Remember, the BET Awards shown live on that infamous Sunday back in June 2016? And that Grey’s Anatomy heartthrob’s poignantly and powerfully versed speech? C’mon, the one that sparked an avalanche of controversy and shady backlash! Or the other controversy dominating sports headlines, you know the West coast NFL quarterback who won’t stand for the National Anthem, due to current conditions in our country? Yes, these two bold men have something in common, beyond blasting the inequalities and racial strife between Blacks and Whites. They are the biracial uprising against the blatant disregard for human life of minorities. And the downright oppressive mentality of the privileged thumbing their noses at the lower class society’s seemingly irrelevant existence.
Jesse Williams, a double major in African American Studies and Film/Media from Temple University, followed the path his parents took, teaching in the public school system. He started as a substitute teacher before going full-time finding it a rewarding experience, but exhausting, he told Parade Magazine. He taught high school history in Philadelphia, and witnessed first hand, the extreme high levels of poverty, inequality and injustice influencing his activism and political platform. Thus, using his celebrity status to bring attention to his activism. So the Chicago native’s eloquently and passionately spoken words; reminiscent of actor/activist, Harry Belafonte, whom he’s often compared to, came as no surprise to many at the BET Awards. It should also be mentioned that Williams was front and center during the 2014 Ferguson protests against then Officer Darren Wilson fatally shooting unarmed Michael Brown, Jr.
Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand during the National Anthem ignited controversy, but on a much different level.
Colin Kaepernick, a Milwaukee native spawned controversy and food for thought back in August, with his refusal to stand during the National Anthem. Clearly, his attitude is reflective of a Credence Clearwater Revival song titled “Fortunate One”. Where the lyrics state…
“Some folks are born made to wave flag, ooh they’re red, white, blue. When the band plays “hail to the chief”, ooh they point the cannon at you Lord. It ain’t me, it ain’t me I ain’t no senator’s son son. It ain’t me, it ain’t me I ain’t no fortunate one”
Just as this song’s blatant honesty caused controversy back in the 60’s, the lyrics compliment eerily Colin Kaepernick’s reasoning for not honoring the flag. Kaepernick, a NFL Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, stated during a Preseason post-game interview…
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
Their activism and political awareness of a hypocritical society is fascinating; considering both of these men are the product of interracial relationships and marriages. Many Black and White celebrities alike, are not really speaking out about the current conditions of our society per se. Perhaps, due to their belief of losing endorsements and fans. We’ll never truly know what lies underneath high society; until it hits too close too home. But for these celebrities, they will not rest until there is change. And will not be silent, until they are heard.