Image Group LA/ABCJohn Legend is taking the high road after revealing a recent incident where he was called a “monkey” by a photographer.
Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, first tweeted about the incident, explaining the couple were at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport when a paparazzi began to harass them.
“Paparazzi at JFK just asked me ‘If we evolved from monkeys, why is John Legend still around?’ – and people wonder why celebs lose it in pics,” Teigen wrote after the racially-charged encounter happened.
Legend then recounted the incident at the Variety Studio on Saturday, while promoting his WGN series Underground at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The Oscar-winner explained that although he was initially shocked by the action, he wasn’t altogether surprised by the paps’ ignorant comment.
“We were right next to each other and we looked at each other like, ‘Did he really just say that?’ And he really said it. He basically called me a monkey,” John told the magazine.
“Black folks have had to deal with being called monkeys for a long time and dehumanization has always been kind of a method of racism and subjugation of black people and that’s just part of American history — and it’s part of the present, apparently.”
Fortunately, Legend says that he’s not letting the unfortunate incident bring him down. Instead, he’s taking the high road because now he’s “smarter” and “stronger.”
“We saw with the former president, Obama, whenever people wanted to discount him or discount his wife, they compared them to apes,” he explained.
“And we’ve seen that frequently. I’m not hurt by someone saying that to me because I’m smarter, I’m stronger. I look down on that person that would say something like that. But it’s a shame that it still exists.”
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