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John Legend alleges racist encounter with New York City paparazzi

John Legend attends the photo call For WGN America's "Underground" and "Outsiders"  at Langham Hotel on January 13, 2017 in Pasadena, California.
John Legend attends the photo call For WGN America's "Underground" and "Outsiders" at Langham Hotel on January 13, 2017 in Pasadena, California. Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

John Legend alleges that he was recently called a “monkey” by a photographer.

The singer was with his wife Chrissy Teigen at John F. Kennedy airport in New York when the alleged incident took place.

Shortly after the encounter, Teigen took to Twitter, writing “Paparazzi at JFK just asked me if we evolved from monkeys, why is John Legend still around — and people wonder why celebs lose it in pics.”

READ MORE: Piers Morgan, Newt Gingrich call for Madonna’s arrest after Women’s March speech

Legend discussed the incident during a sit-down interview with Variety at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

“We were right next to each other and we looked at each other like, ‘Did he really just say that?’” Legend told Variety on Saturday. “And he really said it. He basically called me a monkey.”

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“Black folks have had to deal with being called ‘monkeys’ for a long time, and dehumanization has always been kind of a method of racism and subjugation of black people, and that’s just part of American history – and it’s part of the present, apparently.”

READ MORE: Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris and other LGBTQ stars thank Barack Obama

“We saw with the former president, 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. I look down on that person that would say something like that. But it’s a shame that it still exists,” Legend explained.

Legend and Teigen both attended women’s marches on Saturday. Teigen showed up on the front lines in Washington D.C.’s rally and the All of Me singer attended the march in Park City, Utah.

Legend is set to guest-star in the second season of Underground. He is an executive producer on the show, which tells the story of the Underground Railroad.

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