The BET Awards the last few years have been filled with nonsense. In fact, the further I distance myself from my old life,the more I wonder why I watched BET. That being said, it is no surprise that I skipped this year’s awards. I had absolutely no intention on watching them, and I’m still glad I missed them. Of all the riff raff and musical performances, there was one segment that stood out like a diamond in the rough.
Jesse Williams gave one of the most poignant speeches I’ve ever heard. Here’s a snippet.
Williams, an actor on Grey’s Anatomy since 2009, eloquently expressed his feelings on the plight of black people in 2016 America. I listened to his speech, and I was taken back at the truth in it. I thought of specific Facebook friends that just don’t get it!! Even if they heard the speech, they still wouldn’t get it. What can I say? That’s life as a black person in America.
Williams talked about Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and Eric Garner. He spoke of the many justifications for their deaths. He challenged the mindset of police always being correct. He questioned a system that was built for the advancement of a specific group. A reminder: That group involves race and class. He told the racists (even the ones who don’t know they’re racist) to sit down. You know who I’m talking about. The ones who mention black on black crime as if that negates the totality of systemic racism. The people who bring up Chicago as a talking point from the comfort of their cushy homes. The ones who say Affirmative Action is racist but have no clue why it was set up in the first place. The people who refuse to understand.
The people like Tomi Lahren.
Lahren, an anchor on The Blaze, is an advocate for the “silent white voice.” As such, she took issue with Williams’s speech. In her segment, Final Thoughts, Lahren proceeded to angrily denounce Williams and speak “her truth.” I’m not making any of this up. I encourage you to take a look for yourself.
After this diatribe, Black Twitter came out in full force ready for the fight. In classic internet fashion, things got ugly quick. Volatile emotions, vocabulary, and the internet are never a good mix. Lahren responded to the backlash with another Final thoughts segment. This is her platform. That’s what she does.
I can handle not agreeing or opening up another view of the conversation, but there are several flaws in Lahren’s argument. She fails to realize having equal rights does not mean equal treatment. In fact, a lot of people fail to realize this. Thus, when the subject of system racism is addressed the same old, tired, distracting arguments are made to justify a severely broken system.
- What about black on black crime?
- Just because I’m white, doesn’t mean I’m racist.
- Black people need to take care of their own community first.
- This rhetoric perpetuates the war on cops.
- Stop being a victim.
- Slavery didn’t affect you so don’t talk about it.
- Look at the number of black athletes that get away with crimes.
- Why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television (WET)?
- Black people only care when they are shot by the cops.
- Maybe black people should get off welfare and get a job.
I have personally read every one of these statements almost verbatim.
These are the type of people Lahren attracts whether she means to or not. These people are all around us. Their smug disposition. Their “I understand but” attitudes. Their pretentious pretend to care demeanors. This is why Americans can’t have the honest conversation Lahren calls for regarding race.
People aren’t ready to have it.
The stance Lahren takes is one of “It’s not my fault. It’s your problem” instead of “I understand. This is where I’m coming from.” She doesn’t extend her hand to search for common ground. We don’t ask for common ground.
We just blame the other.
Instead of acting like systemic racism doesn’t exist, why can’t we acknowledge it? The more people like Lahren turn a blind eye, the more the problem will manifest itself.
While Black people may be the loudest at the table, there are more people of color that deal with systemic oppression every day. Donald Trump has put such a focus on Mexican illegal immigration that people are looking sideways at all Mexican-Americans. He has perpetuated a stereotype. Ever since 9/11 Americans have side-eyed anyone who looks remotely close to Afghani. That’s a problem in itself because most Americans can’t tell the difference between the multiple nationalities in the Middle East. In fact, I just learned Pakistani is considered Asian and not Middle Eastern.
We have a long way to go, and we need to learn about each other.
Black people aren’t asking for a gold star for our existence. We are asking for a chance. Not a fictitious chance. Not dangling the carrot and yanking it when we reach. A true chance to be seen as your brothers and sisters. It’s a simple question.
Maybe that’s too much to ask for.
Copyrights belong to ET and The Blaze TV for the videos used in this blog.