Jesse Williams’ Empowering Speech on Black Oppression, Race Injustice at the 2016 BET Awards

Four days ago, Grey’s Anatomy actor and activist Jesse Williams won a humanitarian award at the 2016 BET Awards, and he pretty much stole the show.  Personally, I had to take a few days for all the noise on social media to die down and allow Jesse Williams’ words to marinate on my conscious.  The message that this brother dropped on the world was so deep, unflinching and POWERFUL.  It was one of the most coherent and sincere critiques of systemic racism, police brutality, cultural appropriation and exploitation and a heartfelt message to black women here and afar who have “spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves.  We can and will do better for you.”  There were so many grand moments of this speech, but there was one particular tidbit that stood out to me:

“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo.  And we’re done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us.  Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold.  Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them.  Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.  The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

Boom.  What saddens me about Jesse’s message, in which he delivered in a calm, poised manner, is that the urgency of his speech will still go over so many people’s heads and they will politically, socially and racially dissect his message because of his ethnic background and the complexion of his skin.  You know what else I find deeply concerning?  Why is that when you do a search on YouTube, you’re unable to find the speech in all it’s entirety?  I even found a short video clip and attempted to upload it on my Instagram account and was instantaneously blocked from doing so.  Perhaps, there’s dire intentions of silencing and lessening this brother’s voice by the powers that be?

We have to continue to bring these conversations to the table and come up with vital solutions to address all the social issues that plaque us as a human race.  Now as black people, we are not comfortable having these conversations because we either fear retaliation from the white establishment or these issues threatens to divide us; because of these reasons, some of us don’t bother to vote or speak out unless an incident hits home or the media puts it in our face.  Let’s be honest, how many of you knew who Jesse William’s before he delivered his fiery speech?  Make no mistake, it’s painstakingly, crystal clear that we as a people, still have our work cut out for us.  Our humanity is still on the brink of extinction.

Read Williams’ full speech here.

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