June 07, 2014 2:08pm PT by Mitchell Peters, Billboard.com
Usher Breaks Silence on Justin Bieber’s Racist Jokes
Usher, who first introduced his protege Justin Bieber in 2009, posted a message on his Instagram account Saturday in defense of the 20-year-old pop star, who has been under fire for racist jokes he made as a teenager in two leaked videos.
“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 [sic] effort,” Usher wrote in a message that was accompanied by a photo of the two artists.
“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,” he continued. “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. 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.”
Other celebrities who’ve defended Bieber include 50 Cent, Soulja Boy, Floyd Mayweather, Russell Brand and Whoopi Goldberg. Last week, Bieber issued a public apology for his tasteless jokes, where he spouted the N-word multiple times. "As a kid, I didn't understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt," he said in a statement that was issued quickly after the first video leaked on June 1.