It very pretty much an annual event, me tuning into the BET Awards. I was probably even more excited that Beyonce, one of my all-time favorite musicians was performing. And while Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson did such a great job hosting, the two main highlights of the show was truly Beyonce and Jesse Williams speech.
Beyonce for many of you already dropped her sixth album Lemonade roughly two months ago. It was a mix of black feminism, coping with infidelity and black power. One of the songs that stuck in my brain and probably the one I analyzed the most was “Freedom” with Kendrick Lamar which she opened up the BET Awards with. The beginning leaves you in a trance as you start to hear excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr's “I have a dream” speech. The visuals were already stunning as you see Beyonce in a sparkly bodysuit with braids and her dancers with unique getups dance in the water. However what caught me was how she used her pipes to sing “Freedom” with so much conviction. The song is a testament to of the social and racial inequality that African Americans face in America from the time we came here as slaves to today as well. It feels like you're in church with the most powerful preacher. “Freedom Freedom I can’t move/Freedom Freedom cut me loose” are such powerful lyrics that touches your soul as an African American no matter your socioeconomic status. This was a very important highlight to me as it showed Beyonce, possibly the most powerful celebrity in the world and a black woman was using her platform to reintroduce black power and help better the situation of Black America.
Jesse Williams, like Beyonce, also has been making efforts to bring a change for African Americans. Williams for those who don’t know him, is a cast member of the hit ABC series Grey’s Anatomy. Besides recognizing him from the show and as an incredibly sexy man, I didn’t know much about his history as a humanitarian which is what he was awarded for this past Sunday. He went to Temple University and majored in African American Studies & Film/Media Arts. After graduated he began teaching African American history and diaspora. An opportunity to become an actor presented itself which got to where he is today. However besides that, he has been an activist participant in the Black Lives Matter movement, a member of social issues and civil rights groups. When he got up and gave his speech, it was beyond moving. He came off as assertive but not arrogant. He was informative and persuasive but not ignorant. Aside from mentioning the systematic racial injustice that results in black lives being taken at the hands-off policy, he also talked about black women and how they’ve done so much for us but don’t get credit. This hit very close to my heart, as I’ve seen for myself the marginalization of black women from black men who otherwise praise Caucasian girls. It’s okay to have a preference, it’s another thing to completely bash an entire race of woman who was with you from day one. One of the last lines he said in his speech is “The thing is... that just because we’re magic does not mean we’re not real”. Somehow it left me with ambiguity and curiosity to dissect that quote. After the whole speech, I for whatever reason realize that I would like to be with a man who not only has great looks but is smart and socially conscious at the same time.
You can tell from watching the news local and national, that this decade has not served African Americans well. Yes, we have Obama as president but our community has to deal with poverty, limited educational opportunities, being murdered by police and deranged white men as well as being marginalized on an everyday basis from a FOX News commentator or a politician. However like Beyonce has said we have to keep running. We’ve come too far and this what these two celebrities wanted our community and country to know.