Don’t let the angelic voice or the boyish charm fool you: John Legend isn’t afraid of fight. When it comes to issues he’s passionate about, he’s never backed down from an opportunity to speak his mind.
Sometimes the singer/songwriter does it subtly, through his music, like he did in his collaboration with rapper Common on their Oscar winning song “Glory” for the critically acclaimed Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic “Selma.”
Other times he’s much more explicit, like he is in his advocacy work on behalf of #FreeAmerica, a group he founded to address the prison crisis in America, specifically the mass-incarceration of African American men.
In late March, Legend sat down with British online newspaper, The Independent, for a wide ranging interview about his music, he newfound love of acting, and his new album, Darkness and Light. Then the topic turned to Trump.
He was first asked about the surge in political engagement in America, particularly the role artists play in that process, and he didn’t hold back.
“I think there was no sense of urgency until [Trump] got elected, and now people are genuinely worried about the future of the country,” he said. “I think people had gotten comfortable.”
“Sometimes you need that sense of urgency to spawn a creative renaissance where we really talk about these issues. And between the Black Lives Matter movement and Trump getting elected… BLM really impacted a lot of black musicians and I think Trump getting elected will impact an even larger body of musicians.”
Next he was asked if he thought the President would be impeached. His answer?
“I do think he will, yeah. I think he’s already done enough to be impeached. Now it’s just a matter of when Congress has the guts to do it. And it may not happen until after 2018, but it may happen sooner if enough evidence is presented against him.”
He then offered his thoughts on the man who would replace Trump in the event of his impeachment. Weary of that man’s record on LGBTQ issues in particular, he said, “I’m not super optimistic for a Mike Pence presidency either, but at least I think he’s not insane. He doesn’t seem like he’s a psycho.”
Before the interview concluded, he reflected on why the President succeeded in the 2016 election in the first place, specifically why he was able to appeal to particular segments of the population.
“Donald Trump represents that sense of being ‘put-upon’ and victimhood among the Christian white straight man,” he said. “I feel like they have a bit of a backlash against anything that celebrates another type of existence whether it’s women, LGBTQ, people of color…”
He then summed-up Trump’s America with on final knowledge drop.
There are some that feel like any type of inclusion, any interruption of the overall domination of white men, is some kind of front. Which is weird because they’re still doing fine, they’re still winning. We’re just asking to have a seat at the table!
Unless Trump has some Black, Latino, or gay family members we don’t know about, that doesn’t seem likely.
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.