WaterCoolerConvos

Jesse Williams Called Out White Supremacy at the 2016 BET Awards

Jesse Williams, aka #ActivistBae, is known as a staunch advocate within the black community. For his efforts, he received the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards. And in his acceptance speech, he delivered a mini-sermon on racism, white supremacy, and our mandate to stand for justice and equality. Watch the video above and read the transcript below.

“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 I 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 and families and teachers and students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right?

It’s kind of basic mathematics that 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 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 every day. So what is going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.

Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s fourteenth birthday. So I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a twelve-year-old playing alone in a 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 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 going to stop this. All right? Dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our bodies — when we’ve 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’s no tax they haven’t levied 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 of things straight, just a little side note: the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, all right? Stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you’d better have an established record of critique of our oppression. 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 floatin’ 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 and 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: just because we’re magic don’t mean we’re not real.

Thank you.”

Photo credit: BET

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Daren W. Jackson

Co-Founder/Editor
Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.

Comments

comments

  • Shawna

    I wholeheartedly agree with Jesse Williams and will continue to work in my community to uplift the youth and adults, even when they’re blinded by society to think they’re fine or they’re free.

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