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John Legend's Open Letter To NY Post

John Legend's Open Letter To NY Post

The New York Post has apologized for a Sean Delonas cartoon that supposedly compared President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee.

The drawing showed two policemen over the body of a chimpanzee they’ve just shot as one officer says, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

Neo-soul John Legend had written an open letter to the NY Post about it:

Dear Editor: I’m trying to understand what possible motivation you may have had for publishing that vile cartoon depicting the shooting of the chimpanzee that went crazy. I guess you thought it would be funny to suggest that whomever was responsible for writing the Economic Recovery legislation must have the intelligence and judgment of a deranged, violent chimpanzee, and should be shot to protect the larger community. Really? Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee? Did it occur to you that our President has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon?

(Click inside to continue reading John Legend‘s letter…)

If that’s not what you intended, then it was stupid and willfully ignorant of you not to connect these easily connectable dots. If it is what you intended, then you obviously wanted to be grossly provocative, racist and offensive to the sensibilities of most reasonable Americans. Either way, you should not have printed this cartoon, and the fact that you did is truly reprehensible. I can’t imagine what possible justification you have for this. I’ve read your lame statement in response to the outrage you provoked. Shame on you for dodging the real issue and then using the letter as an opportunity to attack Rev. Sharpton. This is not about Rev. Sharpton. It’s about the cartoon being blatantly racist and offensive.

I believe in freedom of speech, and you have every right to print what you want. But freedom of speech still comes with responsibilities and consequences. You are responsible for printing this cartoon, and I hope you experience some real consequences for it. I’m personally boycotting your paper and won’t do any interviews with any of your reporters, and I encourage all of my colleagues in the entertainment business to do so as well. I implore your advertisers to seriously reconsider their business relationships with you as well.

You should print an apology in your paper acknowledging that this cartoon was ignorant, offensive and racist and should not have been printed.

I’m well aware of our country’s history of racism and violence, but I truly believe we are better than this filth. As we attempt to rise above our difficult past and look toward a better future, we don’t need the New York Post to resurrect the images of Jim Crow to deride the new administration and put black folks in our place. Please feel free to criticize and honestly evaluate our new President, but do so without the incendiary images and rhetoric.

John Legend

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# 1
hahalooloo @ 02/20/2009 at 4:05 pm


# 3

Nicely done, Mr. Legend. I wish everyone in the entertainment industry showed that kind of conviction and could do so half as articulately as you just did.

# 4
Best believe @ 02/20/2009 at 4:08 pm

Way to go JL!

# 5
Kate the so-so @ 02/20/2009 at 4:11 pm

Well, he went to UPenn – you know he’s definitely not dumb. This letter just makes me like him more. He’s smart, good looking, passionate and can sing his — off.

# 6

beautiful. perfect. poignant. The NYP should be ashamed … it’s obvious to everyone outside and inside the US that a “black” president has ruffled more than a few feathers.

# 7

Thank you, Mr. Legend, for your articulate letter. You addressed the issue of racism without resorting to vulgar name-calling, and stooping to the level of the New York Post.

# 8

I saw many compare George W. Bush to a monkey the 8 years he was President.

# 9

Good on John. It was quite obvious how blatantly racist that cartoon was. Shame.

Good for you John. Well done. Peace

GWB is a monkey, and should go to hell for what he’s done in the Middle East.

wow that was a very good letter. he seems very articulate and intelligent. glad it wasn’t some dumb kanye west, p diddy babble…

#8 that is true…but bush was compares cos he has silly like a monkey, just like naughty cildren r called monkeys but black people are compares for their looks to monkeys which is totally wrong and soould not be done. also bush is an ******* who killed many people which is y he gets so much hate, but obama has not done anything wrong….yet!!!

#8, good point, I never thought about that. So now that your new president is black, the monkey comparison is offensive..? I do agree that the cartoon is very wrong but #8′s point makes me think twice now.

Rita & Gertrude, you BOTH lack emotional intelligence.

lol jane

Rita i agree it makes sense too that bush was compares to monkey but black people are compared for diff reasions and with all the history of racism and slavery, this is totally different and should not be done because now race is the theme!!!!

Well said.

This is the first time ever writing a comment on any website at all. I do not like to be a part of the bashing that occurs most of the time regards to anything in entertainment, politics, etc. But I could not pass on saying that what JL wrote is truly truly perfect!!! It’s truly unfortunate that there is still so much negativity in this world. I’ve never really listened to John Legend before, but I certainly am now. Kudos to you John.

Bush may have been compared to a monkey but how many times was that monkey shot and killed? Just like John Legend says it’s not just the monkey aspect, it’s the killing of the monkey by police (which calls up a lot of famously controversial racially charged stories). John’s letter is spot on.


Maria (Shorty) @ 02/20/2009 at 4:33 pm

To compare Bush to a monkey was insulting to the monkey! Monkies are very intelligent creatures — Mr. Bush was and still is NOT!

Love John and after reading his letter to The Post, I love him even more.

I think it’s laughable when people say ‘George bush was called a monkey when President” so, they’re doing the same thing with Obama.

On that logic if Bush was called a ******…it’s okay to call Obama a ******?…

They are racist and just trying to be “cute” about it.

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