Racism is dead and was assassinated by actor, activist and humanitarian, Jesse Willams, whom was dressed, appropriately, in all black. But before we rescue ourselves from mourning the deceased, it is customary and critical that we do a full evaluation of the limbed body of racism—because it might still be alive.
His assassination attempt was at the 2016 BET Awards—when he was bestowed the 2016 Humanitarian Award for his continued commitments to humanity and social justice.
“Now, this award, this is not for me,” Jesse said. “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.” He then added, “It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.”
Organically, the crowd roared in excitement and gave Jesse a beautiful standing ovation. Finally, I imagined, that they, too, thought that racism was dead. But, some of us know by now, that, no matter how great the speech or performance was, racism has a way of staying alive.
Take, for example, President Barrack Obama’s 2008 victory speech, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dreams of our founding fathers is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy—-Tonight, is your answer.”
Then, that same night, after that moving and powerful speech, a group of young white men, Raph, Michael, and Brain, came upon a 17-year-old African American male who was walking home after watching the election speech and assaulted him. They brutalized the young man with a metal pipe and police baton, injuring his head and legs.
Much like Beyonce’s SuperBowl performance, where she, too, was dressed in all black, Jesse Willams’s prolific oratories at the BET Awards is a reminder that we should not only celebrate those who are brave enough to speak truth to power, but to remain vigilant and constantly checking the pulse of racism.
Click here to watch Jesse Williams’s full speech.