After using a racial slur targeting the Pakistani community, British rapper and boxer KSI has issued an apology and announced a subsequent social media break.
In a video uploaded to YouTube on Sunday (April 2), KSI was seen along with his group the Sidemen (including Miniminter, Zerkaa, TBJZL, Behzinga, Vikkstar123, and W2S), spoofing the British game show Countdown. The objective was to create the longest word they could from nine letters picked at random, with KSI suggesting the word “P-ki.”
“Alright, look, we need points, and I don’t mean this maliciously,” he said, already bracing for negative backlash before he spoke the word, which was censored out in the posted video.
“It’s so sad to me that the rest of the guys including a fellow south Asian just laugh it off,” one user tweeted. “Sadly there’s not many/if any Pakistanis that have substantial followings to make a case for us and so the wider world just won’t take us seriously when stuff like this happens.”
Shortly following the response, KSI doubled down on his remorse, tweeting and recording an apology uploaded to YouTube. “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,” his tweet read. “I’ve always said to my audience that they shouldn’t worship me or put me on a pedestal because I’m human. Im 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.”
In the three-minute video posted to YouTube on Wednesday, KSI reiterated his regret, stating, “In a recent video, I used a racial term that’s offensive to so, so many, especially in the South Asian community. There are no excuses for what I said and I recognize that I’ve caused a lot of hurt and disappointment to so many people that look up to me.”
The 29-year-old boxer went on to add, “I am genuinely ashamed and deeply sorry for any pain or suffering I have caused. I realized that my words have consequences and as a public figure, I have a responsibility to use my platform for good rather than perpetuating discrimination. And this week, I have failed to do this.”
The day before uploading the YouTube apology, KSI was seen at the Al-Hikam Institute, a mosque in Bradford. “With the intention of malice, even those probably sat on the side, they probably didn’t understand… they might have just been like laughed off,” Imam Muhammed Asim Hussain is heard saying.
The Sidemen issued their own collective statement, expressing shame for letting “ourselves and you guys down in this way.”
“The fact the incident was made light of on the show was wrong and compounded the hurt,” they said. “We deeply regret this and would like to truly apologise … 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.”
The incident led to discourse within the Pakistani and South Asian community regarding the use of P-ki as a slur weaponized abroad to diminish their sense of self-worth and belonging. Many users shared their own stories, noting a generational gap between those who have been at the receiving end of the word and those who have not. “Hearing the words ‘Go home paki’ was sadly too common for both my generation and the generation before and it’s taken a long time to ensure young brown people don’t have to experience what we did growing up,” one user wrote.
See KSI’s full apology video below: