John Legend sat down with Jon Stewart on Monday to talk about Southern Rites, his upcoming HBO documentary about segregated proms and racism in Georgia. Legend is executive producer on the project.
Legend and Stewart discussed how defensive some conservatives get about whether or not racism still exists in the United States, and an anger some people feel in the subject even being brought up.
“Some racism is very easy to identify, the Donald Sterlings of the world, the people who use the n-word in a malicious way,” said Legend. “But a lot of racism is structural.” He cited examples of structural racism including the way sentencing works in the criminal justice system.”All of these things that end up discounting the value of black lives.”
“We don’t want to talk about racism all of the time. If it weren’t here, if we didn’t have to deal with it every day, we would love for it not to be the subject of conversation,” said Legend.
The musician continued. “We would love not have to keep bringing this up but its killing our kids, it’s resulting in so much pain and suffering for our community so we have to bring it up.” Legend said that structural racism “has its own inertia” so as a society we have to do something active to change it.