• Jesse Williams during his 2016 BET Awards speech. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
Sarah Norton

28 Jun 2016 - 2:09 PM  UPDATED 28 Jun 2016 - 2:09 PM

Actor Jesse Williams received the Humanitarian Award last night at the 2016 Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards and his acceptance speech is all anyone can talk about.

The Grey's Anatomy star is a longtime activist for the Black Lives Matter movement and a former teacher. His empowered speech led to a standing ovation from the crowd as he spoke about racism and the rights of black people. Here are the powerful points Williams made...


He applauded black women

After opening his speech saying the award was not for him, but for the real organisers all over the country, Williams gave special mention to black women.

“This is also in particular for the black women who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will be better for you,” he said.


He talked about police being prejudiced against people of colour

“We know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country, or we will restructure their function and ours,” he said.


He spoke about police victim Tamir Rice

“Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday; so I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come, when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich,” he said.


He said that "freedom" was conditional

“Freedom is always somehow conditional here. ‘You’re free’ they keep telling us, 'but she would’ve been alive if she hadn’t acted so…free',” he said to a rousing applause.

“Freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.”


He asked those with no interest in equal rights to “sit down”

“If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down,” he said.


He spoke of how black people are portrayed in the entertainment industry

“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. Ghetto-ising 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,” he said.


He finished with all but a mic drop – to an emotional standing ovation

“The thing is though, just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”


Watch the full speech here:


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