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James Charles Addresses His Ebola Tweet, Anti-Blackness and Working With People Of Color

Recently Covergirl’s first cover boy James Charles has seen a lot of backlash since his Ebola tweet that caused a frenzy on Twitter. He gave us an interview to address many concerns people have about him.

What were you thinking when you tweeted what you did?

My friend confused E. Coli and Ebola for each other. I thought the mistake was funny, so I tweeted the conversation, but I posted it without realizing what the tweet as a whole was implying.

How come you didn’t educate yourself about South Africa before going?

I do know a little bit about South Africa. We are going on an educational tour, so I was waiting to be able to learn in person. Researching prior honestly did not even cross my mind. I like to be surprised when I travel.

Do you really think Africa is just Ebola?

No, absolutely not. I am aware that only a few countries in Africa actually had cases of Ebola, and I also know that South Africa was not one of them. I was making what I thought was a joke, but it wasn’t funny and was just plain offensive.

People saw your tweet as racist, do you consider what you said racist?

Yes, what I said implied that I was going to contract Ebola when going to South Africa. That stereotyping is offensive and not okay.

How come you deleted the tweets, and your apology? Why do you think your new apology is more sincere?

I deleted the tweet within 4 minutes of it originally going up. People called me out very quickly for my mistake so I deleted it to avoid conflict. Of course, the internet lives forever. When this was all going on originally, I was sitting on the plane getting ready to take off. I posted a half-ass apology, and it wasn’t taken well, so I deleted everything right before I took off hoping that it would just go away. Clearly it didn’t, and when I landed I saw what was going on. I don’t want anyone to think I was avoiding the situation or didn’t realize what I said was wrong – I did not have wifi on my flight. I realize what I said was completely wrong and I want people to know that I recognize that I messed up big time. I hope that my apology, which openly admitted to originally posting a BS PR apology, and contained a mistake calling Africa a country instead of a continent (proving that no 3rd party proof read it), comes off as sincere and real. It was straight from me, and I feel awful.

Do you realize your privilege as a white man? Before you’re gay, you’re white

Yes, absolutely. It’s an unfair privilege that I would never want to take advantage of, and unfortunately today I made a tweet that did exactly that.

Do you thinks there’s  anti-blackness in the LGBT+ community?

Absolutely.

Do you think a lot of people of color are overlooked in the make-up world?

Some of my favorite pages to follow are POC artists, and the lack of representation is sad. Skin color has absolutely no correlation to how talented someone can be with makeup and it’s frustrating to watching solely white people make it to the top. I seriously hope that in the future the industry will continue to be more and more diverse.

Why do you align with people who have said racist things in the past like Jeffree Star?

Jeffree and I have hung out one time. We had beef over seven months ago on twitter, in which I actually called him out for his racist actions. The videos of him released were from 12 years ago. That does not excuse his behavior AT ALL, however I did not know Jeffree 12 years ago, I know him now. We were able to move past our drama but that does not mean that I agree with what he has done in the past. Unfortunately, time machines do not exist and neither of us can take back what we have said. The only thing that can be done now is apologize and learn from our actions.

Do you realize that you have privilege in the make-up world? A lot of people of color are overlooked

Absolutely.

Aside from this tweet, many people think you’re problematic for many reasons, do you think you’re?

I’m a 17 year old kid. I like to think of myself as mature, but I’ve definitely said many things in the past that I regret and that are problematic. My age is not an excuse to be a brat, but that being said, I’ve had much less life experience and time to educate myself on these type of issues.

Why don’t you speak on important topics? You’re apart of the LGBT+ community?

I do tend to keep my mouth shut on important topics. As I said, I’ve said many things in the past that I regret, and twitter definitely does not forget them. To be 100% honest, I tend to keep my mouth shut out of the fear that I will word it wrong and offend people.

I’m very proud to be a part of the community and do a lot behind the scenes, but public opinions have always been something that is scary to me.

Many people said you use Black slang like shook and profit from it, how come you don’t instead use your platform to boost people of color?

My merchandise line that was released used terms and quotes that I’ve seen and used on twitter and in real life for the past several months. They are terms that I’ve seen used by everyone, with no connotation to race. That being said, my line will be shut down within the next few weeks to undergo many changes.

How will you use your platform to bring change? You being a boy and Covergirl isn’t enough

I honestly have no idea. I’m not gonna sit here and lie and say I have a plan or an idea because I don’t. I have made a lot of mistakes and I have a lot of thinking to do.

I’ll have 10 days on this trip to educate myself and learn.

I always love to push people to be creative and inspire others and accept others for who they are, but clearly I’m being hypocritical whilst preaching that. I can assure everyone that this will not be leaving my mind for a very long time and my mistake will not be taken lightly.

What do you want people to know?

I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking about the implications of my original tweet and I DO realize that it was wrong. I posted an apology via my team and then posted one that was from me because I want to be genuine, and I’m not going to try to bullshit my way through anything. I have a lot of learning to do and I am sorry. I apologized and I will be thinking and working over the next few weeks and the rest of my career to promote POC and all people and cut out ignorance. Many people have not taken my apology well, and I understand why it may seem false, especially because my dumbass called Africa a country rather than a continent. I meant it when I apologized. The only thing I can do right now is learn from my mistake.

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Evelyn V. Woodsen
Written By

Evelyn Atieno is a sometimes journalist who enjoys binge watching Gossip Girl every other month. She has been featured in MTV,Business Insider, Huffington Post and The Baltimore Sun

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