Every now and then, an individual well known to the public eye delivers a speech worthy of praise and applaud. During this year’s BET Awards ceremony, Jesse Williams, an activist and Grey’s Anatomy actor, bravely graced the stage to receive a humanitarian award. Who knew he had such a powerful speech concerning police brutality against African Americans up his sleeve?

Williams' politically conscious and outstandingly passionate speech was unapologetic. He  directly addressed the unmerciful killings of African Americans by an unjust police system. As he listed off the various people who lost their lives, there was an urgency to demobilise a system that diminishes equal rights, and for African Americans to be aware of their origin. He showed gratitude to Black women, questioned the myth of conditional freedom and touched on the reality of cultural appropriation.

Responses to this speech and the stand for full equality campaigned through the humanitarian slogan Black Lives Matter have been diverse. Shonda Rhimes, creator of prime-time US dramas such Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, took to twitter to defend Williams stating, ‘Boo don’t need a petition’, after a petition was signed due to the perceived racist and hateful nature of the speech.

Conversations that engage with issues of race will always produce contrasting opinions. But, one thing that can’t be denied about William’s speech is its heartfelt and courageous quality and its call for racial equality to move from being a goal to a standard.

Photo Credit: Popsugar, BBC


Published by Chermaine Sowah