KSI forced off social media for using racial slur in Sidemen video
Influencer, boxer and musician KSI – real name Olajide “JJ” Olatunji – has issued two apologies after saying a racial slur in a since deleted YouTube video on Sunday.
The 29-year-old, who co-owns the Prime drinks brand with fellow YouTuber Logan Paul, used a derogatory word aimed at Pakistani people in a video released by the creator group The Sidemen – of which he is a member.
The group, who release weekly videos to their channel on ‘Sidemen Sundays’, uploaded their second take on popular daytime gameshow Countdown last week, in which KSI said the slur as his answer during a letters round.
The other six members of the group – along with guest stars and musicians Yung Filly and Chunkz – could then be seen bursting out laughing as they reacted to KSI’s remarks.
“Look, we need points, innit? I don’t mean this maliciously,” he said, before uttering the slur.
The video was later removed when KSI’s comments sparked widespread condemnation.
After clips of KSI’s remarks were reposted online, Twitter users slammed the “dehumanising” comments, with some sharing their own experiences of abuse surrounding the word:
\u201cYou see @KSI the issue you have here is that a lot of Pakistanis can make things very difficult for you and anyone giggling in this video.\n\nWhen they catch up with you, I hope the dead countdown joke was worth it\u2026\ud83d\ude2c\n\nWakey Wines was getting his compensation in advance.\u201d
\u201cPs as for KSI.. this is what happens when people who aren\u2019t particularly smart or sensible get given a huge platform. That word is not cool to use and out of interest doesn\u2019t he own an energy drink? And what community owns the majority of shops that stock it? #goodluck\u201d
\u201cA lot's been deservedly thrown in KSI's direction over the disgusting racist language in that video. But *every single* one of The Sidemen should be ashamed. They carried on filming, no-one holding him to account. They're not children. They're very rich men who should know better\u201d
\u201cBeen a KSI fan for the longest but so weird for him to say 'paki' in the latest Sidemen vid even if they bleeped it & it was 'in jest' for content\n\nOther racial slurs wouldn't be used as punchlines for YouTube gameshows. Just makes light of the word + certain people's experience.\u201d
\u201cKSI used the word \u201cpaki\u201d in his latest sidemen video, as the rest of them laughed away. He has apologised. But what\u2019s worse is how some gen z south Asians were claiming \u201cwell we aren\u2019t offended\u201d. Let\u2019s talk.\u201d
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5 The word 'Paki' has historically been used in a derogatory manner and has not been used as a term of endearment. The slur was not limited to those of Pakistani origin but anyone with brown skin.\u201d
\u201cI wanna apologise for saying a racial slur in a recent Sidemen video. There\u2019s no excuse, no matter the circumstances, I shouldn\u2019t have said it and I\u2019m sorry. \n\nI\u2019ve always said to my audience that they shouldn\u2019t worship me or put me on a pedestal because I\u2019m human. Im not\u2026\u201d
He wrote: “I wanna apologise for saying a racial slur in a recent Sidemen video. There’s no excuse, no matter the circumstances, I shouldn’t have said it and I’m sorry.
“I’ve always said to my audience that they shouldn’t worship me or put me on a pedestal because I’m human. I’m not perfect. I’m gonna mess up in life, and lately I’ve been messing up a lot.
“So I’ve decided I’m gonna just take a break from social media for a while.”
The statement alludes to a previous controversy which took place last month, in which the YouTuber posted a series of tweets online attacking boxing commentator Wade Plemons for comments he made about the commercial success of a fight between KSI and rival YouTuber Jake Paul.
KSI later tweeted that he was “actually sorry”, had spoken to Plemons and that the whole thing “has just been a big misunderstanding”.
“I recognise that I’ve caused a lot of hurt and disappointment to so many people – so many people who look up to me – and my ignorance has only reinforced the negative stereotypes that have existed for way too long in this country.
“Privately, I have taken the time to engage in very early conversations with some people from South Asian communities, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.
“I will continue to educate myself on the rich history and diverse cultures of South Asia, and the struggles faced by its people,” he said.
Visiting a Bradford mosque
Wednesday also saw another video appear online in which KSI could be seen meeting with community members from the Al-Hikam Institute, a mosque in Bradford.
Confirming the visit in a Facebook post, Imam Muhammed Asim Hussain said he had a “long, deep and genuinely sincere conversation” with the YouTuber.
“As a leader in my community I don’t use my words lightly. KSI came here to Bradford to meet with me with pure intent to start the pathway to right his wrong and the first step is to gain a deeper understanding and education of his mistake.
“He realises the extent of his mistake and is genuinely remorseful and apologetic for the hurt he caused the South Asian community. The history of the Pakistani and South Asian community in British society was explained to him and the dangers of normalising offensive slurs to his audience was highlighted at length.
“He came with a genuinely remorseful heart and good intention, he brought no cameras and was filmed by our own enthusiastic community members in their excitement of meeting and seeing KSI unexpectedly here in Bradford.”
The Sidemen statements
In addition to KSI issuing his own, personal apology for the remarks he made in the Countdown video, a collective group statement was issued on behalf of The Sidemen on Monday.
It read: “We accept that [the use of the slur] was completely unacceptable and inexcusable. The fact the incident was made light of on the show was wrong and compounded the hurt. We deeply regret this and would like to truly apologise.
“We have reflected on this incident both collectively and individually and are truly ashamed that we let ourselves and you guys down in this way.
“We want to use our channels to promote positivity and great entertainment. We stand against racism and discrimination of any kind and we failed to do that.”
Alongside KSI, the group of creators is made up of Josh “Zerkaa” Bradley; Ethan “Behzinga” Payne; Tobi “Tobjizzle” Brown; Simon “Miniminter” Minter; Harry “WroeToShaw” Lewis and Vikram “Vikkstar” Barn.
Individual statements have also been issued by its members.
Barn wrote that “as a South Asian, I fell short of my responsibility to ensure this racial slur, that sadly I’m all too familiar with, is not tolerated or trivialised”, while Bradley encouraged followers not to “blindly defend us” but “be both sensitive and understanding to the frustrations of those that are hurt”.
Payne said he was “deeply sorry for causing such hurt”, while Minter said he is “genuinely” sorry “from the bottom of my heart” and that “it won’t happen again”.
Brown added: “I’d like to apologise personally and sincerely to the South Asian community for my lack of action in the situation, particularly having spoken passionately against racism before.
“Regardless of context or intent, the word should never have been said, allowed to be said, and then even upon edit allowed to be kept in. It showed a huge amount of ignorance on our part as to exactly how offensive it is.”
Lewis is yet to issue a personal statement addressing the incident, and guests Chunkz and Yung Filly haven’t commented publicly either.
In 2015 KSI released a video apologising for a trend he created known as the “rape face”, saying it was “something I should never have made light of” and that he “fully” regrets it.