Actor Jesse Williams of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ graciously accepted his Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards. However, it’s his passionately-charged speech that WOKE UP the fire in some of us, wanting to do more. Before I get into why black moneymakers should be more woke than any of us, read the transcript of the speech below. Video of Williams’ speech is below, as well.
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.
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.
Jesse’s speech was so submerged with truth, you can’t help but immediately feel some type of responsibility for how the system fails us as a whole and how WE can come together and change it. Although his powerful speech could apply to all black people who wants change, I feel his speech should particularly apply to the black millionaires in this country.
Jesse spoke to a whole room of money-makers; musicians, vocalists, actors, actresses, producers, athletes, filmmakers, media moguls, etc. about investing their dollars into brands. At that moment, I was reminded about the power of the almighty dollar, particularly the black dollar.
Black public figures/moneymakers are the ones with the power to use their platform and money to encourage black folks to spend money on brands BY US. Black moneymakers also has the financial ability to support small black businesses in urban communities that could benefit from the financial lift. I wondered, at that moment, if any of those stars actually thought of investing in a small black business. It makes complete sense to help those who are only interested in providing for their families and create job opportunities for those young men and women making money in the streets.
A move like that would also create more funds and more spending power, which would lead to better communities and maybe…JUST maybe a decline in inner-city violence.
Jesse tackled everything from police killings to cultural appropriation. Let’s dig a bit into how often cultural appropriation happens in entertainment and how we let it fly under our radar, because it’s “lit”.
There was a time when being black in entertainment was “too urban”. Now, we have non-black artists who are singing and being “urban-ish” and suddenly it’s the best thing in the world. We all let it fly because we’ve purchased their music and go to their concerts. The point is we’ve supported them more than our brothas and sistas who are forced to promote their music exclusively online; artists whose music is way more better than the Alan Thickes, the Fergies, and the Justin Timberlakes.
I don’t want to go far off subject here, but you get the point.
I hope that at least some of us has become motivated enough from Williams’ speech to want to do something. However, I think it’s really up to our favorite celebrity &/or public figure with a generous amount of income in their bank accounts to invest in something to make our communities better. Like we always say, it takes money to make money. We saw them all stand up during Williams’ speech, appearing deeply affected by his words, clapping and nodding in complete agreement. My question is how many of them became affected enough to take action? Celebrities not only have the financial power, but they also have the power to use their popularity to become successful social and economical activists. They can use their fame to convince fans to follow their lead and deescalate the many problems we face in the African-American community.
Whether they want to admit it or not, people look up to them…some so much that they would follow in their footsteps, and that includes impressionable adults.
Jesse Williams is a perfect example.
He didn’t win a Humanitarian Award for his good looks and Twitter rants. For those who don’t know, do research on the brotha and find out why ‘Greys Anatomy’ is NOT the only thing we’re proud of him taking part in. He uses his celebrity for meaningful things that involves equal rights and will make any black live matter activist proud!