John Legend and Chrissy Teigen were caught off-guard by a paparazzo's racist comment last week, but now they're speaking out about their experience. While at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport, the couple ran into a photographer who compared Legend to a monkey. Yes, really. In 2017.
"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," Legend told Variety at Sundance Film Festival this weekend. "He basically called me a monkey."
Teigen tweeted about the encounter last Thursday, explaining that she had been answering the photographer's harmless cooking questions when he suddenly let loose the "fucking disgusting" insult. But because paps "live for" dramatic moments, she and her husband had to keep their cool despite the situation.
"Black folks have had to deal with being called monkeys for a long time," Legend continued. "Dehumanization has always been a method of racism and subjugation of black people. 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."
"I’m not hurt by someone saying that to me because I’m smarter, I’m stronger," he said. "I look down on that person that would say something like that, but it’s a shame that still exists."