The 38-year-old R&B singer's wife Chrissy Teigen tweeted last week that a photographer made a racial slur when they landed at JFK airport in New York City. "Paparazzi at JFK just asked me 'if we evolved from monkeys, why is John Legend still around?" she wrote.
On Saturday, Legend addressed the alleged comments made by the paparazzo during an interview with Variety Studio at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. "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," he said.
"Black folks have had to deal with being called monkeys for a long time and dehumanization has always been a method of racism and subjugation of black people," he added. "That’s just part of American history and it’s part of the present, apparently. We saw it with the former president, [Barack] Obama. Whenever people wanted to discount him or discount his wife, they compared them to apes. And we’ve seen that frequently."
Legend said the encounter has only made him stronger. "I’m not hurt by someone saying that to me because I’m smarter, I’m stronger," he explained. "I look down on that person that would say something like that, but it’s a shame that still exists."