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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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Posted to: John Legend

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  • hahalooloo


  • hahalooloo


  • Ha!

    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.

  • Best believe

    Way to go JL!

  • Kate the so-so

    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.

  • Justin

    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.

  • Susie

    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.

  • Gertrude

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

  • Maleficent

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

  • http://justjared dina #1

    Good for you John. Well done. Peace

  • Justin

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

  • Jane

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

  • palvasha

    #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 asshole who killed many people which is y he gets so much hate, but obama has not done anything wrong….yet!!!

  • Rita

    #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.

  • Justin

    Rita & Gertrude, you BOTH lack emotional intelligence.

  • palvasha

    lol jane

  • ~m~

    Well said!

  • palvasha

    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!!!!

  • meemee35

    Well said.

  • Jen

    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.

  • flutters

    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.

  • james


  • Maria (Shorty)

    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.

  • joke

    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 nigger…it’s okay to call Obama a nigger?…

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

  • gjc


  • heck

    Learn your history!! WHOLE REASON FOR SLAVERY WAS THE FACT THAT WHITES SAW BLACKS AS SUB-HUMAN PRIMATES—-MONKEYS—who were put on this earth like beasts to serve them.

    They new exactly what they were doing.

    Excellent letter John Legend.

  • jm

    I agree that the racial undertones of this cartoon are truly offensive. However, it’s a little crazy how willing people are to call Bush a monkey and suggest he should go to hell (#11) versus a CARTOON that maybe has a connection to Obama. I’m looking forward to the day when the media’s love affair with Obama and hate for Bush no longer affect everyone’s emotions. Maybe one day we’ll all be able to formulate our own thoughts and feelings about politics, rather than be told what to think by the media. A president is a president, no matter what his race or skin color, and should be respected because of the fact that he is president.

  • marie

    John is always so intelligent. I agree 100 percent with him!

  • lopz723

    Please… has anyone ever heard the saying, it’s so easy a monkey could do it? I think that is the theme of the cartoon. I am so sick of people playing the race card, it wasn’t intended to be racist & I don’t think the NYP should have apologized.

  • jdfj

    Nobody have to “play” any race card if people weren’t so ignorant and racist

  • estelle

    Well Said, bravo to Mr. Legend.

  • Custom T

    John Legend is a genius! He obviously isn’t racist because he’s black too?

  • HMMM

    I never thought of it that way, I guess it would be like calling a man a slut and then calling a woman a slut. Only one person would be truly offended

  • kate

    Love the man even more now!

  • sal

    Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery?

    Well said JL

  • Interesting

    Well said. I agree with it all

  • lakers fan in boston

    u no the times did that on purpose so they can get attention
    honestly i think most of the media does that so they can sell
    ex. obama as a terrorist on some magazine

    i found it pretty funny tbh, i always laugh at jokes =]
    as a hispanic, i find hispanic jokes funny as well
    ppl need 2 laugh sometimes
    but i do agree there r some jokes that really push it, doesnt wasnt 1 imo

    thats why i love the lakers, i love LA, tons of hispanics “i can relate to” there =]

  • jain

    this is an offensive cartoon, so why does this site feel the need to display the offensive cartoon? why do other papers and no doubt the tv stations have to show something so offensive in the name of reporting a story. It’s offensive. full stop

  • Bill w

    That was brilliant. I wish the editor of the NY Post had such obvious intelligence.

  • a realist

    Thank you John Legend. I am appalled and sickened by that disturbing cartoon, the NY Post put up.

    We American citizens should not tolerate it, and we should let the newspapers, and rags know that we will not tolerate it.

    We back our new president 100%. We have his back, and will not tolerate any threats/subtle threats to him.

    President Obama is trying to help us out of a mess he inherited from the Bush Adm.

  • sillyme

    Jared, please do your research. If you read the paper or were up on current events, you would know that the writer of the stimulus bill was Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, not Barack Obama. This cartoon was not about Obama. I guess you, like most other liberals, are always willing to see race in everything. I’m black and even I didn’t think this was about Barack Obama.

    But, I knew this kind of stuff was going to happen once Barack got elected. People, get used to every little thing being about race.

  • Ann

    Blacks have been compared to monkeys since slavery! Of course it’s racist! And Bush?! Give me a break. Go out and call a white perosn a monkey then go call a black person a monkey and guess who’s going to get more offended.

    Well said JL.

  • leftykc

    blacks are so frickin sensitive, every day you hear about someone whining about what some white person say or does, but its okay for a brotha to say something because hes a brotha.. please

  • SAM

    Wow NY post should seriously be ashamed. John legend is such a stand up guy and is competly correct in what he said and I think we should all boycott the New York Post. It won’t be hard for me since I don’t read it anyways.

  • groundcontrol

    President Obama doesn’t write legislation. Congress writes legislation. The monkey is not supposed to be the President. The monkey is congress. Maybe Pelosi or maybe Reid. Someone the artist obviously thought was deranged.

    It was an obvious source for a joke since the shooting of a deranged monkey wrecking havoc was so prominently in the news.

    I’m probably more sensitive than most about such things and I never for a second thought that was supposed to be the President. Perhaps I just understand legislation better. It does, however, bear a striking resemblance to the too-tightly pulled face of Congresswoman Pelosi.

    I’m sorry that some peope have misinterpreted this to the point of taking offense but this really was a non-story hijacked by publicity seekers.

  • al


    Yea Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid wrote the bill…but there is only ONE dead monkey NOT TWO OR 100. Because if this bill doesn’t work…Obama may not have physically written… the bill but it’s OBAMA’S bill
    Which means one dead Nigger oh sorry monkey

  • Debbie

    #27 heck – i hate to tell you this but black people sold blacks into slavery. blacks were not the only people to be enslaved but they are the only ones who cant get over it.

  • releka

    Great letter.

  • leftykc

    quit thinking everything about a monkey is black related..what are you paranoid?

  • jo jo boo boo

    John legend , stick to music..