Why Justin Timberlake Needed To Apologize

Yesterday at the 2016 BET Awards or what some may now be considering the reigniting of the Black Power Movement, Jesse Williams gave one of the most ground breaking award acceptance speeches ever. He broke systemic oppression down. He made it plain what we wanted. And he let the system know we were coming for it, but somehow after it was all said and done, Justin Timberlake ended up in the hot seat.

Justin Timberlake sent out a tweet after Jesse Williams speech saying he was inspired. A twitter user responded asking him if he stop appropriating Black Culture, and Justin responded saying, “The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation.” Check out the tweets below:


It didn’t take long for Black Twitter to essentially attack Justin Timberlake for his words; however, there was a clear divide. Half of the people sending out tweets were defending Justin, and the other half were trying to make people see the error of his words. Eventually Justin Timberlake responded saying he was misunderstood and that we are all one human race. Check out those tweets below:

His apology was touching, I guess, but his words didn’t help his case. Justin’s three apologetic tweets only magnified the sentence that made people upset in the first place: “The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation.”

There are multiple ways to break down that sentence, but his 2nd apologetic tweet messed himself up. ” I was truly inspired by @iJesseWilliams speech because I really do feel that we are all one… A human race.” Wrong! Jesse Williams spent an entire 5 minutes explaining how that one sentence isn’t necessarily true.

Yes, we are definitely one human race. We should treat people based on the contents of their hearts and not their skin color, but that is not the world we live in. This is not a colorblind driven society. Even if we treated everybody as one human race, we still have millions of cultures. Statements like that diminish the fact that we are all different and the importance of respecting each other’s differences. 

Moving forward, there was apart of Jesse’s speech that supports why some of Black Twitter felt offended by Justin Timberlake’s tweet. “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, ghettoizing 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.

Jazmine Sullivan: There’s Injustice for Black Soul Artists 

There was a huge conversation not that long ago comparing Jazmine Sullivan to Adele in which Jazmine noted that there were injustices for Black Soul Artists. Tyrese spent the better half of his time promoting his latest album trying to break down the barriers Black artists face when it comes to airplay. J. Cole released a track called Fire Squad that blew up because of an alleged diss at Justin Timberlake, Macklemore, Eminem, and Iggy Azalea where he implies they extract and benefit off of Black culture. Cole eventually said it wasn’t a diss but better yet an observation. “That part of the verse is an observation, me making an observation of culture right now, what’s happening.” Why is all of this important, because it ties into why Justin Timberlake was wrong.

White soul artists dominate mainstream soul music while borrowing sounds from artists like Brandy. The hip hop artists arise to the top of hip hop charts beating out record breaking artists like J. Cole. They attempt to assimilate, but there is always a line drawn for some. They don’t consistently speak out about oppression. They borrow sounds and beats, but stay quiet when women, men, and kids are killed for the color of their skin. And they make statements like we’re all the same trying to eliminate the need for them to ever have to piss off the people that bring them the most revenue.

This is not a bash Justin Timberlake session. All of this is not being thrown at Justin, but it was important to breakdown a small part of why people were going after him. People sending out rude tweets to him weren’t justified, but the people questioning his response were. It really all boils down to the fact that saying we’re all the same suppresses our oppression. What are your thoughts?

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Bryant Smith

Bryant Smith is the founder and owner of The Top Tea.

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