Although the commercials promised it would be “lit,” I really wasn’t expecting much from the BET awards. A couple cray outfits to show up on the blogs, a few performances for us to roast on Black Twitter, some wilding out on the red carpet, and as always, MC Lyte.
But this year, BET surprised us all by not only putting together a series of epic tributes to Prince’s legacy, but also demanding that we stay woke. The revolution was televised, and it started off with Bey and Kendrick killing “Freedom.” Stomping through the water, they lit a fire under the audience.
Throughout the night, presenters and celebs encouraged us to use our right to vote and make change in our country, but Jesse Williams’ passionate speech moved us all. Accepting the Humanitarian Award, #wokebae spit knowledge that had the entire audience on their feet.
After thanking BET, his wife, and his parents, they Grey’s Anatomy star launched the greatest acceptance speech Black Entertainment Television has ever seen. “This award is not for me,” he said. “This is for the real organizers all over the country, the activist, 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 celebrated and gave props to Black women, saying, “This award is also for the black women in particular who have spent their lives nurturing everyone before themselves — we can and will do better for you.”
And then, he schooled us all on the system that strives to keep our people down and our freedom chained. “But freedom is always conditional here. ‘You’re free!’ they keeping telling us. ‘But she would be alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.’ Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but the hereafter is a hustle: We want it now.” “We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries,” he continued. “And 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 like oil — black gold! — ghettoizing and demeaning our creations and stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.”
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
The only thing that could have made this speech any better would have been a mic drop at the end.
Watch the full speech and get woke.