Last week, Justin Bieber got shit when he used clips of Martin Luther King Jr. speeches to introduce two of the songs on his latest album, Justice. Critics pondered why he’d use the audio at all, especially as a lead-in for a love song about Hailey Bieber. They accused him of being faux-woke and cashing in on Black Lives Matter. Conversely, MLK’s daughter Bernice King was all for it. On Tuesday Justin finally responded to all the criticism during an interview on the Bieber Nation Clubhouse.
Bieber Nation co-founder, Kristal Terrel, asked him how he believed music could play a role in social advocacy. Justin responded by talking about his own past ignorance:
“Being Canadian,… they didn’t teach us about Black history. It was just not a part of our education system,” he told the nearly 8,000 people in the Clubhouse room. “I think for me, coming from Canada and being uneducated and making insensitive jokes when I was a kid and being insensitive and being honestly just a part of the problem because I just didn’t know better. For me to have this platform to just share this raw moment of Martin Luther King in a time where he knew he was going to die for what he was standing up for.”
He paraphrased the first line of MLK’s “But If Not” sermon from 1967, saying:
“I say to you this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.” But for the singer, he said he was willing to endure “as much hate by putting that on the album” for the bigger purpose it serves in speaking to what justice looks like.
Justin says he wasn’t attempting to be a white savior, he was trying to “amplify” MLK’s “incredibly touching speech.” And what about Justin putting an MLK clip before the love song “Die For You”? He insists he wasn’t trying to compare MLK’s willingness to die for his cause to his own willingness to die for wife Hailey:
“I want to keep growing and learning about just all social injustices and what it looks like for me to be better, what it looks like for my friends to be better. And I know I have a long way to go. 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 into a love song?’” he said. “I’m not trying to make a connection between me and Martin Luther King. That’s why I never try to talk about social injustice or I didn’t want to be the one to talk about it because I just have so much more learning to do. But I have this man who was ready to die and what he believed to be true. If I’m not willing to face some sort of ridicule or judgment of people wondering my motives or whatever that is, for me, it was a no brainer.”
So he’s basically saying that he’s not trying to address social justice issues cuz he still has learning to do. And he included the MLK speeches to honor MLK and “amplify” his message? And he loves that the controversy is getting people talking? Okie dokie, I think that’s as much as we’re gonna get from him.
The real question is how does Justin Bieber keep getting embroiled in controversy with long-dead historical figures? First Anne Frank, now Martin Luther King Jr.? Who’s next? Che Guevara? Malcolm X? Princess Di? Don’t do it, Biebs, we’ve already milked every last drop out of that poor woman’s memory. Let her rest!