You can now add Whoopi Goldberg to the long list of black celebrities who’ve come to Justin Bieber’s defense for using the n-word. The View co-host adamantly excused Bieber’s use of the word, only because he’s Canadian.
“A video has surfaced, or resurfaced, of a 15-year-old Bieber telling a racist joke, and everybody’s up in arms. He’s issued an apology saying he was too young to understand—and he’s Canadian. There’s a reason I say this,” explained Goldberg on The View on June 2. “You know, Canadian word—I’m going to say the word, so get ready to beep me. ‘N—ger’ doesn’t mean anything in Canada.”
Sherri Shepherd responded by asking, “What does it mean in Canada? Groceries?”
Goldberg went on to explain her point of view.
“Black Canadians and black Americans are two separate groups of people,” Goldberg stated. “And how do I know this? Well, I did a movie last year in Canada. And a young, wonderful Canadian woman wrote it, and I’m reading it and I’m thinking, ‘We would never say a thing like this,’” said Goldberg.
“So I went to the director and I said, ‘What is this?’ And he said, ‘Oh, she lives here.’ And I said, ‘So she doesn’t know anything, she doesn’t get what we’re talking about. So we had to make adjustments, and that’s just the way it is.
“I don’t mean to say Canadians have been throwing it around. I don’t think that when they hear the songs everyone is playing, and every other word is ‘n—ger,’” she said. “What I’m saying is that, when you are 15 and you’re someplace where that’s not a word that you have associated with people of color, they weren’t calling them that.”
Plenty of people on social media begged to differ and were ready to school Goldberg on Canadian history, even after Goldberg offered clarification on the site:
Maybe now Goldberg realizes that the n-word has a negative connotation everywhere. And no, not all black or Canadian people use the n-word.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.