By now you’ve heard about Jesse Williams’ acceptance speech for the Humanitarian award at the BET award ceremony. If you haven’t Click This Link to watch.
I haven’t followed his career closely. I just know him as Dr. Avery on Grey’s Anatomy. I will say that I haven’t been moved by words like this in a long time. So much it inspired me to do a self portrait series last night.
Talking about race, and race relations seem to polarize people. People say, “Well if you stop talking about it, it will go away.”
The fact is, many times I don’t talk about it. I live it.
I live it when I speak with people over the phone, and they finally meet me in person. I see the look in their eyes as if to say “Oh I thought she was white. She sounded white.”
Am I not to be articulate, because of the color of my skin?
I live it when I was looking for an apartment in a “good neighborhood." Even though, my credit is immaculate, and we have a steady income, many times the apartment got “rented to someone else.”
I live it walking down the street alone minding my own business. A man drives by and yells “GET OUT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD NIGGER!”
I live it when someone I’m dining with says: “Is there a secret black people handshake that I have to do to get one of your ribs.”
No, there isn’t. I mean you could have just asked like a normal human being would.
Guys, I’m not here to say all white people are bad, and all black people are radical race baiters....
The fact is I’m black. I am force. I am fierce. I am magical. Don’t let it intimidate you. You don’t have to be “afraid” of us. Just don’t ask to touch my hair.
Many times I sit in silence when people speak ignorance. I have to pick my battles, and some people are just not worth it. Sunday night Jesse Williams eloquently said so many things I wish I could articulate. The rush I felt as I let his words resonate with me were the same as when I documented the Millions March NYC, in 2014. This is what I wrote on Facebook about my experience that night:
"Being an American is a pretty damn good thing. Even though aspects of our country are pretty screwed up, all and all we are better off than most. I'm proud that we have freedom of speech (to an extent sometime).
We have the right to rally, gather, and protest when we feel we have been wronged. I had the experience of documenting the Millions March NYC. To be honest I haven't followed the events leading up to it as closely as most. As I played my role as photo journalist, I was moved to tears by the chanting, genuine love, and brotherhood by complete strangers coming together for a cause they believed in. Regardless of how you feel either way about the Eric Garner case, you gotta admit a peaceful protest is a beautiful thing." December 14, 2014
So what is the solution then? I say its love. Love, understanding, and empathy.