This particular John Mayer apology was issued during a concert in Nashville (February 2010), a few days after the following statement was made during a Playboy interview:
Someone asked me the other day, 'What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?' And by the way, it's sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a n----r pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, I can't really have a hood pass. I've never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, 'We're full.'
Mayer was also forced to apologize to actress Holly Robinson Peete for statements he made about her in the very same Playboy interview.
John Mayer Apology #1
Re: using the 'N word' in an interview: I am sorry that I used the word. And it's such a shame that I did because the point I was trying to make was in the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it, because I realize that there's no intellectualizing a word that is so emotionally charged.
Later that month on a stage in Nashville, the John Mayer apology continued:
In the quest to be clever I completely forgot about the people I love and the people that love me.
I decided I would be as clever as possible all the time and I did that at the expense of people I love and that feels absolutely terrible.
You can see/hear his Nashville apology in the video below:
And then, in subsequent posts on the internet, John Mayer added to his apology:
I should have never said the word and I will never say it again.
Finally, in a Rolling Stone interview (in January), the multi-layered John Mayer apology acknowledged how difficult it is for him to avoid making similar mistakes:
I will continue to make these worldwide dignity mistakes as often as it takes to not make them anymore.
John Mayer Apology #2
During the very same playboy interview, Mayer went on to offer personal opinions (generalizations?) about how beautiful African American women are, and then complimented Holly Robinson Peete for being so gorgeous. Robinson Peete was initially flattered by the compliment, until she read the entire racially charged interview.
As she explains,
I was disgusted and offended....I foolishly and impulsively commented (to E!) on a sound bite from an interview that was sent to me by a girlfriend and I didn't know the context at all. Clearly, after I understood how John Mayer's comments were bookended by racial insensitivities and this racially charged, rambling diatribe that denigrated black women, it became a whole other animal....I feel disgusted by it. I went from flattered to flat-out pissed.
When Robinson Peete was asked whether the John Mayer apology was directed at her personally, she offered the following admission:
...He was very remorseful about the fact that I was inadvertently tangled up into this mess. He reached out to me via email.... He did not apologize for his comments.... At this point, it doesn't feel right for me to totally accept his apology. It's time for him to really just drop the frat boy act and take responsibility for everything that he said, no matter how painful it's going to be for him.Holly Robinson Peete
It is tough to separate the two mistakes (and many believe he made more than two in this particular interview).
With respect to his apology for using the "n" word, and his subsequent statements/actions in public and on stage, it appears to the PA team that Mayer did understand the magnitude of his mistake, accepted responsibility for them, and followed up with genuine efforts to convey his sorrow and a commitment to change.
However, with respect to the John Mayer apology to Robinson Peete and African American women more generally, if Peete hasn't accepted the apology who are we to question her assessment?