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.
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For our brother, soldier, and friend MarShawn McCarrel II

On Monday evening at 6p.m. MarShawn McCarrel stood on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse, put a gun to his head and ended his life. There were no witnesses and no clues as to why he did it, although tweets and facebook posts just moments before hinted at what he planned to do. Hours before he updated his Facebook status “My demons won today, I’m sorry” and his last tweet reading “Let the record show I pissed on the statehouse before I left”.

McCarrel was only 23 years old at the time of his death but he had already made a name for himself most notably as a member of the Black Lives Matter Movement, having helped organize the Ohio protests after the killing of Michael Brown in 2014 at the hands of Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. He also spearheaded a youth mentorship program Pursuing Our Dreams; and having been homeless for 3 month after graduating high school, he also started the Feed the Streets program; a program that helps feed Ohio’s homeless population. Earlier this year he was also given a Hometown Champion’s award by Radio One. This young man had a heart for people which is what his family suspects ultimately led to his death with his twin brother and mother stating he often put the cause before himself. This is something most Social Justice activists know all too well. This work is very taxing, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically. When you spend day in and day out fighting against the ugly nature of racism, world hunger, slavery, sexism, etc it begins to take a toll on you. Those things are the uglier side of human nature. Just this week Ohio officer Lee Cyr  has been placed on leave after he posted “Love a happy ending” next to his name under a thread about MarShawn’s suicide. This is the type of ugliness our brother was fighting against. But it’s even harder fighting our own demons sometimes. Continue Reading