John Legend “faced a lot of challenges” growing up.
The 40-year-old singer has said he was subjected to racial discrimination throughout his younger years, especially when he went to college in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as he would have “occasional encounters with police” that made him “question [his] belonging.”
Speaking to People magazine after being named 2019’s Sexiest Man Alive by the publication, he said: “We faced a lot of challenges but I think my mother and father prepared me well for the challenges that I faced.
“I loved going to Penn, but occasionally you’ll see things that happen in social media right now and it reminds me of things that happened to me when I was in college. People treating you like you don’t belong there or asking for your ID when they wouldn’t ask for a white kid’s ID.
“… Asking me to prove that it was my car that I was getting into in West Philadelphia. Things like that, just occasional encounters with police and with people who questioned your belonging.”
The “All of Me” hitmaker knows that many other black students face the same experiences, and knows how “dangerous” the incidents can be.
“I think a lot of black students deal with in college. The scariest thing is when police are called and you never know how that can escalate. Particularly with people of color, we’re often seen as dangerous even when we’re not. When that suspicion is added to any circumstance, it can be dangerous for us,” he added.
Now Legend has two children of his own, three-year-old Luna and 18-month-old Miles, with his wife Chrissy Teigen – who is half Thai, half Norwegian-American – and has said he’s excited to see how their different cultural backgrounds will manifest themselves in their brood.
“It’s interesting because our kids see all their grandparents quite a bit. They have a white grandparent who’s 80-years-old, a Thai grandmother who’s a lot younger and plays with them all the time. They have my mom and my dad, and they get a little bit of different vibes from all of them.
“I think their lives are going to be interesting in that way because they’re going to get different cultures. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. I think it’ll be a cool thing for them growing up to get exposed to so many different things.”