Jesse Williams Spoke the Truth About Being Black in America, Now He May Lose His Job

Jesse Williams Spoke the Truth About Being Black in America, Now He May Lose His Job
Source: AP
Source: AP

Jesse Williams's now famous speech about racism in America at the 2016 BET Awards could leave him out of a job. 

An online petition popped up over the weekend on Change.org calling for Williams to be fired from his longtime role in the hit ABC sitcom Grey's Anatomy.

The petition was started by a user named Erin Smith, who condemned Williams's "negative attitude." Smith also called Williams's words "hate speech against law enforcement and white people," and wrapped up with the controversial hashtag #AllLivesMatter.

Source: Change.org

The petition has just over 1,000 signatures, and will reportedly be given to ABC when and if it reaches 1,500.

Source: Giphy

Williams gave his speech on June 26 after accepting the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award. In it, he gave a searing indictment of racism in America. Here's an excerpt:

Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice's 14th birthday. So I don't want to hear any more about how far we've come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and going home to make a sandwich. 

Tell Rekia Boyd how it's so much better to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt. 

Now, the thing is though, all of us in here getting money, that alone isn't going to stop this. Now, dedicating our lives to getting 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. 

There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven't done. There's no tax they haven't levied against us. And we've paid all of them.

But freedom is somehow always conditional here. You're free they keep telling us. She would have been alive if she hadn't acted so free. Freedom is always coming in the hereafter.

The hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. 

Watch the full speech on BET

Meanwhile, several of the actor's supporters have launched counter petitions aimed at keeping Williams on the long-running drama. 

One of those petitions with over 11,000 signatures, also on Change.org, states its case plainly: "Don't let the racists win!" it's headline reads. "Grey's Anatomy, don't fire Jesse Williams."

ABC hasn't officially responded to the brewing controversy as of yet. But Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes appears to be on his side. The day after the award's show, Rhimes tweeted in support of Williams:

Source: Twitter

Bye, haters.

Update July 5 1t 9:03am EST: Shonda Rhimes has spoken:


Read more:
Jesse Williams' BET Awards Speech Powerfully Sums Up What It Means to Be Black in America 
In One Tweet, Justin Timberlake Tried to Whitewash Black Music on Its Biggest Night 
Twitter Users Claim Jesse Williams Benefits From "Light-Skinned" Privilege. He Agrees

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Jamilah King

Jamilah King is a senior staff writer at Mic. She was previously an editor at Colorlines.

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