Both Justin Bieber and his manager, Scooter Braun, have taken to Instagram to address videos that recently surfaced of the pop star as a young teenager telling a racist joke and changing the lyrics to one of his songs to make it about killing black people and joining the KKK. Bieber has also issued a statement to UK newspaper the Sun, admitting that he needed to “step up and own what I did.”
“Facing my mistakes from years ago has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with,” he told the newspaper (via the Toronto Sun). “But I feel now that I need to take responsibility for those mistakes and not let them linger… At the end of the day I just need to step up and own what I did… Once again I am sorry for all those I have let down and offended.”
“I just hope that the next 14-year-old kid who doesn’t understand the power of these words does not make the same mistakes I made,” added the singer.
Bieber also posted a shot of a page from a religious book that addresses feeling guilty about sinning and includes quotations from the Bible. Braun instead quoted himself – ostensibly in regard to Bieber’s videos – posting a screenshot with this elliptical message: “Some mistakes have no excuses. They are just wrong. But how a man reacts to those mistakes. . . How he owns it and learns from it. . . That defines him more than the mistake itself.”
The Scripture quoted in Bieber’s Instagram deal explicitly with people finding salvation from their sins in Jesus Christ. Two entries cull from the Book of John, with one saying, “The blood of Jesus. . . purifies us from all sin,” while the other quotes Christ in saying, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The other Scripture comes from Isaiah and speaks of God clothing the faithful with “garments of salvation” and “a robe of righteousness.”
Although neither Bieber nor Braun say outright that their posts are acts of contrition in the wake of the pop star’s controversial videos, they posted them one day after Bieber voluntarily shared the second video with gossip site TMZ. In the clip, the then-14-year-old Bieber changes the words to his own song, “One Less Lonely Girl,” to contain lyrics about joining the KKK and killing black people so “there’ll be one less lonely n—-r.” TMZ reported that Bieber decided to post the video in an attempt to thwart would-be extortion attempts.
In addition to facing these controversies, Bieber is the central character in a number of legal matters, including his arrest earlier this year in Miami for allegedly driving under the influence, which was the subject of a Rolling Stone cover story. He also turned himself in for an alleged limo driver assault and became the center of an investigation over an egging that could become a felony.