John Legend Urges America to 'Wake Up' in New Op-Ed on Race


John Legend continues to prove why he’s so great, writing a new op-ed for Billboard that tackles race in America and the recent police brutality protests happening across the country in light of the Ferguson and Eric Garner grand jury decisions.

In the piece, Legend starts off citing the inspiration behind “Glory,” his collaboration with Common that soundtracks Ava Duvernay’s upcoming film about Martin Luther King, Selma. Much of it is rhetoric that we’ve heard before, but it’s Legend using his platform to address key issues and campaign for reform. The singer writes:

As I watched the final version of Selma, I did so with the backdrop of the streets of many of our major cities filled with protesters, crying out for justice after yet another unarmed black person’s life was taken by the police with impunity. After the events of the past few weeks, in Ferguson, Mo.; Staten Island; Phoenix; and Cleveland, things feel eerily the same. While it is important to recognize and acknowledge racial progress through the years, it is also clear that we are far from King’s dream of equality and justice for all.

He then rattles off the various holes in the system, including economic disparities:

We still have a huge wealth gap rooted in decades of job, wage and housing discrimination. Voting restrictions that disproportionately affect the poor, minorities and youth are in place and growing. A persistent gap between black and white student achievement points to an education system that fails to provide a ladder of opportunity for everyone. African-American communities are being crushed by a criminal justice system that over-polices us, over-arrests us, over-incarcerates us and disproportionately takes the lives of our unarmed youth because of the simple fact that our skin, our blackness, conjures the myth of a hyper-violent negro.

John Legend is one of the entertainers who’s always vocal on Twitter when it comes to social and political issues (let’s get him and Jesse Williams into a room. I’ll moderate), even debating notable dick Piers Morgan about the N word.

Legend ends the piece by promoting the value of protesting:

Obama recently told the young activists gathered in the Oval Office to “think big, but go gradual.” His words reminded me of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s reluctance to tackle voting rights, as depicted in Selma. Despite Johnson’s qualms, civil rights activists refused to wait for a more convenient political time. They took to the streets and used grass-roots organization and the moral force of their argument to create better conditions so the legislation could pass. We can’t wait for gradual and incremental change. Our government is a democracy, by the people and for the people. It is time for the people to wake up, stand up and demand change.

Image via Getty

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