Jesse Williams AKA: Activist Bae

As made evident by the title this article was supposed to be about Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams and his gut punching speech he gave at the BET awards. It still is. But as I type this Black America has experienced yet another traumatic murder of one of our brothers at the hands of police. So, in my mind at least, Jesse’s speech is even more relevant and poignant in the wake of this. Jesse was awarded the Humanitarian award but he dedicated it to “other activists, black women, and the struggling parents, the teachers who are realizing that a system built to divide, impoverish and destroy us, cannot stand if we do” He went on: “We’ve been looking at the data, and we know 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’re gonna restructure their function and ours” Translation: Either give us due process and convict these officers OR we will have to come at ya’ll a different way and tear this system apart from the inside out. WHEW BABY!!   At least, that’s what I got out of it. His speech even inspired Alice Walker. Earlier last week she published a poem inspired by Jesse and his speech:

the beauty that scares you

-so you believe-

to death

For he is certainly gorgeous

and he is certainly where whiteness

to your disbelief

has not wandered off

to die.

No. it is there, tawny skin, gray eyes,

a Malcolm-esque jaw. His loyal

parents

may God bless them

sitting proud and happy and no doubt

amazed

at what they have done.

For he is black too. And obviously

with a soul

made of everything

Try to think bigger than you ever have

or had courage to do:

that blackness is not where whiteness

wanders off to die: but that it is

like the dark matter

between stars and galaxies in

the Universe

that ultimately

holds it all

together.

Ms. Walker stated the poem is about the fear of Blackness in white culture, but was also meant to praise Williams. Now, I have seen many different reactions to Jesse and his speech. Including someone starting a petition to have him fired for “hate speech against police officers and white people”. For me, though, the most offensive negative response came from within the black community itself. Dozens of posts bashing Jesse, saying he’s a poser, he’s only being listened to because he’s light skinned. People even putting him up against David Banner and Umar Johnson, saying he’s not saying anything they haven’t wondering why no one is listening to them. Well for one Umar is a big a liar and for two, who said people weren’t? Let me be clear: Jesse has been doing this since college. Let me take ya’ll back a lil bit.

Jesse Williams graduated from Temple University with a double major in African-American Studies and Film and Media Arts. He was a high school teacher in the public schools of Philly for six whole years. He taught, African Studies, American Studies and English. So the man knows what he’s talking about. He’s not coming out of the blue for likes and comments; this is something he’s passionate about. He’s our generations Harry Belafonte. He is activist bae and there is no doubt in my mind Jesse is ride or die for his people, and to me petty nonsense on facebook  is just a distraction. Especially when you consider this game we’re in, it’s life or death. And today another brother of ours met his death at the hands of two officers who decided they were judge, jury, and executioner. For me, Jesse’s words and activism are more meaningful because his speech was a warning for the establishment and a call to action for the people. Because we all know how this will play out: The officers will say he was a threat and they were scared or the media will dehumanize him and paint him as a thug and then there will be no trial or convictions most likely. How many times do we wanna do this dance? So like he said, we either get justice or we tear it all down and start over. It’s their move.

Negroes sweet and docile,

Meek, humble, and kind:

Beware the day

They change their minds!

Wind

In the cotton fields,

Gentle breeze:

Beware the hour

It uproots trees!

Langston Hughes

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