Friday 2 December 2016

'We are the same' - Justin Timberlake faces backlash over BET Awards tweet

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 27/06/2016 | 11:33

Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake
Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards
Houston Super Bowl, 2004
Actor Jesse Williams attends the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Justin Timberlake found himself in hot water last night after tweeting about the BET Awards.

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The SexyBack singer first took to Twitter to compliment Grey's Anatomy star Jesse Williams on his moving and confrontational speech about police brutality and racism, writing that he was “inspired”.

Twitter users quickly fired back accusing the pop star of hypocrisy and criticising him for appropriating black music yet remaining quiet on black people’s rights.

“Inspired to do what? Continue to emulate black culture through your music while ignoring issues affecting black people?” one user wrote.

Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards
Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards

Another mentioned his infamous SuperBowl performance with Janet Jackson in 2004, during which he tore off part of her costume and exposed her breast to 89m viewers.

“So does this mean you’re going to stop appropriating our music and culture? And apologise to Janet too,” he wrote.

In response, the former *NSYNC singer wrote: “Oh you sweet soul. The more you realise that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation. Bye.”

His dismissive tweet prompted a backlash from Twitter users who felt his claim that “we are the same” missed the point of Williams’ speech, which described the lack of equality in America.

Houston Super Bowl, 2004
Houston Super Bowl, 2004

Timberlake went on to write: “I feel misunderstood. I responded to a specific tweet that wasn’t meant to be a general response. I shouldn’t have responded anyway.

“I forget this forum sometimes… I was truly inspired by Jesse Williams speech because I really do feel that we are all one… A human race.

“I apologise to anyone that felt I was out of turn. I have nothing but LOVE FOR YOU AND ALL OF US.”

During the BET awards, Jesse Williams collected the Humanitarian Award, condemning cultural appropriation in his speech.

“We’ve been floating this county on credit for centuries, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us,” he said.

“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 creation, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius, then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though, just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

Actor Jesse Williams attends the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Actor Jesse Williams attends the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

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