Oh Jesse, how you make my heart beat stronger! Jesse Williams is an actor (Grey’s Anatomy) and activist in the US. Jesse began as a public school teacher in Philadelphia and is now putting such schooling and his celebrity platform to good use as a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement. He is also currently the youngest board member of The Advancement Project, a civil rights and advocacy group.
During the BET Awards this past Sunday, Williams was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award and his acceptance speech was nothing but facts, facts and more facts served on a hot plate with a tall glass of ‘white tears’ on the side. Honey, I was there for it! He covered many points from systematic racism, police brutality, awareness, and social change, and did so very eloquently, but still, people had an issue. I sat patiently waiting for the backlash I knew was coming, and I didn’t have to wait long.
All Lives Matter comments? Expected. Check. (Shoutout to Justin Timberlake)
White disdain & claims of reverse racism? Expected. Check. *Sips white tears*
The real shocker was the unexpected comments from black people! While most loved his speech, others were concerned about his COLOR. Tweets and statements flooded in about how this mixed man doesn’t understand our plight (ummm hello, he is still BLACK), and how many thought the speech would never have gotten as much press if it came from a darker skinned black man in his same position (meanwhile, Ushers ‘Don’t Trump America’ jacket can been seen all over the internet). *Rolls eyes*
Again, we see Colorism rearing its ugly little head. Colorism, a term coined by Alice Walker in 1982, has shaped not only how white people view or categorize us, but also how we look at ourselves. Pitting lighter skinned blacks against darker skinned, ‘good hair’ vs. bad hair…I could go on forever. We see it all the time in movies when the lighter skinned woman is deemed more valuable and beautiful than her darker skinned co-star, or supporting actress, and each time, it pisses us off. Crazy thing is, when a darker skinned woman is put into a role of power or in the center of attention, people knock her down too by saying she is ‘too dark’ or ‘too ugly’.
But I’m getting away from my point here. The point is, the fact that black people have an issue with this man and his skin is sickening and counterproductive to the movement. Here we have the amazing man who tirelessly stands up for us, and we bash him because he isn’t dark or ‘black enough’. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, a white man, is posted all over our social media for trying to help us. Where is the consistency? All I see is HATE. What does his skin color matter? Had he been blue, with green hair and yellow eyes, I still would have loved his speech and efforts. How can we fight with white people to accept and love all of our shades, if we can’t do the same?
Kettle, meet Pot.
What did you think of his speech? Check it out below & leave a comment!
Transcript from Speech
“Peace peace. Thank you, Debra. Thank you, BET. Thank you Nate Parker, Harry and Debbie Allen for participating in that.
Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, and that they make sure I learn what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also thank my amazing wife for changing my life.
Now, this award – this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country – the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.
It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.
Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.
Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.
Now… I got more y’all – yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday so I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better than it is to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Dorian Hunt.
Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this. Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.
There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us. But she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.