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Justin Bieber admits to benefiting ‘off of Black culture,’ vows to fight racial injustice

(L-R) Justin Bieber and Quavo of Migos in the 'Intentions' music video, which was released on Feb. 7, 2020.
(L-R) Justin Bieber and Quavo of Migos in the 'Intentions' music video, which was released on Feb. 7, 2020. YouTube/ OBB Pictures / Def Jam Recordings

Justin Bieber is using his Instagram following and celebrity status to speak out against racial injustice and systemic oppression.

In a post, the 26-year-old musician acknowledged the fact that he and his music career have “benefited off of Black culture.”

“I am inspired by Black culture. I have benefited off of Black culture,” he wrote on Saturday. “My style, how I sing, dance, perform and my fashion have all been influenced and inspired by Black culture.”

In the message to his 138 million followers, Bieber added: “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 part of a much-needed change.”

The Yummy singer’s statement came nearly two weeks after the killing of George Floyd — a Black man whose death has triggered a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across not only the U.S. but the rest of the world, too.

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Floyd was killed on May 25 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis. He was 46.

READ MORE: ‘Star Wars’ actor John Boyega rallies crowds at Black Lives Matter protest

Since May 31 — six days after Floyd’s death — Bieber has shared various anti-racism posts to his Instagram page in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Among those posts, the Canadian singer shared an image of the late Breonna Taylor last Friday.

Taylor was shot to death by local police in her Louisville, Ky., home on March 13. June 5 would have marked the EMT and aspiring nurse’s 27th birthday.

‘I was more concerned with her washing her hands than dying at home’: Mother of Breonna Taylor speaks out
‘I was more concerned with her washing her hands than dying at home’: Mother of Breonna Taylor speaks out

“Swipe right to see how we can help celebrate her,” wrote Bieber on Instagram, encouraging his fans to help the Taylor family with a number of different resources, including a Change.org petition and the family’s GoFundMe fundraiser page.

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READ MORE: Kanye West donates $2M, starts college fund for George Floyd’s daughter

Throughout his 12 years in the industry, Bieber has collaborated with a variety of Black musicians, songwriters and producers. He’s been featured on countless singles by Black musicians, too, including the likes of Nicki Minaj, Drake, Ludacris, Chance the Rapper, Big Sean, Soulja Boy, Jaden Smith and Sean Kingston, among many other Black talents.

At the beginning of his career, Bieber also performed with singer-songwriter Usher — only months after being discovered by longtime manager Scooter Braun and signed to Raymond Braun Media Group.

Along with Braun, 38, the My Boo singer ultimately helped launch Bieber’s career.

Justin Bieber performs ‘Intentions’ on Saturday Night Live
Justin Bieber performs ‘Intentions’ on Saturday Night Live

On his most recent album, Changes, Bieber featured Black musicians Travis Scott and Kehlani, while also collaborating with a plethora of Black producers, including Poo Bear, Boi-1da and Harv, and the Sorry hit-maker partnered up with Migos rapper Quavo for the radio single Intentions.

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READ MORE: Machine Gun Kelly, Travis Barker cover Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’

In June 2014, however, Bieber became the subject of major backlash after a five-year-old video surfaced of him telling a racist joke in which he used the N-word.

In the video, moments before Bieber uses the word repeatedly, one of the singer’s friends can be heard off-camera warning him not to “even say it,” as heard in the clip originally leaked by U.K. tabloid The Sun.

Following the leak of the video and an outpouring of criticism, Bieber issued an apology, claiming that he didn’t completely understand “the power of certain words and how they can hurt” at the time.

After the protests: How to keep the momentum going
After the protests: How to keep the momentum going

“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.

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“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.”

⁠— With files from Global News’ John R. Kennedy

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca