Did you watch the BET Awards last night? I know, I know. In recent years it hasn’t been my go to either. At best, I’d record it and just fast forward to the highlights.
Pause though because last night I watched and didn’t even miss the commercials. Everything was a highlight. Let me tell you that the BET AWARDS ARE BACK and I’m all here for it. With that Beyoncé and Kendrick opening performance of “Freedom” I thought I’d seen the best of the show. I may have turned the channel afterwards if my hands and hair weren’t covered in Shea Butter. Glad I didn’t.
Some of the script was corny, yes, but the speakers and performers got real on so many levels. Did anyone else peep the back of Usher’s jacket?
The show got political whenever possible. It didn’t seem staged either. There was a very real and clear concern about the future of the country if Trump becomes president. The celebrities reminded us that our voices do count. We all came together to make history for the Obama terms but not voting this coming November will reset history to a time when America was never great for us. I don’t know about you but I don’t wanna travel back in time as a Black American. I wanna see what the future is looking like for Blacks and so do these celebrities.
Let’s talk about the speech turned sermon given by Jesse Williams that took us all to church Sunday night. If you missed it, watch it here
I was excited that the Humanitarian award was being given based on work in activism. Then, the camera showed a (what I thought was) white face with blue eyes. My smile faded and I was immediately annoyed that they were giving the award to a White guy in a Black Movement. Next, I realized that Jesse Williams is actually Black. So then I thought they picked him ’cause he light skinned.
When he opened his mouth though… I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay quiet or shout. Jesse Williams hit ALL the right notes last night. He dedicated the award to those being recycled in a system designed for our destruction and to the Black women “who have spent their lives nurturing everyone before themselves.” Williams was not afraid to ‘say her name’ or his. He said the name of then 12 year old Tamir Rice who would’ve turned 14 the day before, along with others who were unjustly murdered by police with no consequence.
He PREACHED to us and to all. He said to those who try to assess ad criticize our movement, “If you have a critique for our resistance then you’d better have an established record, a critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do: sit down.”
There’s so much I can say about Williams’ words and the strength in them. My edges were snatched but for two reasons beyond the speech itself.
First, I was reminded that complexion doesn’t make a black man or woman any less important in this work. I initially dismissed Williams because of the color of his skin and eyes. They were “too light.” Isn’t that just as bad as thinking someone is too dark to be capable of a job? While we should continue to push back against European beauty standards, it is also important to check ourselves so that we do not create and push our own standard of what an activist should look like. We need everyone to get involved. One can be as close to that European standard as possible and still carry the tools to thrust our gospel forward. I have no right to rob anyone of their blackness. We all come in different shapes and shades.
We all have our own prejudices. Part of this work, and being a properly functioning human in general includes having to self reflect and correct.
Second, it was clear to me that Williams has some real privilege…BUT he uses that privilege to speak for those in our community who have none. He of ALL people could easily choose to pass as white and separate himself from the community. If he did, no one would notice the difference. Although he doesn’t have to, he chooses to identify confidently as a Black American. He uses his activism to point to the disadvantages and prejudices that plague so many because of the pigment he doesn’t possess. He stands with us to fight for something that may not directly affect him in the way it affects most of the black community. All of us have some type of privilege in some way. We must first recognize it and consciously choose to stand with those who suffer because they lack that same privilege.
In conclusion….everyone went in last night in multiple ways. The BET Awards are back and it goes pretty deep. Make sure to catch the rerun.
*Starting Saturday July 9th, BlackBlushBlog will be switching to a summer schedule lasting until September. Instead of posting on both Tuesdays AND Saturdays, I will only put up new blog posts on Saturday’s. Starting that same week, I will begin posting articles highlighting someone in the Black Community on the second WEDNESDAY of every month. Thank you for reading*