Many were left speechless tonight as BET handed Jesse Williams their Humanitarian Award during their assortment of other awards given away as the 2016 BET Awards commenced. Jesse Williams, long time actor and activist absolutely nailed what it is like to be black, marginalized, and ultimately exploited of freedoms, economic opportunities and even culture in America.
“Just because we’re magic does not mean we’re not real” – Jesse Williams
The basis of Jesse’s speech regarded the criminal justice system and how it targets black individuals, whereas in recent times we have become numb to non-threatening and often unarmed black individuals being killed by our militarized police force around the country for either petty crime, stereotypical suspicion, or blatant non-crimes of “being black in public”. Jesse references Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland, a young woman, although unarmed and not aggressive was killed while in police custody after a traffic stop by Texas state trooper Brian Encinia. All of their situations vary, however, their encounter with law enforcement, which posted no threat to the officers involved, ultimately ended up in their deaths.
Jesse Williams goes into depth about the establishment and systematic racism black people face on a daily basis despite our economic influence in regards to the brands we purchase, our workforce and our cultural influence that is irreplaceable to America pop culture as a whole. Gentrification has robbed black people of their settlements synonymous longtime struggle but that wealth and opportunity has not been shared with them. Jesse insinuates that if there is not change within this establishment of modern slavery, there will be revolution in the likes of what Ferguson flirted with. There is clearly a disconnect with the system and the people it is meant to serve; if the system doesn’t serve us, Jesse, like many others, are activating to freeze that same system.
Check out a brief clip of the speech below. We will upload the full clip once it’s available by BET sources.
Update: Full clip available below courtesy of BET