“‘The thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real”
(Jesse Williams BETAwards2016)
As I sat and watched Jesse Williams accept his Humanitarian award at the 2016 BET Awards, I couldn’t help but feel that for those 4 minutes, I was able to understand the reverence of my ancestors when in the presence of Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr or Huey Newton.
His words were nothing short of profound, and while the speech seemed to echo the basic and public pleas of a frustrated people, it was esoteric in the case that it truly is a struggle that only the African American community can understand.
Some of my favorite moments from his speech….
“The thing is though, all of us here are getting money, that alone isn’t going to stop this. Dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back to put 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?”
“And let’s get a couple things straight, a little side note, the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort of the bystander. That is not our job. Stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then don’t make suggestions to those who do. Sit down. ”
“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, 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.”
There is a desperate need for the African American community to come together as a unit. To embrace ourselves not separate ourselves. To understand that we are more powerful if we stand together than to stand apart. We need to not only educate ourselves, but also educate our younger generations of our rich history. We are obligated to stand strong in our power, and understand just how influential we are to the world that we live in. Just how instrumental our very being is to everything that is popular in today’s culture. Our style, our lips, our butts, our color, or swagger, our slang, our music…everything we are continues to be reproduced… while we continue to be pushed aside, killed and degraded. No longer can we be silent, no longer can we continue to be forgotten, be aware of your power, and deem yourself necessary in a world that continues to forget about us.
Click here to check out Jesse’s full speech.