Celebs speaking out: Jesse Williams

Speaking out takes courage, and when our melanated celebrities speak out we should listen, especially when it’s a celebrity like Jesse Williams.

As a man who has done so much for melanated people for a long period of time, Jesse has often been overlooked. Since the tragic death of Michael Brown, he has gained notoriety through social media, with tweets and videos of himself out in the streets in solidarity with brothers and sisters living the struggle. His ‘controversial’ speech at the BET awards was met with severe backlash across social media, to the point where white conservative America began a petition to get him fired from his hit show Grey's Anatomy.

The impact of what Jesse and others have shown, is that despite being half white, the media and white America don't want him to speak on his blackness. Yet this is the same America that considers him to be black due to the ‘one drop rule’.

It’s important to listen to our melanated celebrities, whether they are mixed or not. We shouldn’t be put off when a black and white man or woman speaks about their blackness, and our blackness, as a collective. It’s better for a mixed person to be conscious of the two sides they occupy, and the problematic histories that come with it. When a mixed person seeks to dismiss their black side, the process of doing this runs much deeper. It’s more physical, more emotional and more spiritual. They may perm their hair to emulate European beauty standards or to ‘pass’ as white, or they may choose to dis-engage in anything to do with blackness. But, when a mixed race person dismisses their white side, it’s not as deep. Why? Because we are living in a white man’s world where they can access white privilege, and use their whiteness to their advantage.

Yet, when it comes to our melanated celebrities speaking out, not all are speaking from with the rawness of others. Take Jada Pinkett for example, she called for a boycott on the Oscars due to the lack of acknowledgement and recognition for black excellence in Hollywood. We should respect her for choosing to use her voice but what took her so long to say something about it and why was Will Smith so quiet about it? Can’t help but wonder if their careers mattered more than the treatment of black people…

It’s understandable when you’re part of an industry controlled by whiteness which has the very power to destroy your career, especially when you’re melanated and you choose to speak out. This is why we as melanated people should not be so concerned with getting acknowledgement and recognition from white people. We should be looking to celebrate ourselves amongst each other.

Stacey Dash. She moves so fast to back the oppressor it’s almost like she’s on standby for when the next black celeb denounces white supremacy. Sometimes we wonder if she’s a paid agent of white supremacy, or a puppet installed to shut down black activist voices. One thing is for sure - Stacey Dash is the lost sheep of no return. She’s so lost she should have her own where’s Stacy book. Black people like her are ready to defend the undeniable injustices white supremacy inflicts on our people, because they are confused. Some are just ignorant but others like her choose to ignore the reality of racism. Instead they switch the conversation around and accuse BLM activists like Jesse, of ‘attacking white people’ – a statement she herself said, along with ‘Hollywood Plantation Slave’. Sorry but how does that even make sense? How do you even think to put ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Plantation Slave’ in the same sentence with ‘attacking white people’? If Jesse is the slave then who is doing the attacking? The slave, or the master who raped, brutalised, murdered, economically castrated and psychologically destroyed our ancestors?

What Jesse has done throughout his career from his humble start as a high school teacher in Chicago, to his recent acting career, shows us that he has been unapologetically black from the get go, and thanks to social media, he has been further exposed to a "whiter and wider" audience, which allows him to educate those unaware of their white privilege and supremacy.

In this generation, Jesse has woken up more young people to speak out against white supremacy, as well as having focus groups for enriching young melanated men and women to impact the world today and forever.

If this is “controversy” – we certainly wish more celebs would be controversial, just not in the Stacy Dash mould.