Alice Walker Jesse Williams

Even Alice Walker Was Inspired By Jesse Williams' Speech

‘The Color Purple’ author Alice Walker was so moved by Jesse Williams' BET Awards acceptance speech, she wrote a poem about it.

Alice Walker Jesse Williams

(left) Alice Walker, Jesse Williams

Alice Walker is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, so when she speaks, we listen. Recently, the Color Purple creator picked up her pen to express her gratitude to Jesse Williams for giving the most talked about speech of this year’s BET Awards.

While accepting the Humanitarian Award, Williams acknowledged the work and struggles of Black women, exalted the names of those killed by police, put the system on notice that its oppression would not be tolerated, and called on his fellow artists to step up and use their platforms to advocate for freedom. It was powerful, necessary, and unwavering, and Walker took notice.



The 72-year-old storyteller was so moved by Williams, she penned a poem—which has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook. Walker began her missive by lamenting the corporatization of the powerful moment.

“We have to endure a MacDonald’s ad before Jesse Williams’ speech,” she wrote. “Surely there is a better way to honor our people than by encouraging them to believe such a corporation cares about what they eat, unless it makes money for them.”

Despite her critique, Walker was inspired enough to write a poem about the “fear of Blackness in white culture,” as well as shower Williams with love.

Here it is

the beauty that scares you

-so you believe-

to death.

For he is certainly gorgeous

and he is certainly where whiteness

to your disbelief

has not wandered off

to die.

No. It is there, tawny skin, gray eyes,

a Malcolm-esque jaw. His loyal parents

may Goddess bless them

sitting proud and happy and no doubt

amazed

at what they have done.

For he is black too. And obviously

with a soul

made of everything.

Try to think bigger than you ever have

or had courage enough to do:

that blackness is not where whiteness

wanders off to die: but that it is

like the dark matter

between stars and galaxies in

the Universe

that ultimately

holds it all

together.


Britni Danielle is the Senior Digital Editor of EBONY.com and JETmag.com. Catch her tweeting @BritniDWrites





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