Jesse Williams Calls Out Racism at the BET Awards

June 27, 2016 - Cynthia Erivo 06/27/2016 Views: 31,817

After Justin Timberlake praises Jesse Williams's anti-racism speech from the BET Awards, Roy Wood Jr. unpacks the white pop star's comments on black culture. (5:48)

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Now last nightwas the BET Awards,

an evening of black excellence,

or "blexillence"as it's known in the UK.


There weresome great performances,

by humanitarian award winner,actor Jesse Williams,

stole the nightwith his comments on racism.

We're done watching and waiting

while this invention called"whiteness" uses and abuses us,

burying black people outof sight and out of mind

while extracting our culture,our dollars,

our entertainment like oil,black gold.

Ghettoizingand demeaning our creations,

then stealing them,gentrifying our genius,

and then trying us onlike costumes before

discarding our bodieslike rinds of strange fruit.


Powerful words, powerful words.


Now one of the peoplewho was moved

by these powerful wordswas Justin Timberlake.

And he took to Twitter

to show respectto Jesse Williams' comments,

only to be chastisedby black Twitter

for participatingin a conversation

he's not supposedto be party to.

You know, when one personaccused Justin Timberlake

of appropriating black culture

and not defending Janet Jacksonafter the Super Bowl incident,

Timberlake apologizedand then tweeted,

"I really do feel that we areall one, a human race."

To help us make senseof all of this,

it's our seniorblack-skinned correspondent,

Roy Wood Jr., everybody.

(cheering, applause)

Thank you, Trevor.

Uh, Roy, I'm assumingyou watched the BET Awards

-this weekend? -Aw, no,I wasn't watching the BET.

Well, of course you knowI watched the BET Awards!

You know what I watchedafter the BET Awards?

The BET Awards again,West Coast feed.

And you know what I watchedafter that, Trev?

-The BET Awards?-No, Celebrity Family Feud.

I DVR'd it... whileI was watching the BET Awards.

(laughs): Fair enough.So, Roy, do you think

it's Justin Timberlake's placeto comment

-on black issues like this?-First of all, Trevor,

I understand why many peopleweren't feeling

Justin Timberlake supportingJesse Williams

when many also feel likeTimberlake has appropriated

the (bleep)out of black culture.

On the other hand,

can we give the man some creditwhere credit is due?

He was watching the BET Awards

while every other white personwas watching Game of Thrones.

(laughter, whooping, applause)

Just a little...

a little credit.

I mean, if that'snot being down with the cause,

I don't know what is.

Timberlake chose the Westsideover Westeros.

-(laughter)-Yeah, but-but, Roy,

you can see from Justin's tweetsthat he was really shook

from the reaction some peoplegave him, you know?

He was just tryingto show support

and be partof the black conversation.

And that's why he said, "Weare all one, a human race."

If we are truly one human race,

why does so much bull (bleep)in this country

only happen to one race?

You know how hard it isbeing black in America?

Being black is exhausting,it's tiring.

You wake up every day black,you go back to sleep,

-you wake up black again.-(laughter)

It's like a job, but nobodycan cover your shift.

-(laughter) -That's whythere's no black ghosts--

we're tired, Trevor.

We're exhausted.

Black people are so tiredwe ain't got the energy

to come back from the dead, man.


-That is deep. That is deep.-(groans)

Look, if anything, I thinkJustin will learn from this.

In the process of tryingto help black people,

he became a black personhimself.

He was somewherehe shouldn't have been...

-On Black Twitter.-he was doing something

he shouldn't have been doing...

Tweeting about black folks.

...and he got caughtin the crossfire.

Justin Timberlake was the victimof a Twitter drive-by.

-(laughter) -That (bleep)never saw it coming.

Whoa, Roy, so wait, you'resaying this whole incident

basically madeJustin Timberlake blacker.

Yeah. Because then he had hisactions taken out of context,

was accused of something worsethan what he did,

and has to defend himselfagainst people who won't listen.

If that ain't stealin' blackculture, I don't know what is.

-(laughter, applause)-Wow. Wow.

I never thought of it like that.I never thought of it like that.

You know, Roy, strangely enough,and this is something

that totallyscrewed me over, right?

So strangely enough,it's not just white people

getting criticismfor acting like

-they understand black issues.-Mm-hmm.

Because some people even said

because Jesse Williamsis mixed-race,

he shouldn't be talking aboutissues that affect black people

because he's not dark enough.

As it should be, Trevor.

I mean, look at you and me,Trevor, look at you and me.

-My blackness is blackerthan your blackness. -What?

Therefore I can speak to theblack experience more blackly.

I out-black your blackness.

I'm... I'm sorry, Roy, thereis nothing more destructive

than a black personfalling into a racist trap

of believingthat certain complexions

have superiority,you know, to others.

And then, like, some peoplecan speak to certain issues,

that's... that's falseand divisive.

-Fall back, light-skin.Look... -(laughter)

this is what you needto understand, man...

No, no, Roy, I'm sorry.You're doing it to me right now.

You're belittlingmy perspectives on race

just because of my skin tone.

So you thinkyou're as black as me?

I'm from Birmingham, Alabama.

That's a black-ass city.

I went to Florida A&M.

That's a black-ass college.

I worked in urban radiofor ten years.

That's a black-ass job.

I'm qualified to talk aboutblack stuff, more than you.

And I'm from South Africa.

(whooping, applause)

That's what I've been sayingthis whole time,

is that you'rea real-ass black dude.

You know, we shouldn't becompeting to see who's blacker.

It's all aboutthe experience you have,

not the tone of your skin.

'Cause, you know,at the end of the day,

somebody just gonna get hurt.You're a real black dude.

Justin Timberlakewould be proud.

-(laughter) -Thank you, Roy.