Jesse Williams Talks Racism in Powerful BET Awards Speech

Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award onstage during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater June 26, 2016, in Los Angeles.
Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET

On Sunday, Jesse Williams received the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards, and during his speech, the actor and activist spoke of whom he called the true recipients of the award.

"This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers of students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do," said Williams.


Williams went on to speak about and reminded the audience to remember those who died at the hands of police, invoking the memory of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Rekia Boyd.

"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 … 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—just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real," Williams said, taking a direct shot at those who appropriate black culture.

Take a look at his speech below.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter