Justin Bieber Defends Friends To Fan, Raises Wider ‘Racism’ Issue

Justin Bieber recently defended his friends in a strong statement posted to his Instagram account that raised the issue of racism.

The 19-year-old was replying to a fan’s comment at a now deleted Instagram post in which the fan criticized the singer’s choice of friends as reasons for his headline-making behavior this year.

The fan, “@iheartdabiebss,” later identified as Tatyana Burris, was in fact responding to another commenter and attempting to defend Justin.

However, she did so by blaming the heartthrob’s pals for leading him astray.

“I’m realizing he is growing up and I’m realizing he is changing, but in my head I just see this ‘team’ as a bad influence,” Tatyana wrote.

“And it kills me thinking,’What if Justin goes down the wrong path and just messes up his career?’ I know he won’t — I know he is a smart man, but I’m not so sure hanging around these types [of] people will keep him on the track of success,” she added.

Burris didn’t specify one problem friend in particular but focused criticism on Bieber’s “whole team” and “all the recent people he has been hanging out with,” while bemoaning the singer growing up in general.

Although Tatyana didn’t explicitly say her issue with Bieber’s friends was to do with their skin color, many of the comments at the Instagram page did talk about their race and this may be why Bieber addressed the issue.

The Canadian’s response read:

“It’s not your place to judge. God put these people in my life for a reason, and just because they are African American that makes them a bad influence? These are the people that I love and all of us are going to help make the world a better place.”

Within 24 hours of the Instagram going up it pulled in over 330,000 hits and ignited a huge debate among fans, split where they stood on the issues raised by both Bieber and Tatyana.

Those issues include the intersection between fans and idols and whether an entertainer’s private life should be dissected by fans and media. Express and implied racism were also seen as in play. Some commenters at sites such as Perez Hilton’s zeroed in on Burris’ reference to “these type of people” as subtle racism, while others argued her African-American ethnicity absolves her of that.

Over recent months, media outlets — in particular tabloid, gossip sites, and sports sites — as well as fans have cited the singer’s friendship with rappers and black people generally as part or all of the reasons for Bieber’s troubled 2013.

Radar Online, The Hollywood Gossip, and notably TMZ, ran narratives that often targeted rapper Lil Twist and Lil Za as engineers of Bieber’s exploits while accusing the teen singer of trying to be ‘gangsta’.

Rent-a-mouth celebrities like Sharon Osbourne have slammed Bieber as “lost” and someone who “doesn’t realize he’s white and not black,” while Chris Brown previously claimed some of the censure Justin receives is due to his embracing of black culture.

As noted by Headlines and Global News, and agreed here, Bieber seems more than aware of the conversation around his friends and the thinly veiled racism (“he’s acting black”) seen from some commentators and many commenters — and is offended by it.

Whether it was appropriate for Bieber to repost Burris’ comment and user name is arguable since she posted it publicly.

Regardless of its lack of overt racism or possibly other, it seems Justin has simply reached his limit with personal criticism this year, and felt sufficiently offended to raise the difficult subjects of race, racism, and boundaries with fans who do not know his friends.

Sound off below.

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