Jesse Williams: A loud voice among whispers

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Did you catch the BET awards?

I’m sure if you missed it you’ve seen plenty of clips from the episode or heard about it by this point.

It was a great show, fulfilling its promise of a great tribute to the legendary Prince. (Billboard have a seat and take plenty of notes) Of course there were moments that made us question the state of Hip Hop but there were other moments that allowed us to poke our chest out, glad to be a part of a culture that stays woke.

One of those moments was a speech that snatched eyebrows back and demanded the attention of all those listening as Jesse Williams boldly spoke to his people, cameras be damned, when he accepted the 2016 BET Humanitarian award.

Missed it? Get you some of this right here:

http://www.bet.com/video/betawards/2016/acceptance-speeches/jesse-williams-receives-humanitarian-award.html

Did you hear that greatness? The knowledge that threw itself out into the atmosphere? Not for shine or recognition but simply because someone has to voice what the majority is thinking. Not the majority that want to loot and burn down buildings but the majority that wants to do credible work in an effort to move its culture, society and communities towards the future and a better life. It was freaking awesome but unfortunately it’s not new.

People of Color (POCs) have been woke for quite some time in this country, attempting to make sure their voices are heard in the wake of increasing injustices, police brutality, racist rhetoric in political speeches, systematic and institutionalized racism that has become as common to us as breathing. So in reality, Williams basically got on television and spoke to the brothers and sisters as if we were at the crib enjoying dinner and a game of spades.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of us needed another wake up call (because there’s been plenty before) to show us that even though the road is hard we can’t give up now. Some of those who are content to carry on with the way things are needed to know that they need to get out of the way and stop blocking those who actually want to crate change. Did you hear that Stacy Dash? And yes that includes those who are innocent bystanders that watch the abuse and injustices go down and do nothing to stop it. You have to pick a side. Saying you’re not racist but being a proponent of white privilege is just as bad as attending a Klan meeting without the sheet.

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Of course you can’t really say anything without some getting in their feelings. Of course, I don’t think there would’ve been as many in their feelings if the show had not been aired on Viacom’s sister channels. Don’t believe me? Check the receipts:

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You see boys and girls this is exactly what Williams was talking about. The pure unadulterated hate that lives online. Of course they wouldn’t have said anything if their own children hadn’t seen it. I have receipts for that too. Ignorant phrases like this popped up across the web:

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And this:

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0LEV1zyp3ZXEiQA6QxXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0N2Noc21lBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=jesse+williams+tomi+lahren&fr=hp-ddc-bd-tab&fr2=piv-web#id=6&vid=28d828c26f0ec4c2fa19a42fee35f7e3&action=view

#Staymadabby! #SitdownBeckywiththegoodhair. Next time make sure the ENTIRE video plays because as a journalist you should know that context is everything.

So you want me to believe that you’re not racist after saying things like this? Not only do I think you’re racist I also think your ignorant. Anyone that has Twitter fingers could also use them to do a Google search and see that Viacom is owned by an old white man, not black owned. Also that BET has no control over which sister stations air it’s programming. That also happens at the top. The question you should be asking is why the top executives at Viacom felt that you sweet, innocent little children would gladly tune in to that program.

That just brings us a whole different beast that the View touched on:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTheView%2Fvideos%2F10153600358446524%2F&show_text=0&width=560

See what I mean?

I think Williams was another loud voice in the crowd that hit home for both POCs and non-POCs. He inspired you to think about the actions and decisions made on a daily basis that lead to brown and black bodies in the street, whether they’re dead or homeless. He invited you to search your consciousness and decide whether you would be part of the problem or the solution. He reminded you that the struggle is far from over and that there needs to be people courageous and selfless enough to lead others toward solutions.

Most importantly he reminded you that humanity should come before money and I’m okay with that.

I’m Just Saying.

 

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A Pro-Black Feminist? Maybe

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As I look at the current social climate of the United States I see a country being torn in two again behind many issues that were thought to be resolved years ago.
Racism is alive and we all know that. Not just racism against blacks but of any race that isn’t Caucasian. I can remember walking to the store as a little girl, maybe I was 9 or 10 years old, and seeing the Ku Klux Klan marching through the streets of Thomasville, North Carolina. As I watched the parade of white sheets march through the center of downtown what stuck out most was the black officer that was there as an escort. I can remember wondering why in the hell he would protect them. By that I don’t mean why he would protect the people marching, but how could he “protect and serve” the hatred that they stood for? So yes, racism and discrimination is still thriving and often our encounters with them shape who we are, what we will stand for and what we will fight against.
I ask that you take a deep breath in and out right here because this isn’t me attempting to pull the race card.
This is me attempting to explain why the card is still in play, along with others from the deck of Hatred.
I admit that I’m Pro-black and there is nothing wrong with that. It needs to be understood that being Pro-Black in America isn’t being anti-white.
Let me say that again….
BEING PRO-BLACK IN AMERICA ISN’T BEING ANTI-WHITE.
Being Pro-black is about appreciating your roots, your culture and your background. It’s about supporting your brothers and sisters in their endeavors and wanting to see them all achieve their dream in a system designed to prohibit them. It’s about honoring your heritage (the same way some feel like flying the Confederate flag does) and values it birthed before someone with a different skin tone came along. It’s about needing to see a race of people do and want better for themselves and their children.
It’s about strength within a culture that is often told it’s not strong enough, smart enough, wealthy enough, or mentally capable of competing and excelling on the same level as their Caucasian counterparts.
That’s being Pro-Black. Not Racist.
But I’m so much more than Pro-Black.
By definition, I’m a Feminist because I aim to break down barriers that women of both black and white skin face on a daily basis. I want myself, my daughter, and my neighbor to receive the same amount as our male co-worker’s for doing the same amount of work. I want us to be recognized as getting the job done in a pair of slacks and pumps. I don’t want our breasts and behinds to get us a promotion but the work that we submit is so damn good that we can’t be denied one.
By definition, I’m Anti-Police Brutality but that doesn’t mean I’m against the police or their profession. I have different relationships with law enforcement officers on different levels and I know that all of them are not bad or biased. I know that they aim to do their jobs and return home safely. I also know that there are some officers who give their brethren in blue a bad name by applying their biases to their job. I know that there are some officers who get off on exerting power over the powerless, using more force than necessary and harassing people as a form of intimidation.
By definition, I’m Pro-Motherhood/Pro-Choice. I want to be able to breastfeed in public. I want to be able to take sick days or work from home because my child has the flu without penalty. I want to not be afraid to ask to leave when my work is complete so I can catch the PTA program or be able to eat lunch with my kid at school without my boss thinking of a trade-off for me to do it. I want to not have to choose between my obligations as an employee and a mother. I also want to keep the right to choose between being a mother when I’m ready and having an abortion if I’m not.
So what exactly am I?
To me it sounds like I’m simply an advocate for a better life. I care enough about different social issues to pay attention to how others are treated and by whom. I care enough to try and leave a better world for my children, grandchildren and future generations. I care enough to not settle for the status quo and instead raise the bar.
If that makes me a fist-raising, bra-burning, injustice protester who pumps breast milk on lunch and has a few diapers in the car then so be it.
However, if I must be given a label I would prefer one that embodies all of the above. Something that could be universally recognized without being forced into the many silos of activism. Something that allows me to not be limited to one particular group or cause.
For now, I’ll go with Game Changer.
I’m Just Saying.