Jesse Williams's speech at the 2016 Bet Awards (26 June) won him a standing ovation and moved some fans to tears but it looks like not everyone agreed with the civil-rights' activist's views. A Change.org petition, accusing the 34-year-old actor of spewing "racist" rhetoric against white people and inciting hatred against law enforcement, seeks to get him fired from his role as Dr Jackson Avery in Grey's Anatomy.
Williams, 34, was honoured with the Humanitarian award for his civil-rights' activism. He dedicated his accolade to black women, teachers, students, lawyers and families who are still oppressed across the country while referencing recent victims of police brutality.
During his five minutes on stage he added that black people's ideas were being stolen and repackaged by white people. "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, ghettoising 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," he told the star-studded crowd.
The petition demands that the ABC network, which airs Grey's Anatomy, must make a stand against his remarks and used hashtags like #AllLivesMatter and #EqualConsequences4RacistBehavior.
"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," it reads.
"There's been no companies making a stand against his racist remarks and no swift action condemning [of] 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"
Williams has yet to comment on the appeal, which l has attracted more than 2000 signatures in four days. Many of his supporters claim that they don't believe the actor's speech was racist, in any direction.