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John Legend: ‘It’s hard being a white male conservative in America. They shall overcome’

R&B singer John Legend stopped by the Daily Show this week to discuss his new project Southern Rites, an upcoming HBO documentary about systematic racism in Georgia.

Among other topics, Southern Rites covers recently unsegregated high school proms in Montgomery County and Toombs County, GA. as well as the death of Justin Patterson, a 22-year-old black man who was fatally shot by Norman Neesmith, who is white, in January 2011, according to Essence.

Host Jon Stewart described the doc as both “heartbreaking” and “incredibly effective,” and pressed Legend, who is an executive producer on the project, about whether or not racism is still a problem in the United States.

“I’m just struck by the anger and defensiveness on the side of people when you say racism still exists in America,” Stewart said.

“Some racism is very easy to identify, the Donald Sterlings of the world, the people who use the N-word in a malicious way,” Legend responded. “But a lot of racism is structural.”

The singer then cited procedural issues within the criminal justice system, such as sentencing, indictments and jury selection, before stating, “all of these things that end up discounting the value of black lives.

He continued:

We don’t want to talk about racism all of the time. If it weren’t here, if we didn’t have to deal with it every day, we would love for it not to be the subject of conversation… We would love not have to keep bringing this up but it’s killing our kids, it’s resulting in so much pain and suffering for our community, so we have to bring it up.

Stewart also slammed white critics of Michelle Obama, who said during a visit to Tuskegee University last weekend she has felt the impacts of racism.

Legend sarcastically responded: “It’s hard being a white male conservative in America. They shall overcome.”

Watch the entire segment below:

Southern Rites will premiere Monday, May 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

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