News & Politics

Jessie Williams Powerful Speech @ The 2016 BET Awards

By: Mélange Magazine  | 

Actor and activist Jesse Williams was awarded with the BET Humanitarian Award on June 26, 2016 and he was the most powerful and unforgetable part of the awards show. Jessie is best known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC Television series Grey’s Anatomy on Grey’s Anatomy but he is also a key member and leader of Black Lives Matter. He graciously accepted the award with a prolific, powerful, dynamic and emotional speech about racism and oppression, that was reminiscent of a raw, lyrical modern day Martin Luther King Jr.

He marched alongside of thousands of protester in Ferguson Missouri to protest the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Williams sits on the board of The Advancement Project, a civil rights think tank and advocacy group and Sankofa.org. He’s the executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a multifaceted media project focused on the black male identity and the diversity within the demographic and the executive producer of the 2016 documentary Stay Woke. He has written articles for CNN, and The Huffington Post met with President Obama earlier this year to discuss his humanitarian work.

After thanking his parents and thanking his wife for changing his life he broke it down:

Watch the full video at BET.com.

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 Darrien 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.

Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.

And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote: the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, alright; stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest—if you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

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.

Thank you.

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