After Jesse Williams gave his speech at the 2016 BET Awards last June 26, the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ actor earned himself a standing ovation as well as approval from many of his fans.
However, it seems that not everyone was pleased with his views as a civil rights activist.
A petition shared on Change.org accuses Williams of giving out “racist” comments against white people and encouraging hatred towards the authorities. As such, it has been requested that the actor should be fired and taken off his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’
The 34-year-old actor was given the Humanitarian award for his efforts in supporting civil rights. His speech touched the subject of black women, families, teachers, lawyers and students who continue to experience oppression in the country. He also called attention to the issue on police brutality and its impact on the recent victims.
During his five-minute speech, he briefly discussed his views on how black people’s concepts are being taken by white people and passed off as their own.
"We're done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing 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," the actor said to the audience.
The current petition against Williams strongly demands that the ABC network, on which ‘Grey's Anatomy’ airs, should make a stand against the activist’s comments. It also emphasizes the hashtags #AllLivesMatter and #EqualConsequences4RacistBehavior.
"If this was a white person making the same speech about an African American, they would have been fired and globally chastised, as they should be, but there has been no consequences to Williams' actions," the petition further states.
Moreover, it draws attention to the actor’s speech being unfair as it is said to focus merely on one side of the story and shows a negative attitude.
"Why was Burke's character fired from Grey's Anatomy after his inappropriate homophobic slur, but nothing for Jesse Williams? Why the one-way street? Why the support for a hater? Why the hypocrisy?” it added.
The petition has already raked in over 22,000 signatures to date.
Williams already commented on the appeal against, tweeting: "Not a single sane sentence in their claim. Not One.”
Earlier, although he was not directly addressing the petition, the father-of-two also shared a message to his online followers, saying: “Do not promote empty people & their tantrums. Pure clickbait to gain followers, attention & money, for themselves, not you. Never you."
As for ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ series creator Shonda Rhimes, she has taken a side in the actor’s current ordeal.
"In woods. Far from wifi. Get signal! What'd I miss? Just because we're magic doesn't mean we're not real. @iJesseWilliams' speech. YES,” she wrote on Twitter.
The screenwriter also assured fans that Williams, who has been on the show for almost seven years, will remain with them.