John Legend Reflects on His Experiences with Racism
John Legend has earned remarkable success throughout his ever-booming career, but that doesn’t mean the superstar hasn’t faced his fair share of challenges as a result of racism.
Speaking with PEOPLE in support of the National Day of Racial Healing, established by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (an organization that aims to provide children and youth with equal opportunities), Legend opened up about his personal experiences with discrimination.
“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,” Legend, 41, acknowledges. “People recognize me and treat me a certain way because they recognize me. I’m clear that my life now is not the experience of the average black man. I’m fully aware of that.”
Legend, who is currently reigning as PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive, said that his harshest encounters with racism were experienced during his time as a college student while attending the University of Pennsylvania.
“One of the things that I noticed the most at college was how if people don’t know you’re a student, they treat you like an outsider around campus,” he recalls. “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,” says the singer. “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.”
The entertainer, who has now gained EGOT status (an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) for his remarkable work, says he’s now helping his cousin, who is currently attending the University of Pennsylvania, navigate the same discrimination he faced years ago on campus…….read more