By Julissa Catalan
Justin Bieber is attempting some major damage control following the release of footage in which the singer is seen telling a racist joke.
In the video—obtained by TMZ—Bieber asks, “Why are Black people afraid of chainsaws?”
He then uses the N-word several times while mimicking the sound of a chainsaw and giggling.
Click here to watch the clip.
According to TMZ, the video has been in its possession for four years but the gossip website did not release it because Bieber was only 15 at the time the video was shot.
Bieber, now 20, issued a public statement in which he apologized for the racist joke.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Bieber has been the subject of plenty of negative media attention in recent months, having been arrested twice with a third investigation still pending.
In January, the star was arrested in Miami after being pulled over for street racing. He was charged with a DUI (testing positive for marijuana and Xanax), resisting arrest, and driving without a valid license.
A week later, Bieber was arrested again—this time in Toronto—on assault charges following an altercation with a limousine driver who picked up the pop star along with five friends outside of a nightclub. The limo driver was reportedly struck on the back of the head several times while driving, before pulling over and calling the police.
That same month, police searched Bieber’s Los Angeles home after his neighbor’s house was reportedly egged, resulting in $20,000 worth of damage. As of May, the L.A. district attorney wanted to charge Bieber with a felony.
Bieber’s racist joke follows a string of other celebrities who have recently made headlines for some form of public racism.
Nick Cannon debuted his whiteface alter ego while promoting his newest album, White People Party Music. When accused of being racist, Cannon replied, “It’s funny how people take themselves so seriously. People love drama! We feed off of it. Just relax and have fun!!”
Meanwhile, rapper Macklemore apologized for offending while insisting he didn’t even intend on appropriating a culture with his costume in the first place.