Springfield’s John Legend talks gender roles, growing up black in Ohio

Grammy and Oscar-winning singer and Springfield native John Legend believes children are exposed to gender stereotypes from an early age that leading to problems, especially for young boys.

» RELATED: Springfield’s John Legen blasts Trump, supports protesting NFL players

Legend recently sat down for an interview with NBC Think ahead AXE’s Senior Orientation — an event aimed at teaching high school senior boys about inclusive masculinity — where he discussed how children are exposed to stereotypes early in life and feel pressured to conform.

“Society gives you all kinds of cues as to what’s valuable, what’s considered masculine and feminine,” Legend said in the interview. “But as a kid you’re not really understanding it as such, you’re just seeing it as this is what boys are likely to do and this is what girls are likely to do.”

» READ MORE: That time 10-year-old John Legend was a Springfield spelling bee champion

Boys tend to internalize a lot of their emotions, Legend said, but black boys in particular face intense pressure to conform to what people perceive black men to be.

“I think we’re expected to be even more masculine than other men are,” he told NBC. “Some of this expectation we put on ourselves, I think, to some extent. But it’s also driven from other people, as well as from the broader phenomenon of hyper-masculinity.”

Legend said growing up in Ohio, where sports are placed under a bright spotlight, made him feel less valuable because he wasn’t a good athlete and focused more on the arts. His sense of awkwardness only increased as he grew older as he progressed through school quickly and entered college when he was only 16. But because of his upbringing, he said he was able to embrace what it was he wanted to do and become who he is today.

» MORE COVERAGE: Springfield’s John Legend remembers the times before the legend began

Legend said keeping an open mind and being willing to accept different outlooks is what can help young men struggling with their own viewpoints.

“Well, I think part of it is to learn, to listen, to pay attention to other people and not only learn from books and from outside media, but also listen to your classmates. Listen to women. Listen to people who are different from you and develop a sense of empathy for the things that they’re going through. I think we should all be humble and we should all listen to each other and learn from each other.”

3 Must Read Stories

Here’s what Chrissy Teigen said about her $1K tip to Ohio Outback server

Caller to Springfield bakery: “We will come shoot this place up!”

5 things to know about Election 2017 results in Springfield

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

John Kasich rips Congress, urges 'common-sense gun laws'
John Kasich rips Congress, urges 'common-sense gun laws'

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who signed laws making it legal to carry concealed weapons at daycare facilities and college campuses, said he has “no confidence” Congress will approve what he called “common-sense gun laws” in the wake of a mass shooting last week at a Florida high school. During an interview Sunday on CNN’s &ldquo...
2 kids dressed as 'tall man' unable to gain admission to 'Black Panther'
2 kids dressed as 'tall man' unable to gain admission to 'Black Panther'

Two kids decided they wanted to go to the new Marvel superhero film “Black Panther,” but they didn’t want to pay for two movie tickets. So, they tried to dupe the movie theater’s manager. The duo went to the theater disguised as one “tall man” under a trench coat, but unsurprisingly, their plan didn’t work...
Need a new vehicle? DAYTON AUTO SHOW begins this week
Need a new vehicle? DAYTON AUTO SHOW begins this week

The annual Dayton Auto Show rolls into the Dayton Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 22 I’ll be joined by other consumers looking to educate themselves more than ever before about available SUVs, trucks, crossovers, sport-utility vehicles, cars, minivans and hybrids. The 2018 Dayton Auto Show is an easy, painless, enjoyable way to do that...
Trump ambassador nominee had unsettling management style, women say
Trump ambassador nominee had unsettling management style, women say

Doug Manchester, the billionaire nominated by President Donald Trump to be ambassador to the Bahamas, made a fortune as a real estate developer in San Diego while also earning a reputation for his philanthropy, conservative convictions and lavish lifestyle. In 2011, Manchester, then 69, decided to buy the struggling San Diego Union-Tribune. Over the...
STEM program offers female students special opportunity in Springfield
STEM program offers female students special opportunity in Springfield

Female students in the greater Springfield area are getting a unique opportunity to study math and science in depth thanks to a special program. Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), a program dedicated to offering a hands-on learning experience for female students around the area, began holding events at The Dome earlier...
More Stories