Jesse Williams Explores Black Lives Matter Movement in Documentary ‘Stay Woke’
Jesse Williams
Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for A&E Network    

Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams Explores Black Lives Matter Movement in Documentary ‘Stay Woke’


Grey's Anatomy Season 12 ends this Thursday, but be sure to turn on your TV next Thursday, May 26, to see actor Jesse Williams in a documentary called Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement.

Jesse has long supported the Black Lives Matter movement in person and online, and now he’s doing so on the airwaves — as the star and executive producer of the Laurens Grant-directed doc.

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“Black Lives Matter is in many ways, in its adolescence,” he tells The Huffington Post. “It’s an ongoing movement, so we wanted to be sure that as we catalog its origin story and machination, we also wanted to be sure we do not treat it as a fixed, finite, closed circle. We want to look back without being conclusive.”

In case you haven’t been following his excellent Twitter commentary, the 34-year-old sums up the movement’s aim. “We’re not asking you to invent new laws for us. We’re asking you to include us in the laws that are already on the books,” he says.

“Trayvon Martin did not invent the hood on a sweatshirt and wear it down the street, he used the hood that already exists that white boys wear as a uniform all over this country,” he continues. “All we’re asking for, or demanding in this case, is inclusion in a fully formed, well-oiled machine that already exists.”

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Some argue the movement should be called All Lives Matter, but as Jesse explains, the movement is about getting a historically oppressed population to the same baseline as everyone else.

“We have been conditioned to believe that black people are subhuman... and are told all of these intrinsically destructive tropes, which are flagrantly dishonest.”

And despite FOX News rhetoric that Black Lives Matter is a “terrorist organization,” Jesse pays the right-wing hate no heed because he knows the truth.

“I consider this movement a love movement,” he says. “My experiences in Ferguson and everywhere else — as an activist and educator — are that all of our work and experience is, regardless of how [opponents] try to frame it, about love.

“Love for self, love for us, love for our people. Love for humanity and love for the real great potential we have as a culture but also this nation has by putting its best foot forward.”

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Saying the movement is about love is not to say the movement is entirely unified, though, and Jesse says this documentary acknowledges the dissent among the activists.

“Blackness is not a monolith. We are not homogenous people, we are not all the same,” he says. “It is not a failure to disagree, it is not a failure to experience bumps or turbulence, that’s part of the process. We’re just doing it in public and we’re just doing it being black, which draws a magnifying glass to our flaws and to our triumphs.”

Hopefully Jesse Williams’s fame will help bring a magnifying glass to this documentary, though, because it sounds like must-see TV for every global citizen.

Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement airs on May 26 at 9 p.m. ET on BET.