John Legend loves being a dad. You can see it in the glimpses of the Stephens family we get on social media. His interactions with 3½-year-old Luna and 1½-year-old Miles are simply precious. Despite their self-deprecating jokes, it seems like John and wife Chrissy Teigen really have this parenting thing down.
John, Chrissy, and their kids are just one of many examples of a beautiful multiracial family. It’s something that John believes will be to his kids’ benefit as they grow up. He discussed the matter with People in celebration of the National Day of Racial Healing.
The National Day of Racial Healing is in its fourth year. The occasion was established by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The organization aims to bring a sense of community back to areas that have been damaged by racism and give young people equal opportunities to thrive regardless of their backgrounds.
It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, people still struggle with the idea of interracial couples and multiracial families. While it’s presented issues for many people, John feels fortunate to have experienced little negativity. “I don’t think there were a lot of issues around it. A lot of it has been a blessing,” he noted.
“I feel like we learn from each other,” he said of himself and Chrissy. “We have different experiences. We laugh at each other.”
One of the places that they see the blending of cultures most is in the kitchen, where Chrissy is already an ace.
“The food has been better because we’re able to merge our taste and our different upbringings and what we grew up eating,” John said. “We learn from each other and we love the things that are different about each other. That’s been actually fun for us.”
John’s and Chrissy’s parents also share their differing experiences. It makes for a beautiful family experience. “They really get along,” John said. “My mother and my mother-in-law get along so well. My dad gets along well with my in-laws as well and everybody just really enjoys each other.”
“Chrissy’s dad is white, her mother is Thai, both my parents are black and from Ohio and we’ve definitely got an interesting cultural mix for my kids to kind of experience from all their grandparents and aunts and uncles but I feel like it’s gone so well,” he explained.
“I feel like they’re accepting of each other, they love each other and we all learn from each other,” he added.
John’s also grateful to see a shift in society where these differences are not considered problematic as frequently. “People have been pretty loving and accepting of our relationship across all races and all types of people,” John said of his and Chrissy’s relationship. “Chrissy has a lot of black fans. I feel like there hasn’t been a huge backlash.”
“There’s always a little bit and I understand it because I understand the history that goes into how black women’s beauty has been devalued over the years,” he noted.
“There’s this kind of stroke that when a black man succeeds he goes off and marries a white girl or marries someone that’s not black. I don’t believe that’s actually true.”
“I have a lot of very successful black athlete and entertainer friends that all have married black women so I don’t believe that trope is necessarily true,” he continued.
“There’s that kind of reaction among some people when they see that happen and they resent it a little bit. But I think, by and large, the response has been love and people love Chrissy. They think she’s hilarious and they love how we are together and that’s been the case among pretty much everybody.”
While the public has been largely accepting of Chrissy and John, the family has seen one issue with their blended family. He struggles to find any representation of multiracial children in media. Miles is too young to be affected, but he has noticed how Luna responds to it.
“There’s so much culture built up around princesses. Luna’s very into the whole princess thing — she’s watched Princess and the Frog, but there’s also plenty of other princesses out there and the majority of them are white or have very light skin and long hair and straighter hair than she has,” he noted. “I think it’s hard to counter-program and say, ‘Your hair is beautiful too.’”
Thankfully, there are people working hard to bridge that gap. “Lupita [Nyong’o] has a great book and Matthew Cherry and all these people are doing things to address the issue of black girls and their hair and their skin color and making sure they know that they’re valued,” he acknowledged.
“But they still see all the other culture out there, so they have to still deal with the fact that other messages are out there that counteract that. It’s almost like you’re always fighting that battle and making sure they understand that they’re valued and they’re beautiful and their curly hair is beautiful and their skin color is beautiful.”
John’s hope is that Luna and Miles will grow to appreciate the cultures that make up their family.
“I don’t know what they’ll feel like when they’re 18 and 21 but it seems like we’re growing towards a culture that values the fact that people have interesting backgrounds. They’ll benefit from the fact they have black grandparents, and a Thai grandparent and a white grandparent,” John says.
“It’ll be interesting for them because they’ll have a lot of different experiences they can draw from and learn from. We’re growing towards a society that respects and values it and doesn’t look down on it all.”
John has some advice for parents grappling with the same issues. “Part of it is teaching them to love themselves for who they are and also to love themselves for more than what they look like,” he noted.
“That’s a component of who they are and it’s important, and it’s important for how they’re seen, but I want them to be kind, be loving, be intelligent, be good leaders. As they get older, I want them to realize the privileges they have in this life and know that that’s unique and they’re very fortunate to have them. Hopefully they’ll spend a lot of their energy trying to help people that don’t have those privileges.”