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-
For he is certainly gorgeous
and he is certainly where whiteness
to your disbelief
has not wandered off
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
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
holds it all
Britni Danielle is the Senior Digital Editor of EBONY.com and JETmag.com. Catch her tweeting @BritniDWrites