Actor and activist Jesse Williams’ impassioned speech at the BET Awards may have inspired a rousing standing ovation with that audience, but it has incited outrage in other quarters of society.
According to Change.org, a petition is gathering steam to get the actor fired from “Grey’s Anatomy” because he uttered “a cascade of inappropriate, unprofessional and racist commentary against police officers and Caucasians.”
Thus far, the petition has more than 23,000 signatures.
Williams, 34, dismissed and denounced the petition by swatting away their baseless claims.
“Not a single sane sentence in their claim. Not One,” Williams tweeted on Wednesday.
The petition accuses Jesse Williams of delivering “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. There’s been no companies making a stand against his racist remarks and no swift action condemning his negative attitude … Why was Burke’s character fired from Grey’s Anatomy after his inappropriate homophobic slur, but nothing for Jesse Williams? Why the one-way street? Why the support for a hater? Why the hypocrisy? #AllLivesMatter All humans bleed the same color. #EqualConsequences4RacistBehavior.”
Megastar producer and show creator Shonda Rhimes basically characterized the petition as frivolous. “Um, people? Boo don’t need a petition,” she said adding the hashtag “#shondalandrules”
Norman Lear, the white man who created the iconic shows such as “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons,” also defended Williams. “I’ve seen and attended a ton of awards shows in my time, and no one has ever put his soul and his ass on the line so fully and so truthfully as Jesse Williams did at the BET Awards last week,” Lear told IndieWire. “Wither thou goest, Mr. Williams, I will follow.”
The person who started the petition, Erin Smith, is adamant about destroying Williams, writing, “Unfortunately, a necessary escalation is warranted. Please sign the petition to fire Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy AND boycott the entire ABC Network. Don’t forget to unlike all ABC programs/shows on Facebook pages, unfollow all on Twitter and separate from all social media that has anything to do with ABC, their shows, news, etc.”
“This is a blatant slap in the face to the entire human race. Shonda not only praised him, but she condones his actions,” she added. “A true ‘humanitarian’ would never have created this situation to begin with, but at least he could’ve admitted to using his words poorly, apologized and rephrased so all of this could have gone away. I’m shocked that someone who wants equality would spew such divisive rhetoric. Jesse is dividing rather than unifying. Everyone should be encouraging Unity. Double standards should not exist. Apparently, Shonda thinks this is her world and she can do whatever she wants. Jesse’s rant only fuels racism and further divides Americans. All races must unify and take a stand against this.”
What do you make of Williams’ explosive speech and the subsequent petition to get him fired? Have both sides taken it too far? Or did Williams finally say publicly what many have thought or said privately?