Justin Bieber Says He's Not Trying to Be a 'White Savior' As He Addresses 'MLK Interlude' Controversy
“I was willing to go through as much hate by putting that on the album because I know there’s a bigger purpose.”
Justin Bieber is addressing the controversy surrounding the track, “MLK Interlude,” which is featured on his latest album “Justice.”
While speaking in his first-ever Clubhouse room on Tuesday, the singer opened up about his new LP and explained why he decided to include Martin Luther King Jr. speech clips on the album.
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“Being Canadian,… they didn’t teach us about Black history. It was just not a part of our education system,” Bieber said when asked about how he thinks his music could play a role in social advocacy, per Billboard. “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 added.
MLK’s words are featured on the track “MLK Interlude” as well as the five-second intro to “2 Much,” the song which opens the album. According to Billboard, Bieber used Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “But If Not” sermon for “MLK Interlude,” while the “2 Much” intro came from MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
During his Clubhouse chat, Bieber shut down claims that he was “trying to be a white savior” by sampling Martin Luther King Jr’s speeches, noting that he decided to include MLK’s sermon to “amplify” the “incredibly, touching speech.”
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“I was willing to go through as much hate by putting that on the album because I know there’s a bigger purpose,” Bieber said. “I’m not trying to be a white savior. My heart is just to amplify Martin Luther King’s voice.”
“I want to keep growing and learning about just all social injustices and what it like for me to be better, what it looks like for my friends to be better,” he continued. “And I know I have a long way to go.”
The “Holy” singer also weighed in on the criticism over the placement of “MLK Interlude” as the song is slotted next to the track, “Die For You,” which is about Bieber’s wife, Hailey.
“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?'” Bieber 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.”
Bieber announced his sixth album back in February. At the time, Bieber spoke about the inspiration behind “Justice.”
“In a time when there’s so much wrong with this broken planet we all crave healing and justice for humanity,” he wrote on Twitter. “In creating this album my goal is to make music that will provide comfort, to make songs that people can relate to and connect to so they feel less alone.”
“Suffering, injustice and pain can leave people feeling helpless,” he continued, adding that “music is a great way of reminding each other that we aren’t alone” and “can be a way to relate to one another and connect with one another.”
“I know that I cannot simply solve injustice by making music but I do know that if we all do our part by using our gifts to serve this planet and each other that we are that much closer to being united,” Bieber concluded. “This is me doing a small part. My part. I want to continue the conversation of what justice looks like so we can continue to heal.”
While Bieber may have received a wave of backlash for sampling MLK speeches on his album –which has since hit number one following its March 19 release date — one special person, in particular, showed her support for Bieber: MLK’s daughter, Bernice King.
“Each of us, including artists and entertainers, can do something,” she tweeted earlier this month. “Thank you, @justinbieber, for your support, in honor of #Justice, of @TheKingsCenter’s work and our #BeLove campaign, which is a part of our global movement for justice. #MLK #EndRacism.”
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