Justin Bieber Says Canadian Schools Did Not Teach Black History
Justin Bieber on Tuesday accused Ontario schools of not educating him about Black history.
“It was just not a part of our education system,” the 27-year-old said on Clubhouse.
Bieber was responding to criticism – some of it citing his past racist language – about the inclusion of two soundbites of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on his new album Justice. It opens with a clip of MLK saying “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and includes a track titled “MLK Interlude.”
Bieber, who described himself as “coming from Canada and being uneducated,” said he wanted to use his platform “to just share this raw moment of Martin Luther King Jr. in a time where he knew he was going to die for what he was standing up for.”
Bieber attended Jeanne Sauvé Catholic School and St. Michael Catholic Secondary School in Stratford, Ont.
In 2014, Bieber apologized publicly after videos surfaced in which a 15-year-old Bieber used a racist slur. In one clip, he told a joke and repeated the N-word five times in the punchline. In another, he sang his hit “One Less Lonely Girl” but replaced the last word with the N-word. He repeated it three times and then sang: “There’s going to be one less lonely n**** if I kill you.”
The singer added “I’ll be part of the KKK” before using the N-word two more times.
In a statement at the time, the singer called the joke a “reckless and immature mistake mistake” and said he didn’t fully understand “the power of certain words and how they can hurt” when he was younger.
“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,” he said then.
The View host Whoopi Goldberg chalked up Bieber’s use of the N-word to his Canadian upbringing. “N***** doesn’t mean anything in Canada,” she said. “Black Canadians and Black Americans are two separate groups of people.” (Goldberg later tweeted: “Canadians, I was saying the N-word is not something that lived in Canada the way it lived here, part of American history.”
In 2012, Bieber told Rolling Stone: “I’m actually part Indian. I think Inuit or something? I’m enough per cent that in Canada I can get free gas.” He was swiftly criticized for using the outdated term “Indian” and educated that Inuit, who are not considered First Nations, do not get free gas (nor do First Nations).
On Tuesday, Bieber said he is keen to grow and learn about “all social injustices and what it looks like for me to be better, what it looks like for my friends to be better.”
He said he is willing to take the “ridicule or judgment of people” for putting MLK’s voice on Justice. “I love that when people are listening to my album, these conversations are coming up and they’re like, ‘Well, how is he going from Martin Luther King Jr. into a love song?’
“I’m not trying to make a connection between me and Martin Luther King Jr.”
Prior to the album release, Bieber told reporters in a virtual conference that he included the MLK clips to amplify the civil rights leader’s words to a new generation. “Being Canadian, it wasn’t so much a part of my culture,” he said. “His message was that a lot of people can be afraid to stand up for what is right, but if you’re not standing up for justice — for what is right — what are you doing with your life? I’m sorry to get so deep, but these are the times we’re living in.
“That’s why I wanted to make this album because I think it’s very timely and very necessary.”
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