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Jesse Williams' name has been in the news a lot recently, and in case you've been without cell service at the beach busy with work, here's the TL;DR version. Williams gave an impassioned speech after receiving the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards last month, and now there's a petition to get him off Grey's Anatomy. Oh, and there's *another* petition collecting signatures in support of Williams. And now Shonda Rhimes is jumping into the fray.
In case you missed the moment that spawned the controversy, Williams' moving speech touched on racial inequality, police brutality, and the power of black women. Samuel L. Jackson described (opens in new tab) Williams' speech as "the closet thing I've heard to a 1960s activist." Here's just a small portion of Williams' powerful speech:
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. All right? It's kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.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.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 every day. So what's gonna happen is we're going to have equal rights and justice in our own country, or we will restructure their function in ours.
One petition (opens in new tab) calls for the Grey's Anatomy star to be fired over the June 26 speech in which he criticized police in America, saying: "We know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day." The petition has over 5,000 signatures.
Another petition (opens in new tab), with nearly 19,500 signatures, was filed in response and supports Williams, calling him "a brave leader."
Grey's Anatomy creator and producer Shonda Rhimes has given her own thoughts on Twitter (opens in new tab), writing "Um, people? Boo don't need a petition."
Um, people? Boo don't need a petition. #shondalandrulesJuly 5, 2016
Williams has played Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC drama for seven seasons.
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