Just days after a 2011 video of pop star Justin Bieber telling a racist joke surfaced, another clip of the singer wielding the slur has hit the web. Like last time, a teenaged Bieber is spotted on tape making an offensive “joke,” but this time the punch line centers on killing “n–gers.”
According to a video obtained by the British tabloid The Sun, Bieber changes the words to his 2009 hit “One Less Lonely Girl” to “One Less Lonely N—er” and jokes about joining the KKK.
After the first clip was made public, Bieber issued an apology, blaming his offensive gaff on being young and dumb.
“As a kid, 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,” he said in a statement. “Thanks to friends and family I learned from my mistakes and grew up and apologized for those wrongs. Now that these mistakes from the past have become public I need to apologize again to all those I have offended. I’m very sorry.”
While Bieber may have tried to brush off his tasteless joke as youthful ignorance, this latest video—singing about joining the KKK and killing Black people—seems more sinister.
Some, like boxer Floyd Mayweather have given Bieber a pass for his actions, but others are wondering if we should do away with the n-word all together.
Back in 2011, New York radio personality Charlamagne gave Bieber the go-ahead to drop the n-word when he sings along to Tupac, but now he’s changing his tune.
“I have tried to stop using the n-word because I don’t like being a hypocrite,” Charlamagne told Vibe. “If it’s wrong when we use it, it should be wrong when other races use it as well. It’s hard to get upset at someone for doing the same thing that you’re doing. Plus, I’m 33 and I come from the era of greeting people with “Peace God, Peace Queen. What’s up my brother? How are you sister?”
He continued: “You have to teach people how to treat you. Jewish folks, Asians, gays…they don’t allow anyone to disrespect them and they don’t disrespect themselves. I’m not ok with Justin Bieber making that joke. It always hurts when you hear someone using the N word. That’s how you know—no matter how you try to flip it and bounce it, ‘nigga’ is not a term of endearment.
“I don’t care if it’s -er or -ga at the end—it’s a word with too much blood attached to it to ever be positive.”
Some have tried to make a case for using the n-word, asserting the power has been “stripped” from the slur, while others argue Black folks have “reclaimed” the word. But as Charlamagne notes, the n-word has “too much blood attached to it to ever be positive.”
The n-word is not a term of endearment, it is not a term of pride, it does not make people feel better when they hear it, and the bloody history of the word has yet to disappear into the ether. Dr. Maya Angelou called the n-word “poison,” and argued it was “created to divest people of their humanity.” And she was right.
While some lobby for the right to use the n-word, those same people are often offended when it’s hurled as an attack.