A video of a 15-year-old Justin Bieber telling a racist joke has surfaced online, with TMZ reporting the video was shot backstage during a promotional event early on in the singer's career.
In the video, the now-20-year-old asks, "Why are black people afraid of chainsaws?" Someone in the background says, "Don't even say it." The punchline involves him repeatedly saying "Run [n-word]."
TMZ says they have had the video for four years, but decided not to release it "because he was 15 and immediately told his friends what he did was stupid." The video was posted yesterday to a British website.
BuzzFeed has reached out to Justin Bieber for comment.
Update, 6:05 p.m., ET: Bieber has issued an apology to TMZ. "I'm very sorry. I take my friendships with people of all cultures very seriously and I apologize for offending or hurting anyone with my childish and inexcusable mistake," he said.
Read the full statement:
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.
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. I take my friendships with people of all cultures very seriously and I apologize for offending or hurting anyone with my childish and inexcusable mistake. 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.
Ignorance has no place in our society and I hope the sharing of my faults can prevent others from making the same mistake in the future. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say but telling the truth is always what's right."
Five years ago I made a reckless and immature mistake and I'm grateful to those close to me who helped me learn those lessons as a young man. Once again....I'm sorry.
Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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