Darius Rucker Was 'Shocked' Following Morgan Wallen's N-Word Controversy: 'Racism Still Lives'

"It's shocking how prevalent it is. Racism still lives. It lives strong in some people and it's sad," Rucker tells PEOPLE's People in the '90s podcast

Darius Rucker
Photo: Noam Galai/Getty

Darius Rucker was "shocked" after Morgan Wallen was caught on tape using the N-word.

Speaking on the latest episode of PEOPLE's PEOPLE in the '90s podcast this week, Rucker, 55, shares how he reacted after Wallen used the N-word to describe one of his friends, leading to his ineligibility for several awards and being dropped by country radio.

"I know Morgan and I like Morgan," Rucker says on the podcast. "It's one of those things where you know that all over the country, there's a lot of people who use that word just flippantly."

"And even if they say they don't mean it in a derogatory way, you just don't use it. You don't say it," he adds. "It's shocking how prevalent it is. Racism still lives. It lives strong in some people and it's sad. It should be getting better and it's getting worse."

Rucker's comment on Wallen's controversy comes a couple months after the Dangerous country singer shared a video of himself playing "Sand In My Boots" with Eric Church and HARDY as Rucker watched.

In July, Wallen revealed on Good Morning America that he went to rehab for 30 days in San Diego to work on himself following the racial slur incident.

For 30 days, I spent some time out in San Diego, California, you know, just trying to figure it out ... Why am I acting this way? Do I have an alcohol problem?" he said. "Do I have a deeper issue?"

Wallen tried explaining the situation in the controversial video, saying that he and his friends would "say dumb stuff together" and "in our minds, it's playful. That sounds ignorant, but that's really where it came from, and it's wrong."

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He added that he didn't use the word frequently, and he "didn't mean it in any derogatory manner at all" when he directed the racial slur at a friend while they were "clearly drunk."

In an online-only additional clip, Wallen added, "I said this word out of ignorance. Because I said it, it doesn't mean that I think you should follow my lead by any means. And I hope that all my fans, and whoever thinks that I'm someone to look up to, that they know that that's not in my heart and that's not something that I condone or that I think that they should be doing either."

He continued, "I've told a lot of people sorry to their faces. But I wanted to let people know who I am and how much I regret the mistake I made. I was just ignorant about it. I don't think that I ever really thought through it, you know. I don't think I sat down and was like, 'Hey, is this right or is this wrong?'"

"My thinkin' was off," Wallen concluded. "I was flawed in that, and just the whole situation was flawed for me. And I'll take complete responsibility and accountability for it."

In an apology post shortly after the scandal, Wallen indicated that he'd spoken with Black-led organizations and was committed to working with them on educating himself on racist behavior. "I let so many people down," he said at the time. "I let my parents down and they're the furthest thing from the person in that video. I let my son down, and I'm not okay with that."

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