Look, as much as I love when the “sinners” and “saints” can come together — on a Sunday, no less, and shout a resounding “Amen!” to
Pastor Jessie Williams’ acceptance speech at the BET Awards, my side-eye — much like the force to a Jedi — refuses to be no less then strong within me.
Firstly, because this isn’t something new he is saying. Not to say that his words weren’t perfectly-crafted, his tenor spot-on, and executed in undoubtedly the most opportune moment; this is just rhetoric that… hell — I’ve probably said in a random post on my Facebook wall!
Of course this now comes off as one who may be salty for whatever reason (although I did, have, and will forever give my man his props and furthermore take nothing away from him), but I’m not. I am, however, curious as to why beyond the aforementioned reason this was such a moving speech that almost eclipses anything our current President could’ve conjured up (or, at least his best speech writer).
And then it hit me…
For the record, I knew nothing about Jessie Williams before Sunday. Until I did my due-diligence, I thought he was some activist that BET decided to get revolutionary (for a hot minute) and award him with a Muhammad Ali/Malcom X Award For Positive Contribution To The African American Community
presented by the NAACP, sponsored by McDonalds… for, perhaps, being somehow instrumental in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
But, he’s an actor. An actor…?
I know, I still sound salty. But, follow me…
I’m sure that he, as an African American in Hollywood, has seen his share of racism, no less been exposed to the examples in the same way we have been in these recent times. However, my crying of foul comes not only from the fact that he’s an actor, but also because of one very telling aspect of him that (for lack of a better way of describing) bothers me.
Upon trolling his IMDB page, I was given more reasons as to why I should not be opposed (i.e. a hater) to him. I mean, he’s from Chicago (like me), born in ’81 (like me), loves to act (like me, although he is way more successful than I am obviously), etc. Our ideals seem to be aligned as men in our now 30’s, with regard to how we are affected by, and thus feel the need to change, situations in the African American community. I do believe that he and I probably would’ve been a best friends had our paths crossed back in the day. I’d have a been with him now, if given the opportunity.
Okay, okay. So having said all these great things that certainly betray an almost aversion to the BET incident, why am I seemingly having issues with Brother Williams…? Because he, himself — to also include what I considered the blatant pandering in his speech — is the culmination of a (to my belief, unintentional) fallacy of bandwagoning. Falsely galvanizing
a great many black people to be compelled to take up arms and join the revolution.
Brother Williams is on a show (the show) that happens to be the birth-child of Shonda “Middle-Name-Might-As-Well-Be-Busta-Because-I-Got-Y’all-All-In-Check” Rhimes, on one of the three major television networks, playing a character that is not only über positive but also otherwise a rarity in our community. He is ruggedly handsome, sensitive but from a notorious city so he could also
and conveniently be seen as a roughneck if need be, whose image of portraying a powerful figure of knowledge and control over life and death has been globally-projected— And who also looks very Jesus-y.
There’s my beef.
Not only was he the right person, at the right time, on the right platform, with the right words to say, he also subconsciously tapped into the inherent image of many of us that grew up in the church are familiar with: ol’ blue-eyed, “olive skinned” Christ. This is why his words were so potent, because I do not believe that if James Picket Jr. would have made that very same speech, would not have been this almost holy reverence from the audience and stirring on (especially black) social media.
Again, in my last post, I stated that there was nothing spectacular or revolutionary Brother Williams stated that hasn’t already been said before. Furthermore, it was my challenge — stated through hard side-eyes — for all who’d jumped, whooped, hollered, and praised his words (especially to the great many, and furthermore influential, ones who were in the audience) to do something about it.
The results of which I truly remain a cynic about.
I have to say though… Chicago has a great pedigree of charismatic, well-spoken black men who are not all pimps!!!