Change, Culture

Words of Wisdom from Jesse Williams

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June 26, 2016 was an enlightening night as Jesse Williams gave a speech accepting the BET Humanitarian Award, which is awarded to one for their outstanding work in inspiring change and positive development for the community. If you listen to his words, it’s apparent why he’s the winner. Covering the main issue of racism, he tells the world why it is still a problem and how we can change it. You can watch the video here:

Jesse Williams BET Awards Speech 2016 from Carolina Black Caucus on Vimeo.

As the BET awards is night of celebration and a recap of progress, Williams reminds us that everyone there has the power to inspire change to the rest of the world. He says, “Now, the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back.” This was a pivotal moment in his speech as he reached to every single person in that room. It is often easy to lose track of the community when searching for personal endeavors and progress. His mission is to build solidarity within his community and to let them know that every one of them has a unique influence, whether they are a singer, rapper, actor/actress, comedian, etc…

During the climax of Williams’s speech, he states, “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.” Williams believes that his people have been robbed of everything, and he compares this to how oil is extracted for the sole purpose of making money. The world can be lucrative, and taking advantage over a group of people is not acceptable. These extremely strong words left the audience in tears, and the impact of this speech is one that will linger for a very long time.