06/07/2014 11:49 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:05 EDT

Usher Defends Bieber: 'He Is Unequivocally Not A Racist'

Justin Bieber's mentor Usher finally broke his silence on the controversy swirling around his protégé since the release of two five-year-old videos of the Canadian pop star making racist jokes and using the N-word. On Saturday, June 7, Usher posted a photo to Instagram with the following statement.

“At my core, I am a person that supports growth and understands without judgement, that growth often comes as a result of pain and continued 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.

“What he was 5 years ago was a naive child who did not understand the negative power and degradation that comes from playing with racial slurs. 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.”