Jesse Williams responds to petition to get him fired

Jesse Williams accepts the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award (Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/BET)
Kevin Winter/BET

Jesse Williams responds to petitioners looking to get him fired from “Grey’s Anatomy” following his BET Awards acceptance speech.

Following his June 26 remarks on racial injustice, a user organized a petition claiming that the actor delivered “a cascade of inappropriate, unprofessional and racist commentary against police officers and Caucasians.” The petition has nearly quadrupled with over 23K signatures to date.

“Not a single sane sentence in their claim. Not One,” Williams, 34, tweeted on Wednesday, July 6.

“A system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize,” he said on stage at the BET Awards, dedicating the award to the “real organizers all over the country, the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers and the students.”

According to the petition, “Jesse Williams spewed a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and White people at the BET awards. 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. There’s been no companies making a stand against his racist remarks and no swift action condemning his 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? #AllLivesMatter All humans bleed the same color. #EqualConsequences4RacistBehavior.”

Meanwhile, showrunner Shonda Rhimes basically laughed off the appeal, tweeting, “Um, people? Boo don’t need a petition,” followed with the hashtag “#shondalandrules”

Also in Williams’ corner is TV icon Norman Lear, who came to the actor’s defense in a statement published on Tuesday, July, 7. “I’ve seen and attended a ton of awards shows in my time, and no one has ever put his soul and his ass on the line so fully and so truthfully as Jesse Williams did at the BET Awards last week,” Lear told IndieWire. “Wither thou goest, Mr. Williams, I will follow.”

Following his jaw dropping acceptance speech, Williams told People he hoped to let audiences know they aren’t alone. “Words are only as good as the response to those words. But I’d like to think that I give people a sense that they are not alone,” he shared.

At the same time, the lead petitioner, Erin Smith, has recently updated her call to action, writing, “Unfortunately, a necessary escalation is warranted. Please sign the petition to fire Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy AND boycott the entire ABC Network. Don’t forget to unlike all ABC programs/shows on Facebook pages, unfollow all on Twitter and separate from all social media that has anything to do with ABC, their shows, news, etc.”

“This is a blatant slap in the face to the entire human race. Shonda not only praised him, but she condones his actions,” she continues before questioning Williams’ motives. “A true “humanitarian” would never have created this situation to begin with, but at least he could’ve admitted to using his words poorly, apologized and rephrased so all of this could have gone away. I’m shocked that someone who wants equality would spew such divisive rhetoric. Jesse is dividing rather than unifying. Everyone should be encouraging Unity. Double standards should not exist. Apparently, Shonda thinks this is her world and she can do whatever she wants. Jesse’s rant only fuels racism and further divides Americans. All races must unify and take a stand against this.”

What are your thoughts on Williams’ response to petitioners? Sound off in the comment section below.

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