Jesse Williams Calls For Equality and Freedom in 2016 BET Awards Speech
If you’re not interested in racial equality in America, Jesse Williams doesn’t have time for you.
The Grey’s Anatomy star gave a moving speech during the 2016 BET Awards, accomplishing a lot in a small amount of time. He brought awareness to police brutality, called out Hollywood for appropriating black culture, and told all the critics to take a seat.
As the 34-year-old accepted the Humanitarian Award, he dedicated it to “the real organizers all over the country,” mentioning the activists, lawyers, and students fighting for civil rights.
The ABC actor then reminded the crowd it would’ve been Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday that day, June 26. The Ohio child was fatally shot by law enforcement in November 2014 while playing in a park.
“I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight,” Jesse said of the violent incident.
“If you have no interest in equal rights for black people,” he added, “than do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.”
The TV doctor’s attention soon turned to the entertainment industry. “We’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us…while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil, black gold,” he pledged.
“Ghettoising and demeaning our creations then stealing them,” he continued. “The thing is, just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
Those last comments led to the Twitter dragging of Justin Timberlake, who was accused of doing just what Jesse warned against.
"We are the same..." Justin Timberlake pic.twitter.com/NKQeOIFRK3R'asclat Al Ghul (@Felonious_munk) June 27, 2016
The 35-year-old musician called Jesse’s speech an inspiration, but he was immediately hit with criticism for cribbing African-American style for his music and not supporting Janet Jackson during the Super Bowl Nipplegate of 2004.
At least — after an unadvised shady tweet — Justin offered a few mea culpas.
Maybe stay off Twitter next year, JT?