John Legend is an award-winning singer and songwriter, but he’s quickly becoming as much known for his outspoken thoughts on politics and race in America as he is for his music career.
Legend has previously called out police brutality, our broken criminal justice system and Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric in the past. Now, he’s weighed one of the most controversial stories to emerge in recent months: Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing peaceful protest.
In an interview with Complex posted Tuesday, Legend was asked what he thinks of the backlash against Kaepernick’s decision to not stand during the national anthem. Legend replied that he doesn’t understand why people are so upset, though the backlash isn’t surprising given the way people have reacted to racial protests in the past.
“Dr. King was unpopular while he was alive ― he’s only popular now because he’s dead and not a threat to anyone,” Legend said.
“But he was a threat to the status quo back then and the people, the so-called ‘moderates’ used to say, ‘Well, we’re with you, but you gotta be more patient. We’re with you, but you shouldn’t protest like this.’”
The singer and activist went on to explain that the problem with the reaction to Kaepernick is that “they’ll police your protest more than the things you’re protesting against, which is the real [source of] oppression.”
“The reality is [Kaepernick is] protesting black men and women ― people of color ― getting shot by police when they’re unarmed, and those police facing no consequences,” Legend added. “Think about how corrosive that is for a society if we allow that to continue to happen? You’re upset that he’s kneeling down in peaceful protest, but you’re not upset by what he’s protesting against?”
Kaepernick, who is quarterback for the 49ers, began protesting during the national anthem at his football games on August 14. He has inspired several professional and student athletes alike to follow his lead. Since he began, at least 15 black people have died as the result of encounters with police.
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