women and people (of) Afro-descendants … who are presented with dog ears," they wrote in the open letter, published on Oct. 10. "While walking, the singer carries two women Afro-descendants tied with neck chains and crawling on the floor like animals or slaves."

The letter continued: "As if this were not enough, the lyrics of the song … violate the rights of women comparing them to an animal that must be dominated and mistreated."

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Singer J Balvin performs on a stage during a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) ORG XMIT: ASC101
Singer J Balvin performs on a stage during a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) ORG XMIT: ASC101

People on social media agreed.

User @justinocastorCO tweeted, "@JBALVIN is sooo misogynistic and racist using all his Power for just treating black women in the Video like animals!"

Twitter user @AyakTracks added, "Not J Balvin walking black women on a leash!… This racist, disrespectful misogynoir has to stop!"

Journalist Núria Net described the video as "totally despicable and racist," adding that "taking it down from YouTube without making any kind of statement or mea culpa is very cowardly and does not solve anything."

Net also wrote on Twitter that, to her, "Perra" does not seem "machista at all," adding "it is one of the few songs in the movement in which a man and a woman sing to each other about their desire, bellaqueo, etc (and the song was written mostly by Tokischa)."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: J Balvin sorry for 'Perra' video with Tokishca after 'racist' backlash

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