YouTuber Liza Koshy apologizes after backlash for videos mocking Japanese accent

"What might have been intended as ‘playful’ was actually to some, incredibly painful," the internet personality wrote in a post on Instagram.
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YouTube star Liza Koshy has apologized for "perpetuating racist ideas" after two clips resurfaced on TikTok.John Shearer / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

YouTube star Liza Koshy says she is “taking accountability” for promoting racist stereotypes in some past videos.

The actress and social media personality, 24, came under fire this week after two now-deleted videos from 2016 posted with her then-boyfriend, fellow YouTuber David Dobrik, resurfaced on TikTok.

In the videos, she and Dobrik sample Japanese and Hawaiian candy while pretending to speak Japanese.

“It’s not racist, that’s like the sound I hear when they talk,” Dobrik says in one video.

“It’s not racist as long as I keep saying no,” Koshy replies.

TikTok user callmesukiwi recently shared the clips in a video with the caption, “Why is no one talking about this? It’s a clear example of the normalized racism against Asians.”

The TikTok with the resurfaced clips racked up more than 73,000 likes, with many people calling out the YouTube stars in the comments for perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

“It's pretty ridiculous how the mocking of Asian culture is so normalised 🤦 how is this even funny??” commented one TikTok user named Sarah Liu. “Please respect our language and culture.”

“Asian accents are already so stereotyped,” wrote another, Eileen Chen. “I definitely remember being made fun of in this exact way growing up.”

On Monday, Koshy issued a lengthy apology on her Instagram page, which has more than 18 million followers.

“While we focus on systemic anti-Black racism in our country, I've been hesitant to center my voice," Koshy wrote. "My work has been within but I now recognize and take responsibility for the times I was not the ally I am becoming today. Being anti-racist requires a personal reckoning, and I can’t in good faith continue to use my platform for progress without taking accountability myself.

“What I once thought of as ‘innocent jokes’ were actually tainted with implicit bias," Koshy wrote.Stephane Cardinale / Corbis via Getty Images

“I am taking inventory, taking initiative and taking note that my impact and influence will weigh greater than my intention,” she continued. “What I once thought of as ‘innocent jokes’ were actually tainted with implicit bias, and what might have been intended as ‘playful’ was actually to some, incredibly painful. And for that, I am so sorry.”

She went on to write: “As a woman of color and a self-defined ‘little brown girl,’ I have experienced the harm of prejudices in my own life. However, this reality does not exempt me from the responsibility of acknowledging the times I’ve unknowingly perpetuated racist ideas.”

Koshy also said while she “created characters of different cultures with the intent of celebrating,” her actions had the “impact of appropriating them.”

“IMPACT outweighs INTENT,” she wrote. “I am sorry to the beautiful communities that I have caused hurt within.”

Koshy rose to fame on the video-sharing platform Vine in 2013. Today, she has more than 17 million subscribers on YouTube and stars in the YouTube web comedy series “Liza on Demand.” Last year, she was included on TIME’s list of "The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet."