John Legend Opens Up On Being Racially Profiled

John Legend Opens Up On Being Racially Profiled

John Legend shared that he had the harshest racism encounters during his time as a student at the University of Pennsylvania

John Legend has had a very fruitful music career, but that doesn’t mean that he never faced any challenges. John opened up about on his personal experiences with discrimination and racism, he told People magazine in support of the National Day of Racial Healing. He shared, “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 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.”

The musician was named the Sexiest Man Alive by the publication, but added that he experience some of the harshest racism encounters during his time as student at the University of Pennsylvania. He said, “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. 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.”

While John has been both racially profiled and treated differently because of his race, he couldn’t be more proud to be a black man. “There’s so much greatness that comes from black culture and the upbringing that I’ve had. I wouldn’t be the artist I am if I weren’t black, so it’s hard for me to even imagine me not being black. In a way, sometimes the system works when it comes to radio, like how there’s black stations and there are certain kinds of divisions that the music industry puts on itself. Some of those can be a little bit tricky sometimes. But trying to imagine the counterfactual of me not being black — 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.”