Two noteworthy entertainer-activists are addressing America’s racism issues head-on. Pals John Legend and Jesse Williams have each used their clout as a Grammy-winning singer and longtime “Grey’s Anatomy” actor respectively to become outspoken about the issue of Black oppression.
In a sitdown with the Atlantic, the pair, who have either given a speech demanding answers for the discrimination Blacks endure or used Twitter to criticize the Commander-in-Cheif and his son, addressed what they feel is going on with the country’s race problem.
“The issue of racism has been such a foundational part of America’s history because of slavery and the caste system that slavery established, and almost no institution or historical aspect is free from that stain,” Legend said. “There may be different ways of discussing it now because of social media — I think the conversation is more elevated and transparent than it used to be — but we have to realize that this has always been a huge issue of contention and conflict in America. We had the Civil War, the civil rights movement, decades of lynchings and the KKK — we’re not more polarized now than we were in the past.”
Williams added that the internet has provided people of all backgrounds with more knowledge and access to what’s going on noting, “They have to work harder to weave narratives that make it sound like we’re delusional.”
Regarding where we are today, the actor acknowledged that although he’s “inspired,” he thinks things are “ugly.”
“Nobody wants to look at this guy [Donald Trump] talk and kick up this fervor and bring out the worst in everybody,” he said. “That’s unpleasant. It’s like a body detoxing — the oils come out and the pimples come out, and it stinks and it’s nasty, but it’s a part of the process of purging our body. I welcome it in that sense, but we have to stay vigilant because people are still suffering and prisons are still full of Black and brown folks.”
Indeed, the prison population in America remains overwhelmingly filled with Black men in particular. A 2017 study by Washington, D.C.’s Urban Institute revealed that among inmates who were serving the longest sentences, Black men made up the majority.
“I think it could produce a better society if we continue to hold our leaders accountable,” Legend added.