The thing is, just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.” – Jesse Williams
Last night, BET honored actor and activist Jesse Williams with the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award. After thanking those who spoke on his behalf, Williams immediately spoke to the predominantly Black audience and basically told them to “Wake TF Up!”
Considered the modern day Harry Belafonte, Williams has always used his celebrity platform to speak against the injustice of Black people within America. And last night was no different. He purposely honored recently slain victims to police brutality by “speaking their name.”
Such a powerful moment that left me in awe. If you missed it, check out the video and speech transcript below.
“Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, 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. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize. Now, this is also in particular for the black women, in particular, who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.
Now what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.
Yesterday would’ve been young Tamir Rice’s 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 Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012 than 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.
Freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but, you know what though, the hereafter is a hustle. And let’s get a couple of things straight, just a little side note, the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in 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 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, just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.”