An internet troll by the really generic name of Erin Smith (which gives me reason to believe that they may in fact just be another anonymous troll) has started a lousy petition to get Jesse Williams fired from Grey’s Anatomy. Smith thinks that Williams’ speech at the 2016 BET Awards — where he addressed police brutality, supporting black women, activism, and cultural appropriation while accepting the Humanitarian Award — was “a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people.” With an unsurprising #AllLivesMatter to round out their rant, Smith is demanding equal repercussions for racism, which honestly puts Williams’ right side up considering that white folks get away with being racist all the time (see: Donald Trump). So far, the petition to ABC has amassed 4,500 signatures, some of which I’m willing to bet have come from different emails that Smith has created.
While I’m unbothered by the feeble attempt to get him kicked off of Grey’s, I am more worried about the lack of basic comprehension that would lead 4,500 people to conclude that what they heard of Williams’ speech was racist in the first place. Even if we pretend that we live in a society where reverse racism actually exists, nothing about Williams’ speech alluded to hatred toward or discrimination against white people. Maybe it’s because he called whiteness an “invention.” Ever heard of a social construct? Maybe it’s reverse racist to say that white people appropriate, absorb, demonize, and profit off of black culture when they just call it capitalism and living life. But still, talking about what someone has done to you is not the stuff of racism. If that was the only thing racial justice activists had to fight for, people of color would be in much better shape.
Upon reaching 5,000 signatures, Smith will deliver the petition to ABC where I’m hopeful the wasted paper will be promptly recycled.