I never thought I’d say this but I sort of like Justin Bieber. Which is weird for me to say, especially after his long history of racist remarks as a kid. I remember several clips of him using offensive language and changing the chorus to his song “One Less Lonely Girl” by substituting “girl” for the N-word. Now, a changed man, he has apologized via Instagram saying, “As a young man, I didn’t understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt. 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. I was uneducated and said hurtful things.”
At the time I didn’t believe any of this. Too many brands, celebrities and companies have issued blanket statements in response to Black Lives Matter movement “trending.” In my opinion, it is all talk and no action. I brushed it off when Justin Bieber said, “I was a kid then and I am a man now who knows my responsibility to the world and to not make that mistake again.” But now that I see him actively standing against racism on Instagram, my feelings towards him are nearly positive.
On all of his social media platforms he recognizes that racism is still very prevalent and real in many communities around the nation. I also appreciate that he admitted he has benefited from Black culture, “My style, how I sing, dance, perform, and my fashion have all been influenced and inspired by Black culture. I am committed to using my platform from this day forward to learn, to speak up about racial injustice and systemic oppression, and to identify ways to be a part of much-needed change.”
The great thing is, unlike many other celebrities, he has consistently followed up on ways to speak against hate. He recently called for the arrest of the Louisville officers who killed Breonna Taylor and posted about George Floyd’s death. I believe in second chances and doing the right thing. I also believe in holding yourself accountable and owning your mistakes. Even though he hadn’t got it right for so long, he seems genuine in wanting to use his platform for good and his pursuit to protest against racism and police brutality seems consistent and not performative. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, Justin.
Photo via Jens Astrup/AFP/Getty