“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real."
June 27, 2016 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Jesse Williams (Grey's Anatomy) made a powerful acceptance speech at the BET awards, supporting Black Lives Matter and denouncing racism, inaction, and pushback. Full text here for US readers.
posted by ellieBOA (30 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
That link to the text takes me to BETs video page.
posted by DigDoug at 7:38 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


CONSTANT APPLAUSE
posted by odinsdream at 7:38 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here's a transcript.
posted by zabuni at 7:42 AM on June 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


I watched it via NPR's story, and DAMN. That was amazing.
posted by corvikate at 7:43 AM on June 27, 2016


Thanks Zabuni, the mods will fix the post soon too.
posted by ellieBOA at 7:45 AM on June 27, 2016


Washington Post transcript is also under a paywall. Anyone have one?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:48 AM on June 27, 2016


We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo.
posted by Etrigan at 7:50 AM on June 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


Non-WP transcript.
posted by Etrigan at 7:50 AM on June 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Washington Post transcript is also under a paywall.

You can get by the paywall by opening the link in a new private tab / in incognito mode, depending on your browser.
posted by cjelli at 7:51 AM on June 27, 2016


"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."

TRUTH!!!
posted by Sophie1 at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


Awesome Billie Holiday reference in "strange fruit".
posted by dr_dank at 7:53 AM on June 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Here’s what he said:

Thank you Debra, thank you BET. Thank you Nate Parker and Debbie Allen for participating in that. Before we get into it, I just want to say, you know, I brought my parents out. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career—they made sure I learned what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also I thank my amazing wife for changing my life.

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. Alright? 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 deescalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s gonna happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our country, or we will restructure their function, and ours.


Now I got more, y’all. 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-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that Sandra Bland. Tell that to Dorian Hunt.

The thing is, though. All of us in here getting money? That alone isn’t gonna stop this. Dedicating our lives—dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back, for someone’s brand on our body. When we 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 no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t 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 have been alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.

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 of 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’d better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest… 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 though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.

Thank you.

posted by ellieBOA at 7:59 AM on June 27, 2016 [40 favorites]


The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for 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.
Yes, thank you.
posted by rtha at 8:03 AM on June 27, 2016 [24 favorites]


I loved this. This part in particular is really helpful to me: "If you have a critique for our resistance then you’d better have an established record of critique of our oppression."
posted by gerstle at 8:05 AM on June 27, 2016 [11 favorites]


Oops, sorry. Well, I guess everybody needed to read that section three times, let it really sink in.
posted by gerstle at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is the last line of his speech referencing something particular?
posted by wester at 9:34 AM on June 27, 2016


This is fantastic. I hope it gets a wider audience.
posted by Mchelly at 9:35 AM on June 27, 2016


> Is the last line of his speech referencing something particular?

Magical Negro
posted by rtha at 9:41 AM on June 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


And of course JT had to be an idiot.
posted by TwoStride at 10:14 AM on June 27, 2016


This speech was fantastic. Actually, the whole ceremony was fantastic. BET has many (all?) of the performances on their website and they're amazing. Many of the artists did Prince tributes, Prince tributes that were a thousand times closer to what he deserved than the hot mess that Madonna came up with. They pulled from both his well-known work as well as the back catalog. Sheila E. and Janelle Monae tore it up. The (non-Prince-focused) shared performance by Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar was breathtaking. The entire awards ceremony was a glorious, unapologetic celebration of Blackness and Black excellence.
posted by schroedinger at 11:17 AM on June 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


By coincidence, I happened to be right outside where the awards were going on yesterday. We were astonished to see an extremely oversize police presence compared to the number of people in the area. Not a good look, LAPD.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:15 PM on June 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


This made me cry this morning, after Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar's performance made me cheer.

For those asking for transcripts: if you're able, I would really suggest watching the video as well. The delivery is everything.
posted by lunasol at 12:17 PM on June 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Wow.

He nailed -- perfectly nailed -- so many things in so many wonderful ways in this speech.

I'm just...stunned with amazement.

This speech is truth. No other way to put it.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:15 PM on June 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dear BET: Your website is TERRIBLE. Stop making it be terrible.

Well, now that I have found non-BET sources to watch (not just read) both Williams' speech and the Beyoncé/Kendrick Lamar performance, I am over here on my couch, crying. Damn.
posted by rtha at 2:57 PM on June 27, 2016


I knew very little about Williams' work, so this really came out of nowhere for me, and damn. This is spot on. Damn.
posted by obfuscation at 4:40 PM on June 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sheila E is just a terrific performer. Her face at the end of schroedinger's clip above made me sad.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:31 PM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]




Wow, I am sad I didn't watch the whole BET awards ceremony live. Every single clip I've watched has been amazing! Erykah Badu's Dorothy Parker was so sweet, and I loved Bilal. Jennifer Hudson belted the shit out of Purple Rain, in this really heartfelt way. Poor Stevie Wonder, I feel like he's just going to start sobbing in public one of these days thinking about Prince. What a loss this was for him.

And yeah, Jesse Williams, whoa.
posted by latkes at 7:15 AM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love Jesse Williams and he's been crushing this for a long time. Some of my favorite clips:

On Michael Dunn: "People feel tired of this criminalization of the black body."

On Michael Brown: "You will find that the people doing the oppressing often want to start the narrative at a convenient point."

On media representation: "If you don't live around black folks and you just watch TV, you're going to be racist. You should be racist. I'd be racist. It's a mathematical equation: you, and the media, and a fake-ass history system that makes you believe that white people created any of this, makes you think that black people ain't worth a damn. Of course."

On the streets in Ferguson: "This is a basic desire not to be killed with impunity."
posted by Errant at 1:07 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I had a difficult time finding video of this tonight. In case anyone else did, it's here on vimeo.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:29 PM on June 28, 2016


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