When it was only one video, hearing Justin Bieber using the n-word was easier to dismiss. Chalk it up to being young, dumb and making a terrible decision. He issues an apology, goes back to being Lil Wayne’s brother* and we all keep on living.
But now, a second video surfaced today with the pop star using the n-word – with a scoop of KKK thrown in for good measure – and I’m left wondering if Bieber’s past is going to keep biting him in the ass in the worst way.
In the short clip, the singer alters the lyrics to a 2009 song, “One Less Lonely Girl,” subbing in “n***er” for “girl.” He closes out the tune with the line “If I kill you, I’ll be part of the KKK” while a few laughs and giggles can be heard off camera. According to TMZ, Bieber was only 14 when this newly released clip was filmed.
When I was 14, I’m pretty sure I did at least one or two dumb things. Thankfully, my world wasn’t overrun with cameras recording every idiot move I made. If there had been, me and just about anybody else would have been screwed, too. At 14, I knew right from wrong, like we’ll assume Bieber did, and I still did wrong anyway. Right now, I have my own 15-year-old who makes mistakes when I’m around so that means way more is probably happening when I’m not keeping a watchful eye.
Which leads me to the next questions here. Where was his mom? Okay, I can answer that myself by assuming she was still in Canada, having given Scooter Braun a level of guardianship over the kid as his manager and allowing him to move to ATL to pursue his career. So, where was Scooter? Who was off camera laughing and goading him along? Who’s filming and going along with the idea that using the n-word was “cool” and funny?
And, is this really who Justin Bieber is?
I’ll wager that it probably isn’t. Just like everyone else tends to do, Bieber’s probably lived, learned and matured in terms of understanding race and history. Granted, he’s done more than his fair share of ignorant stuff in the past two years that shows he needs to understand his power of his celebrity, the attention it attracts and how quickly it can all be stripped from him. He’s of age now and doing dumb shit could cost him way more than a dated video from his youth.
Don’t misunderstand and think he’s getting a pass. Nope. Not being overly dismissive either. However, I just can’t get too fired up over a famous kid’s past versus bigger injustices going down on a daily basis. The old saying of “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” comes to mind as I write this. If a video from last week surfaces with him yelling the n-word, I know I’ll be forced to eat my words.**
Don’t let me down here Bieber.
Update: A rather important wrinkle in the story now. Gawker’s reporting that TMZ has been blackmailing Bieber for several years with their knowledge of these video clips. What the outlet got in return was “appearances on TMZ’s media properties and cooperation with stories.” Read the full story over at Gawker.
* — As fate would have it, Bieber hangs around with YMCMB. The same group of folks whose members once rapped “beat it up like Emmitt Till” and had a pic of Malcolm X with “looking a$$ n****” as the caption. I’m less offended by Bieber than any of them.
** — Why couldn’t it be Miley Cyrus instead? Can we get a n-word video for her and so we can punt her back to her Disney world?