Accepting an humanitarian honour at the recent Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards, Grey's Anatomy star Jesse Williams delivered a rousing speech addressing racial inequality in the US and police prejudice against people of colour. He was widely commended for his comments, but it seems not everyone was applauding.
Someone took to Change.org to launch a petition that calls for the actor to be dumped from the long running medical drama for his "racist" words that night.
It reads, “Jesse Williams spewed a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people at the BET awards."
“If this was a white person making the same speech about an African American, they would have been fired and globally chastised, as they should be, but there has been no consequences to Williams' actions," it goes on.
The petition, which has currently garnered 14,000 signatures, draws a comparison with the show’s former star Isaiah Washington who was fired in 2007 for making homophobic remarks, and adds the hashtag, “Equal consequences for racist behaviour”.
Shonda Rhimes, Grey's Anatomy's creator and lead writer, promptly issued a damning response on Twitter, writing, “Um, people? Boo don't need a petition.”
Following Rhimes' retort, the petition’s creators doubled down and updated the page to slam her. In their words, her represents nothing less than “a blatant slap in the face to the entire human race”.
“Shonda not only praised him, but she condones his actions. Obviously, she has no intention of enforcing #EqualConsequences4RacistBehavior and chooses to be a hypocrite.”
In his BET speech, Williams mentioned 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was shot dead by Cleveland police and said, "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.”
You can catch the full speech below:
— 100% (@goafgang) June 27, 2016