Canada’s Drag Race star Rita Baga apologises for blackface performance: ‘I can’t undo what I’ve done’

A screenshot of Canada’s Drag Race star Rita Baga. (BBC/DR Canada Three Productions/Saloon Media Inc/World of Wonder)

Canada’s Drag Race star Rita Baga has responded to resurfaced claims that she did blackface as Glee star Amber Riley during a drag performance more than a decade ago.

The runner-up and soon-to-be Canada’s Drag Race vs The World contestant was called out for her historic behaviour during a discussion on popular podcast The Chop Bloque. 

During the discussion, fellow Canada’s Drag Race stars Icesis Couture and Kimora Amour told viewers about the alleged incident, sparking discourse across social media.

“I can’t see someone who is being elevated to this level. You got to make sure you are someone for the people. You can’t be out there having done things like that. It doesn’t feel right,” Kimora said.

They then called for Rita to issue a truly remorseful apology, make “reparations” and “put Black queens forward in Quebec”.

Taking to social media, Rita posted a long apology, writing: “I can’t undo what I’ve done as a young, privileged and unaware white queen” and explaining they also shared an apology in 2020. 

“I want to be transparent and honest,” she continued, “I’ve been vocal about this numerous times and informed people about it too.”

After some people began harassing Kimora and Icesis for calling Rita out, Rita added: “I respect my sisters. And I will never endorse online bullying.”

Rita Baga also owned up to their past behaviour, admitting they have “used a darker foundation” to portray a black person, and taking pictures with cops being fakely arrested.

After explaining how she now uses her privilege to uplift communities and open doors for other queens, she also issued a plea to the Montreal Drag Community. 

“It’s time to unlearn, learn again, and change. It’s our responsibility. I heard terrible stories about things that have happened in the dressing room where I work the most, I read hateful comments from white co-workers against the QTBIPOC communities, I will be more vocal now.”

Many queens and Chop Bloque hosts have spoken out against the threats and bullying they have received since the accusations resurfaced on 5 November. 

Popular Drag Race YouTuber Bussy Queen did a video about the controversy, without linking back to the full discussion held on Chop Bloque. Kimora responded: “I did this conversation because this situation required a conversation amongst people who understood my perspective and provided and safe space.

“To take content from them without proper referencing and/or giving support is thievery and diminishes journalistic integrity.”

Dragula season four star, Saint, tweeted: “It’s frustrating that as a POC drag performer you can’t just live your dream. Even at the top of the game, there’s someone looking to knock us down. 

“But those people won’t win. They don’t know our grit and strength. We have and will continue to persevere and succeed despite them.”

Some have spoken out in defence of Rita Baga, with drag performer RaJahOHara, saying: “keep my sis name out you mouth!!!”

While Canada’s Drag Race season one star Kiara said: “She owned it! And I forgive her. Already forgave her before.”

Adding in a separate video: “I’m defending her because that makes sense from what I know of her and makes sense from what she’s done more than ten years ago. She already apologised for it and we get it.”