I must confess that I am not a fan of Black Entertainment Television, also known as BET. I cannot understand the stereotypical depiction and degradation of African American bodies billed as entertainment; for me, the name is duplicitous. And I don’t need to be entertained by these messages and images. But, I digress.
This morning, when a coworker, who does watch BET, shared this acceptance speech by Jesse Williams, I felt that I had been affirmed, heard and understood. Though aimed at crediting those for which the struggle for justice is real and daily and those who attempt to critique it when they have not protested one step much less one mile in their shoes, I could not help but see the irony as he talked about an American and frankly a rap culture that seeks money in order to wear brands, echoing that of American slavery that branded enslaved African bodies for money. His audience was filled with so- called entertainers who are all guilty and this is a battle I would not suggest that any of them enter. His words were better than any rap lyric or chorus, not that I can appreciate much less comprehend today’s rap, trap and hip hop artist’s music. But, I digress… again.
His acceptance speech rejected every stereotype of history and traditional lie about what you or I don’t understand, cannot believe or do. Words have power and if we can use them to entertain us, then we can use them to elevate us. I have said more than I intended for Mr. Williams says most of it, not all, as there is certainly room for others to respond. I would certainly welcome yours after you hear this.