Usher Defends Justin Bieber: 'He Is Unequivocally Not a Racist'

Usher Defends Justin Bieber: 'He Is Unequivocally Not a Racist'
Justin Bieber and Usher
Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP

updated 06/07/2014 at 01:00 PM EDT

originally published 06/07/2014 01:30PM

Justin Bieber's mentor is still defending the embattled pop star.

Usher – who famously beat out Justin Timberlake to sign the then 13-year-old to his label – posted a statement to Instagram on Saturday, throwing his support behind Bieber as footage of him telling racist jokes continues to leak.

"At my core, I am a person that supports growth and understands without judgment, that growth often comes as a result of pain and continues effort. As I have watched Justin Bieber navigate difficult waters as a young man, I can tell you that he hasn't always chosen the path of his greatest potential, but he is unequivocally not a racist," he wrote, also posting a throwback photo showing his arm wrapped around Bieber.

"What he was 5 years ago was a naïve child who did not understand the negative power and degradation that comes from playing with racial slurs," the statement continues. "What he is now is a young man faced with an opportunity to become his best self, an example to the millions of kids that follow him to not make the same mistakes."

Bieber, now 20, is in hot water after an old video of him using a derogatory slur surfaced Sunday. A second clip showing him inserting "n––––" into the lyrics of his hit "One Less Lonely Girl" was released Wednesday.

The singer, whose recent bad boy behavior has caused legal woes and public controversies, apologized hours after the first video went public.

"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," he said in a statement. "Once again … I'm sorry."

Usher's Instagram comes after a Nylon Guys interview in which he stood by Bieber's other indiscretions.

"Do I turn my head in shame based off of what I see, what I know? Nah, I don't because it's all part of life's process," he told the magazine. "Am I in it with him? Yeah."

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