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The Best Jesse Williams Quotes on Politics and Race in America

Jesse Williams is the definition of the expression: “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”.

On the surface, he’s the famous face of Grey’s Anatomy – a borderline soap opera taking place in a Seattle hospital. His quotes, however, highlight the mind of a serious activist obscured by the handsome face.

His beliefs and work on social justice issues can be seen in his many tweets, his work with the Advancement Project and the Black Lives Matter documentary he recently produced.

This Sunday, upon receiving the Humanitarian Award at the 16th Annual BET Awards, he delivered a powerful acceptance speech that is now setting the social media world on fire.

In addition to that acceptance speech, we’ve compiled some of his most memorable quotes on politics, race, America and the Black Lives Matter movement, to help you stay woke.

The Best Jesse Williams Quotes on Politics and Race in America

From the BET Speech:

On Parents:

I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, and that they make sure I learn what the schools were afraid to teach us. – Jesse Williams

On the real Hero’s:

Now, this award – this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country – the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. – Jesse Williams

On History:

It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize. – Jesse Williams


On policing by race:

Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours. – Jesse Williams

On Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and others:

Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday so I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better than it is to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that toSandra Bland. Tell that to Dorian Hunt. – Jesse Williams

On what can be done:

Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this. Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies. – Jesse Williams

On the contributions of blacks:

There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us. But she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so… free. – Jesse Williams

On freedom:

Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. – Jesse Williams

On criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement:

The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down. – Jesse Williams

On the difficult history of Blacks in America:

We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and 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 thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. – Jesse Williams


On Black Women

Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you. – Jesse Williams

On The History of Whiteness:

On Martin Luther King as part of #reclaimmlk:

On how MLK connects to the BLM:

On the double standard of “resisting unlawful arrest”:

On Racism:

On equal rights:

On the Baltimore Riots:

On Blackness:

On Policing in America:

On racist Halloween costumes:

On Marriage:

It was very important to me to be with a woman who is better than me at some things. You want someone who brings new, interesting things into your life. – Jesse Williams

On Ebola:

On Sandra Bland:

On Diversity:

We often grow up being told that we can do this or that, but if you don’t see anybody that looks like you doing it, you don’t believe you can do it. But I had great teachers, and I wanted to be a great teacher. – Jesse Williams


On Cultural Appropriation:

On Being Bi-racial in Hollywood:

I’m kind of in a middle space, being marketed as a biracial actor. Roles are written either stereotypically black, or they’re written ‘normal,’ which is just code for white. – Jesse Williams

On Taking Credit:

I like to take credit for the work that I have done. – Jesse Williams

On Comedians:

I’m always trying to find the next comedian that just gives me something a little funny to combine with all of the depressing news that I’m processing. – Jesse Williams

Written by Quotezine Team

Michelle Quinteros is a pop culture and lifestyle writer with a fancy degree from McMaster University. When she’s not writing for Quotezine, she can be found excessively quoting The Simpsons or binge watching Netflix.

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