Actor Jesse Williams gets real on CNN with Candy Crowley about the dehumanization of black men.
CNN’s Candy Crowley complained about the repetition of the same verbiage after racially charged events that seem to terminate with no effective action. “I always have great hesitation about these conversations. I feel like we have them all the time and they become placebo conversations,” Candy Crowley said. “They do nothing. They move nothing. And then the next instance it comes up, and we do it all again. What changes this kind of dynamic?”
Candy Crowley had two other regular guests on, LZ Granderson and Tara Wall, that normally give antiseptic answers to these types of questions. They gave the expected narrative.
It was bound to be different with actor Jesse Williams. You see, he is not just your pretty boy actor. This is a man of substance. This is a man not afraid to speak truth in whatever domain he finds himself in as he did on HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell where he said,
“People feel tired of the criminalization of the Black body. … People are just feeling fatigued about constantly having to go through this all year, every year since the founding of this nation. This is a tradition in this country when people are able to go ahead, kill Black people because they got sassed, because we are inconvenient. And we become a victim of a fantasy. … This fantasy of what the Black body does and can do has become more important than the reality.”
He said this about the Michael Dunn Trial case earlier this year.
In this interview Jesse Williams necessarily puts the onus on the media. In effect he tells Candy Crowley the media is not telling the story.
“Police have been beating the hell out of Black people for a very, very, very long time before the advent of the video camera,” Jesse Williams said. “And despite the advent of the video camera. There is still an incredible trend of police brutality and killing in the street. And justice is never served.”
If the media were covering appropriately would it be a shock or would the public at large find it possible to deny these realities? Of course not. An informed population would not exhibit as large a racial divide on policing and other issues.
But Jesse Williams was not done. In his way he was admonishing the media at large for a racially biased double standard that is partially responsible for the dehumanization of minorities.
“There is certainly a double standard of Whiteness and a bit of an ownership mentality in this country that rears its ugly head when we get into crime or incidents that happen that involve Brown people. Victims of these shootings are immediately vilified on screen and in the media and the online networks, trying to justify putting these boys on trial for their own murder and they are always found guilty of their own murder. And we don’t feel that that’s what happens when White people shoot up schools or theaters. They are immediately just trying to be explained, get to the bottom of it, and interview people around them. Find out what happened. It feels imbalanced. Because it is imbalanced. There is a disproportionate representation of low income Black folks in media. … All these things create an imbalance.”
Williams then pleads for journalism, a journalism that is fair. He illustrated the reality of the bad context provided today. He asked that the real story be told.
“We need journalism to kick in and start reporting the story from the beginning,” Jesse Williams said. “This is about finding justice for a kid that was shot. An 18-year-old that was shot. Period. And this idea that because he stole a handful of cheap cigars, that were what, five bucks from a convenient store? I lived in the white suburbs of this country for a long time, I know plenty of white kids that steal stuff from the convenient store.
This idea that every time a Black person does something, they automatically become a ‘thug worthy of their own death?’ We don’t own drug crimes. We’re not the only ones that ‘sell and do drugs all the time,’ we’re not the only ones who steal, we’re not the only ones who talk crazy to cops. There’s a complete double standard and a complete different experience that a certain element of this country has the privilege of being treated as human beings. And the rest of us are not being treated like human beings. Period. And that needs to be discussed, that is the story. That is what makes it get frustrating to people.You don’t know five Black men in particular that have not been harassed and felt threatened by police officers.”
CNN must be commended for this segment. Hopefully their producers learned something from the dialogue. Hopefully America learned something from his salient statements.
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