Celebrity scandals come in many forms. There are relationship scandals (whether they actually cheat or are just pretty sh*tty partners). There are social media feuds that escalate beyond subtweets and into full-blown rivalries. There are scandals at a global level.
Some scandals are about what celebrities do; some are about what they say. These 20 celebrities were called out for speaking way out of turn and saying something(s) racist. And some of them will surprise you…
17. Girl with No Job
Claudia Oshry, known originally as the content creator behind the popular @GirlWithNoJob meme account on Instagram before becoming a talk show host for Oath’s daily live stream show “The Morning Breath,” has received a haunting visit from her past. When a damning article came out about Oshry’s mother and painted her as an extreme right-wing, anti-Muslim activist, Oshry and her similarly-social-media-famous sisters shared sentiments distancing themselves from her views. However, old Twitter posts were soon unearthed that contained Oshry’s own anti-Muslim statements. Both Oshry and her sister Jackie Oshry (aka @jackieoproblems) have issued apologies on social media, but Oath has since canceled “The Morning Breath.”
16. Paula Deen
The queen of adding pounds of butter to any dish knows all about making a mess in the kitchen — and isn’t so great about keeping her public image clean, either. First, a former employee of Paula Deen Enterprises brought charges against Deen and her brother for sexual and racial workplace discrimination. During the investigation, evidence was found of Deen using the n-word, making racist and anti-Semitic jokes, and considering hiring Black waitstaff to dress as Civil War-era slaves at a wedding. Two years later, after losing her contract with Food Network, Deen posted a photo of herself and her son dressed in costume in which her son sports “brownface” makeup. Since then, Deen has been a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and has hosted two seasons of a new reality show, Positively Paula.
15. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber went through a rough patch in 2014, with a DUI arrest, a vandalism incident in the form of egging a neighbor’s house, and video footage of himself featuring racist content. The first video showed a five-year-old video of Bieber telling a racist joke and using the n-word in the punchline. The second video, also taken four or five years prior, featured Bieber singing his 2009 hit “One Less Lonely Girl,” but swapping out “girl” for the n-word, as well as making violently racist comments and talking about joining the KKK. Bieber apologized for the mistakes he made as a teen (he was 14 or 15 when the videos were recorded). After partaking in immature and reckless shenanigans for some time, Bieber has been more well behaved in the past couple years and is now back together with Selena Gomez and attending church regularly.
14. John Mayer
In an interview with Playboy, John Mayer was asked if black women “throw themselves” at him. In response to what is also undeniably a racist question, Mayer said, “My d*ck is sort of like a white supremacist,” going on to say that he should date separately from this appendage since he does find some black women attractive. He also tried to explain in the interview that because he has a “hood pass,” thanks to his Black fans, he should be allowed to call it a “[n-word] pass.” Mayer shared an apology on Twitter saying, “Re: Using the ‘N word’ in an interview: I am sorry that I used the word. And it’s a shame that I did because the point I was trying to make was the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it, because I realize there’s no intellectualizing a word that is so emotionally charged.” Ah, an “apology” where he somehow stroked his own ego by calling himself an intellectual while trying to apologize for being a dumbass.
13. Iggy Azalea
If you want to talk about a celebrity who had a scary number of racist and homophobic tweets going out to the vast public that came back to bite ‘em in the butt, you can talk about Iggy Azalea. The singer/rapper, who blew up with “Fancy” back in the day, quickly fell out of favor when her racist and homophobic social media was publicized. While her music and image are often seen as cultural appropriation, her Twitter was full of anti-Asian comments. She later pulled out of a performance at the Pittsburgh Pride Parade in 2015 and apologized for her past commentary. Though she’s put out new music since then (as recent as February — yes, one month ago!), Azalea hasn’t been able to dig herself out of the hole created by her insensitive and derogatory comments.
12. Giuliana Rancic
In an episode of Fashion Police covering the 2015 Oscars, host Giuliana Rancic made inappropriate, racist comments regarding actress and singer Zendaya’s appearance. In commenting on Zendaya’s dreadlocks, Rancic said the hairstyle made her look like she smells like patchouli oil or weed. Zendaya posted a response on Instagram, noting that she wore her dreadlocks on the red carpet to show people of color that their hair is good enough for Hollywood, and she called Fashion Police out for not learning the difference between being funny and being disrespectful. Rancic apologized on Twitter, claiming the comment was rooted only in a bohemian-chic fashion choice, not race. OOOOKKAAAYYY.
11. Kelly Osbourne
Fellow Fashion Police host Kelly Osbourne got caught in her own racist comment mishap when she was responding, ironically enough, to racist views publicized by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump (see next). In an attempt to refute Trump’s proposed immigration policies, Osbourne stuck her foot in her mouth by saying, “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?” Osbourne apologized for the poor choice of words on Facebook but did not apologize for being racist, as she stated that she is not.
10. Donald Trump
Unfortunately, when it comes to the President of the United States, there are all too many examples of racism to draw from. In fact, according to a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, more than half of Americans think Donald Trump is racist. Trump is known for speaking his mind on Twitter in comments that often come across as crude and offensive toward people of color, women, and citizens of other countries (such as the ones he referred to as “sh*tholes” and the one he wants to pay for a wall between their border and the U.S. border).
