J Balvin apologizes for music video featuring Black women on leashes

"I want to say sorry to whomever felt offended, especially to the Black community," Balvin said on Instagram Sunday.

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White Colombian reggaetón star J Balvin went live on Instagram to apologize for the imagery in the video for his single, “Perra,” which features Black women on leashes. 

The video highlights Dominican rapper Tokischa, who is of African descent, as she vocalizes about being a dog in heat. 

Reggaetón star J Balvin (above) went live on Instagram to apologize for the imagery in the video for his single, “Perra,” with Dominican rapper Tokischa, which features Black women on leashes. (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

In the “Perra” clip, directed by Raymi Paulus, Balvin and Tokischa went all-in on the song’s theme, with depictions of Black women on all fours while wearing leashes. Other dancers and actors are featured in animal-inspired makeup that made them look like dogs. 

According to screen images and a report from TMZ, Tokischa herself is, at one point, depicted in a dog house, and she even eats from a dog bowl. 

The apology from the hitmaker came after Colombia’s Vice President and Chancellor Marta Lucia Ramírez condemned the imagery. 

In an open letter earlier this month, Ramírez and the Presidential Council for Women’s Equity condemned the song and its “denigrating” video, writing that it violates women’s rights and affects their dignity. It mentions the imagery showing the Afro-descendants with dog ears, tied with neck chains and crawling across the floor as if they were animals or slaves.

“As if this were not enough, the lyrics of the song have direct and open sexist, racist, macho and misogynistic expressions that violate the rights of women, comparing them to an animal that must be dominated and mistreated, with expressions that are not worth it,” says the statement signed by Ramírez, per Newswep

She and the council invited Balvin to make a pact that has commitments for the promotion of women’s rights in music and the prevention of violence against them. 

The vice president also noted an incident that took place in Medellin, Colombia, in which a man paraded a woman by her neck through a city square, writing, “These two events are serious and warrant strong response actions because they reproduce, incite and justify violence against women by promoting the violation of their rights, the affectation of their dignity and the normalization of denigrating positions or imaginations that internalize, undervalue and objectify their body and show them as an object owned by men. Furthermore, the events reported may promote sex tourism and trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation.” 

In his Instagram Story apology Sunday, Balvin said he didn’t mean for the video to be degrading, contending that he was trying to support Tokischa.

“I want to say sorry to whomever felt offended, especially to the Black community. That’s not who I am,” Balvin said. He added that his work “has always been about tolerance, love and inclusivity.”

The original “Perra” video has since been removed from Balvin’s YouTube channel, but edited-down versions are still on the site. 

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