Usher has remained quiet in the wake of Justin Bieber’s racist videos. But the R&B singer is finally speaking out in defense of his protégé.
He took to Instagram on Saturday to address the controversy and insist that Bieber is not a racist.
“At my core, I am a person that supports growth and understands without judgement, that growth often comes as a result of pain and continues effort,” wrote Usher. “As I have watched Justin Bieber navigate difficult waters as a young man, I can tell you that he hasn’t always chosen the path of his greatest potential, but he is unequivocally not a racist.”
The two videos, which leaked online this month, show a 15-year-old Bieber making racist jokes and singing his hit “One Less Lonely Girl,” but replacing the word “girl” with the N-word.
“What he was 5 years ago was a naive child who did not understand the negative power and degradation that comes from playing with racial slurs,” added Usher. “What he is now is a young man faced with an opportunity to become his best self, an example to the millions of kids that follow him to not make the same mistakes.”
Bieber has since apologized for the offensive jokes. “As a young man, I didn’t understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt,” he said in a statement. “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.”
In addition to Usher, Mike Tyson, Mack Maine, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, and Soulja Boy have also voiced support for Bieber.