Justin Bieber is under fire after a video of him making a racist joke surfaced online. The clip, which was released by Britain’s The Sun, was reportedly shot as part of his 2011 documentary “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” when he was 15 years old.
“Why are black people afraid of chainsaws?” says Bieber, who is now 20. Despite being urged off-camera by a friend to not finish the offensive joke, he delivers the racist punchline: “Run n****r.”
The Sun reports that Bieber’s camp knew about the video and offered to pay to stop its release.
TMZ claims it was offered the video four years ago, but decided not to post it because Bieber was 15 and immediately had regrets.
The “Boyfriend” singer is reportedly “frustrated and sad” and plans to address the controversy in the next day.
Kenny Hamilton, Bieber’s bodyguard at the time, has come to his defense. “As a black man I am telling the world that @justinbieber is not a racist,” tweeted Hamilton. “I have known him since he was 12 years old and I know his heart.”
UPDATE: Justin Bieber has released a statement via Twitter apologizing for his “childish and inexcusable mistake.”
“As a young man, I didn’t understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt,” he said. “I thought it was OK to repeat hurtful words and jokes, but didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t funny and that in fact my actions were continuing the ignorance.”
Read what he had to say below.