John Legend opens up about experience with racism: ‘Was treated like I didn’t belong there because I was black’
EGOT winner John Legend has said that while he realises that his ‘life now is not the experience of the average black man’, it did not use to be like this when he was a young man.Updated: Jan 24, 2020 19:56 IST
American singer John Legend has opened up about the struggles he faced in his career due to the colour of his skin. In support of the National Day of Racial Healing, the singer spoke with People magazine about his personal experiences about discrimination.
John said: “I’m in a position of privilege and celebrity and all these other things, so there’s a lot of doors that open for me that aren’t open for other people. People recognise me and treat me a certain way because they recognise me. I’m clear that my life now is not the experience of the average black man. I’m fully aware of that.”
He said the hardest time for him was when he was at the University of Pennsylvania as one of the things he noticed about the college was how people treat one as an outsider around campus if they aren’t aware that you’re a student.
“I had several interactions with the police where they questioned my right to even be where I was, to get in my own car ... So that was where I felt it the most in west Philadelphia around the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, being treated like I didn’t belong there because I was black. No one ever says it. But it’s obvious that they don’t do white students like that and ask for their ID just to get in their own car and question their belonging,” he added.
And while it has been some time since the singer attended the university, his younger cousin is still dealing with the same problems there.
Legend said: “Someone called the police on her just for existing in a building where the person didn’t think that she belonged. It’s not unique to UPenn. You see these stories all over the internet, and people experience them all the time. Black people and other people of colour have to prove that they belong in circumstances that other people don’t.”
However, he has begun to educate himself on the issues at an early age as he understood that there were certain challenges that black people had in society.
But in the end, it is his culture that makes John the artist he is today. “I wouldn’t be the artist I am if I weren’t black. I wouldn’t have the experiences I have, wouldn’t have the upbringing I have. I wouldn’t trade it,” he added.
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