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John Legend on His Political Nature: ‘I Don’t Separate It from Life’

John Legend (Columbia Records promo)

John Legend (Columbia Records promo)

John Legend doesn’t “separate politics from life.” He makes that clear in a new interview where he touches on the rape accusations of Nate Parker and Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem.

While speaking to Complex, Legend explained he has always been bold about speaking up on racial issues.

“Do you follow me on Twitter?” he asked. “I’ve never been shy about it. I’ve never been shy about the fact that I’m a citizen and a community member.”

Legend’s outspokenness is prominent on social media.

“I don’t separate politics from life,” he said. “I think it matters.”

The politics have poured into his career as well, showing up in music he created for the Ava DuVernay-directed film Selma.

On the TV front, his Get Lifted Film Company is set to produce a series on Black Wall Street for WGN network. The production group previously produced the hit series “Underground,” which follows enslaved Africans’ escape along the Underground Railroad.

Elsewhere in the interview, Legend addressed Nate Parker’s comments about hyper – or Black – masculinity. Parker explained to Ebony he had no knowledge of that concept or consent before marrying and starting a family.

“Clearly there’s been a mythology built around Black masculinity that sees us as sexual predators – more violent, more impervious to violence being enacted upon us,” Legend told Complex. “You see that in the way we’re treated by the police. You see that in the way our sexuality is depicted.

“Obviously that is a concern,” he continued. “I don’t know how you undo those stereotypes – how you undo the many years of indoctrination. A lot of it is so unconscious that people don’t even know they feel it.”

He also discussed the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick.

Legend said he thought it was “great” that the San Francisco 49er was talking about the oppression of African-Americans.

“The reality is he’s protesting Black men and women… getting shot by police when they’re unarmed,” he said.  “And those police facing no consequences. Just think how tragic that is for a society: that the state can kill you with no repercussions.”

The singer has an idea about why so many football fans are upset about the protest: posing a “threat to the status quo.”

“People only like it in retrospect. [Martin Luther King Jr.] was unpopular while he was alive – he’s only popular now because he’s dead and not a threat to anyone. But he was a threat to the status quo back then.”

“They’ll police your protest more than the things you’re protesting against,” he went on. “Which is the real [source of] oppression. I feel like people are doing the same thing with Kaepernick.”

“You’re upset that he’s kneeling down in peaceful protest, but you’re not upset by what he’s protesting against?”

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