In a recent Instagram post, Bieber, whose streetwear brand Drew draws heavily from black American street fashion, admitted that he would not be the artist we know and love him today if it were not for black American culture, and is "committed to using his platform" to "speak up about racial injustice and systemic oppression."
“I am inspired by Black culture,” he wrote. “I have benefited off of Black culture.”
“My style, how I sing, dance, perform, and my fashion have all been influenced and inspired by Black culture. I am committed to using my platform from this day forward to learn, to speak up about racial injustice and systemic oppression and to identify ways to be a part of much needed change.”
Similarly, 29-year-old 2NE1 member and K-pop singer CL wrote in an Instagram post that the K-Pop industry is no different. “Artists, directors, writers, dancers, designers, producers, stylists in the K-Pop industry are all inspired by black culture whether they acknowledge it or not.”
“The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the first album my dad bought me. Beyoncé's Dangerously In Love was the first CD I bought for myself. Janet Jackson taught me the power of movement of dance and expression. Missy Elliot is why I am so obsessed with my video visuals.”
“Some of the biggest inspirations for 2NE1 were Destiny’s Child and TLC. There are just some of the examples of the core women who have inspired me over the years… I would like to encourage all the K-Pop fans to give back and show their love and support for all that we have received from Black artists.”
But, the problem isn’t just the way non-black artists profit off black American culture but the way the music industry unfairly categorises and advertises music and genres by the colour of an artist’s skin.
In 2014, FKA Twigs called out her R&B label for describing her as “alt-R&B” because she was biracial. Backstage at the 2020 Grammys, Tyler, The Creator criticised the term “urban” to describe an artist of colour, claiming that the description is nothing short of “a politically correct way to say the n-word.”
In a recent interview with GQ, Billie Eilish agreed with Tyler, The Creator’s comments, acknowledging that there is a problem with the way the music industry unfairly labels people’s music by their ethnicity.
“I agree with him about that term,” she told GQ. “Don’t judge an artist off the way someone looks or the way someone dresses. Wasn’t Lizzo in the Best R&B category that night? I mean, she’s more pop than I am.”
“Look, if I wasn’t white I would probably be in ‘rap’,” she reflected. “Why? They just judge from what you look like and what they know. I think that is weird. The world wants to put you into a box; I’ve had it my whole career. Just because I am a white teenage female I am pop. Where am I pop? What part of my music sounds like pop?”
Since the tragic death of George Floyd in the hands of police, Justin Bieber has used his platform to educate and inform his 138 million followers on the Black Lives Matter movement and how they can help. In the last week, the “Yummy” singer has shared resources on how to be an anti-racist ally and how to celebrate what would’ve been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday last Friday, as well as information and updates on the George Floyd case.