In an uncharacteristically insensitive move, Rihanna made a racist jab at Chris Brown’s former girlfriend, Karrueche Tran, shortly after Rihanna and Brown released “Birthday Cake” together. Brown was dating Tran before he and Rihanna officially got back together, and Rihanna quoted a “Birthday Cake” lyric in an Instagram caption, “Ima make u my bitch” accompanied by a photo of a bag of rice cakes wearing sunglasses and large hoop earrings. This imagery was perceived as intent to represent Tran, who is half-Vietnamese. Tran fired back on Facebook, and Rihanna then tweeted lyrics supposedly dissing Tran for considering herself to be a model. Rihanna’s photo and tweet are still online.
8. Chevy Chase
In a profile in The New Yorker, actor and rapper Donald Glover alleged that Chevy Chase had made racist remarks toward him when on set of TV show Community. Dan Harmon, the creator of the show, supported Glover’s claims, explaining he felt Chase was acting out due to jealousy of Glover’s talent. Chase said that it “saddened” him to find out that Glover perceived that he’d been insensitive toward him during the filming of the show.
7. Mel Gibson
Though far from the only one, Mel Gibson is certainly one of those celebrities who seems most well known nowadays for publicly going off the rails. Some of these public instances included, among other bad decisions, racist comments. When arrested in 2006 for a DUI, Gibson claimed that “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Voicemails left for his ex-wife Oksana Grigorieva went public in 2010, featuring Gibson ranting that he wished she would be sexually assaulted by a pack of [n-word]s, and another in which he used an insulting term to address people from Mexico. What a guy.
6. Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen also had expletive-filled voicemail to an ex-wife go public, two years before Gibson’s. Denise Richards made the explosive voicemail public herself, during a custody battle with Sheen over their daughters. Sheen’s message included the use of the n-word and the c-word alongside a proliferation of f-bombs. Sheen issued a public apology for his choice of words, in particular to Tony Todd, an African American who was best man at Sheen’s first two weddings. However, the apology was tinged by Sheen by adding a “for the record” explaining away the use of racist words as a result of the frustration he was feeling in his custody battle. Still doesn’t make it okay, dude.
5. Chelsea Handler
In a Twitter feud (where else), Chelsea Handler insulted Nick Cannon by using a racial stereotype. After Chelsea dissed his comedy tour, Cannon responded that he used to respect her, but that would no longer be the case. Then Handler tweeted a photo of a can of grape soda, telling Cannon to drink it before he spoke to her again. Years later, while making fun of the “black love” article featuring Nick and his then-wife Mariah Carey on E!, Handler also made fun of Cannon for “acting like a white boy.”
4. Paris Hilton
Journalist and author Neil Strauss covered Paris Hilton’s alleged racism in his book, “Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead.” Neil met with the heiress when she was 18, and among the egregious comments, he said Hilton made was “I can’t stand black guys. I would never touch one. It’s gross.” She apparently went on to say she wouldn’t date anyone who was even 1% Black. Although some people think the teenager was speaking purely for shock value and to raise her fame, there are recorded incidents of an older Hilton making both racist and homophobic comments, as well.
3. Miley Cyrus
The former Disney star has had multiple brushes with racism over the span of her career, both as a teenager and a young adult. In a photo with friends at age 16, Miley Cyrus was called out for mocking Asians by making intentionally slanted-eye faces. She has been accused of cultural appropriation on various occasions, whether it’s one of the many times she’s worn dreadlocks or some of the imagery in her music videos. Her use of the term “mammy” on stage at the MTV VMAs, a traditionally Black term for grandmother, was heavily criticized as well. Cyrus has also been criticized for racial insensitivity during her 2015 feud with Nicki Minaj over Minaj’s “Anaconda” video, and her comments regarding her denouncement of hip-hop in 2017. In a Billboard article, she said, “That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my c**k’ – I am so not that.” Yikes, Miley. Many say she profited off of her black cultural appropriation, but once the money dried up, she left the community she used behind.
2. Jesse James
During Jesse James’s marriage to actress Sandra Bullock, allegations of an affair between him and model Michelle McGee were made even worse when photos of McGee in Nazi regalia and proudly sporting white supremacist tattoos went public in 2010. Not long after that, a photo taken in 2004 of James himself surfaced where he was wearing a Nazi SS officer’s hat and doing the “Sieg Heil” salute while also using his other hand to emulate Adolf Hitler’s infamous mustache. James said the photo was taken merely for its shock value but it’s still so uncool.
1. Tila Tequila
The pop culture sensation (thanks to reality TV and social media) Tila Tequila lost much of her luster after the fall of MySpace and the end of her show, A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila. However, she’s remained a controversial presence online with her inappropriate social media posts. Some examples include an Instagram photo of her daughter sporting an imitation of a Hitler mustache, her defense on Twitter of her use of the n-word, several tweets stereotyping Black people as Walmart shoppers who “just smoked a blunt,” and posting an Instagram caption about riding around Texas to “hunt down these damn illegals.” Like, WHO in their right mind thinks those words are okay?