Jesse Williams, best known for his work as an actor on Grey’s Anatomy, delivered a racially and politically charged speech at the 2016 BET Awards which was aired on Sunday, June 26. The BET Awards are a show that highlights the achievements of African Americans in television, music, film, sports, philanthropy, and more. Jesse Williams was on stage accepting a humanitarian award, presumably for his public work as a social justice warrior type of fellow. The award was presented to him by the President of BET, Debra Lee. The acceptance speech he gave afterwards has had the internet world buzzing heavily.
The climate the speech was given in was and is one of subtle racial tension. There was a general movement to head towards black media and embrace that as African Americans, rather than waiting to be “fairly represented” at awards shows like The Oscars, as was seen in the #OscarsSoWhite movement. At the beginning of the BET Awards this year, there was a performance by mega stars Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, with an Afro-Centric overtone. So, the audience was heavily primed to receive the speech that Mr. Williams gave.
It was an anti-white speech. Jesse Williams talked about police brutality, and that somehow white people seem to always be disarmed white blacks are usually killed, but the facts do not bear that out. An emotional argument. He also spoke of white “cultural appropriation” from whites taking black music, culture, and more. This prompted an attack on Justin Timberlake, who actually had a positive response on Twitter to the speech. Another person on Twitter attacked Justin Timberlake for his positive tweet, basically saying that Timberlake was a cultural appropriator himself. That prompted Justin to respond in a nice, but dismissive way. Of course, that set off a chain of events which included him being attacked by hordes of angry Twitterers, many of whom were at home and were also primed to receive Jesse Williams’ anti-white message. Of course, in the end, Justin Timberlake apologized. In this video I break down why this happened and what the future results will be.
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