Like many people, Justin Timberlake was extremely moved by actor Jessie William’s acceptance speech at the 2016 BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards. But the pop singer was hit by a wave of Twitter backlash after Tweeting a supportive, yet ‘ignorant’ message about Jessie’s speech.
Jessie, who is a social justice advocate and known for his role in the television series Grey’s Anatomy, graciously accepted the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards on Monday night. During his acceptance speech, he used the platform to speak about white appropriation of black culture and equal rights within the entertainment industry.
“The invention called whiteness used and abuses us,” the 34-year-old said. “Burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold, ghettoising and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.
“This award is not for me. It's for the real organizers across the country: the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents … that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand."
Justin, 35, Tweeted his support shortly after, “@iJessieWilliams tho… #Inspired #BET2016”, however his short Tweet was not well received and has since been deleted. One follower hit back saying, “So does this mean you’re going to stop appropriating our music and culture? And apologize to Janet too. #BETAwards.”
Another wrote, “Inspired you to do what? Continue to emulate black culture through your music while ignoring issues affecting black people.”
.@jtimberlake you realize the whole point of his speech you praised was that were NOT the same tho. right?— Myles Brown (@mdotbrown) June 27, 2016
@jtimberlake as a fan: all you have to do is listen. Don't get defensive. Just listen. Hear what folks are saying.— Anil Dash (@anildash) June 27, 2016
The Twitter turmoil continued and Justin hit back at haters in a series of defensive, then apologetic, Tweets.
I feel misunderstood. I responded to a specific tweet that wasn't meant to be a general response. I shouldn't have responded anyway...— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
I forget this forum sometimes... I was truly inspired by @iJesseWilliams speech because I really do feel that we are all one... A human race— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
I apologize to anyone that felt I was out of turn. I have nothing but LOVE FOR YOU AND ALL OF US.— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
Jessie is yet to comment on Justin’s Tweets.