I do not know where to begin. Do I start with my agreement? Do I start with my anger? Do I begin with where it begin? Either way, I don’t have enough time left in today to capture everything that I feel, everything that was captured in Jesse Williams 2016 BET Awards Humanitarian Award acceptance speech. The only thing that gives me solace is thinking of how many Viacom execs had heart attacks to the beat of the ancestors coming through the televisions with every verb Jesse spoke.
I should preface, nothing in here is an I hate white people cry. This is an I hate what oppressors have done and continue to do to us cry. If your skin happens to match the oppressor you shall be exempt if your actions are not of the same blood. This is a pro-us not and anti-them. This is a let’s work more effectively than us working to no avail. My words may prove to be less eloquent than his, but the sentiments are identical in my heart. And here they were getting upset at Formation. Baby….you were so busy looking in the kitchen that you didn’t see the huddle in the field. But I digress.
If you missed his speech, here is the transcript. I think I have committed most of it to memory by now:
“Now, this award this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activist, 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. Alright? It is kind of basic mathematics. And the more we learn about who we are and how we got here the more we will mobilize. Now this is also, in particular, to the black women who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves; we can and we will do better for you.
Now, what we have been doing is looking at the data. And we know that police somehow manage to deescalate and disarm and not kill white people every day. So what is going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our country or we will restructure their function and ours. Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rices’ 14th 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 12 year old, playing alone in a park, in broad daylight. Killing him on television then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rakia 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.
Now, 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 body. Now we pray to get paid for brands on our body. There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There have been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax that they haven’t levied against us and we have 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, it’s 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 bystanders. That is not our job. Stop with all of that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of the critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in the 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 site 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, just because we are magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.” ~Jesse Williams | June 26, 2016 | BET Awards 2016
In closing, I will say a prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, you have given Jesse the gift of mindful sight and use of words. May you continue to cover him in your safety and your mercy as he continues the fight. We are persecuted for less and in my knowledge of this earth I ask that you now make him invisible to all who choose to silence your message. May harm forget his face and danger misinterpret his name. May long life and elder age be in his future. may he not come home until you send him an invitation for dinner well after 6 decades from now. I am not foolish in this prayer. I must put in the atmosphere the opposition of that which could be against him. I offer my blessings as a sacrifice to keep Jesse safe so that we all my profit from the change that his message will inspire. All these things and more I continue to praise in your name. Amen.
Check out 2Deep’s poetry page at Ms2Deep.com