Last night the BET Awards aired live from the Microsoft Theater. As usual they held no punches when it came to star factor (although the the hosting and some of the scripting between awards was a little meh) all of the big names past and present were there from Bey to Future. There were several Prince tributes mingled in, but the highlight of the night was the stunningly beautiful speech delivered by Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy.
His acceptance speech for the Humanitarian Award for his efforts and contribution to the Black Lives Matter Movement was more than a speech.
It was a war cry. It was a lament.
It was a slap in face to the justice system of America and a blow to the gut to White corporate America for making money off of us.
He even decimated the his colleagues in the entertainment field for the proliferation of the white captiolist ideology that continues to keep us shackled, “Now dedicating our lives to get money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body, when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.”
The audience rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation, but the party continued.
That’s when I thought about the inherent connection between the music and the movement. We are not just at war with white America. We are at war with ourselves if we can celebrate trappin’ and Jesse Williams at the same time. The conflict is within our own community.
Don’t worry I’m not throwing stones. I was dabbing with Desiigner like I got broads in Atlanta and know credit scammers and I was All the Way Up with Remy Ma like I just got released from prison and own a Birkin. Seriously though, what will it take to sustain the evolution and Revolution that Williams spoke about?
It’s going to take us.
Musicians and artists who will use not only their platform to speak like they have sense, but actually pen music and write stories that match the resistance like the artists of the Civil Rights did. We need new versions of “Strange Fruit”and images of ourselves that we will not allow to be appropriated or fetishized even by our own people (Trap Soul, really?).
If Black Lives Matter they must matter to us first. You are what eat and music is food for the soul. I hope that Williams’ speech combined with Beyoncé (I’m cringing while typing this I am not in the BeyHive and I want her to please tell someone about Fuerza Bruta she is not the inventor of dancing in water, but digress this about unity) and Kendrick Lamar’s Freedom performance will stir something inside of every black artist to reclaim the freedom that seems to be slipping away through their art.
Or maybe I’m asking for too much? What do you think the role of the artist black or white is in America?