Jesse Williams accepted the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards Sunday night and in the process gave one of the most powerful speeches in award show history.
Williams, who has risen to prominence with his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, delivered what can only be described as an epic speech at this year's BET Awards. The actor received the special Humanitarian Award and spoke freely about black culture in the modern world.
"Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle," the actor said. "We want it now. And let's get a couple of things straight here, just a little sidenote. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That's not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of 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."
He continued, "This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers of students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do."
Williams also made sure to give a special shoutout to black women who have put "everyone everyone before themselves," adding, "We can and will do better for you."
The actor also spoke on the appropriation of black culture within the world of entertainment.
"We've been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo. And we're done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us," he explained. "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 then stealing them. Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we're magic doesn't mean we're not real."
The audience at the award show was on its feet through most of Williams' speech and gave the actor a huge round of applause as he walked off.
Check out the full speech below:
— deray mckesson (@deray) June 27, 2016