At the 2016 BET Awards, 31-year-old actor and activist Jesse Williams received the BET 2016 Humanitarian Award for his support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In his speech, Williams paid tribute to black women and mothers who dedicated their lives to raising and nurturing their children. “We can and will be better for you.”
What caught our attention about Williams’ speech is he took the opportunity to specifically speak out and up for black women in a way that black men of his age and with his influence have not done for a very long time.
Here’s what we’re used to hearing from young black men with influence:
- Kevin Hart | “#handsdown Light-skinned women usually have better credit than a dark-skinned woman…Broke as dark hoes…Lol” and “Dark skinned women take a punch @ da face better than light-skinned women…u soft as yellow b–ches…lol”
- Lil Wayne | “…my daughter is the first and last dark skin child I’m having. The rest of my baby moms [are] light skinned chicks. I even got an Asian baby moms to make sure I have a daughter with good hair.”
- Young Berg | “I’m kinda racist…I don’t like dark butts…You know how some women prefer light skin men or dark skin men.It’s rare that I do dark butts – that’s what I call dark skinned women…I [don’t date women] darker than me.”
- Kanye West | “If it wasn’t for race mixing there’d be no video girls. Me and most of our friends like mutts a lot. Yeah, in the hood they call ’em mutts”
- Neyo | “All the prettiest kids are light skinned anyway.”
- Brian White | “You can’t call it a stereotype if it’s the majority…”
In the same way, Malcolm X validated the plight of black women when he shared “The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman” Williams did so to with his remarks.
We know black women are not the only ones who have been brainwashed by beauty brands seeking to perpetuate a European image. Media has waged a full out war on the image of black women for decades so much so that many black men have come to feel ambivalent towards the beauty of black women.
Williams speech on Black Lives Matter and Black Women was refreshing, inspiring and invigorating. Watch the video and read the full transcript below.
Jessie Williams Transcribed Acceptance Speech from the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award via Akuba T (Beauty Culture Tech)
Peace, peace, peace. Thank you. Thank you Debbie. Thank you Nate Parker. Before we get into it. I just want to say I brought my parents tonight. I just want to thank them for being here. For teaching me. To focus on comprehension over career. That they make sure I learn what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also to thank my amazing wife for changing my life. Now, this award 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. Alright?
It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about how 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 gonna happen is we’re gonna have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours.
Now…yesterday would have 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 y/o playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him in on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekiya Boyd how it’s so much better it is 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. Alright. Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our bodies. When we’ve spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies. And now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies?!? There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been not job that we haven’t done. There has been no tax levied against us. And we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free they keep telling us. But she would’ve been alive if she hadn’t acted so…free.
Now, freedom is 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 things straight. Just a little side note. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. Alright. Stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance. For our resistance. Then you better have an established record for the critique for our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions for those who do. Sit down. We’ve been floating this country 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 and 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. The thing is just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.