Alice Walker Pens Poem in Response to Jesse Williams’ BET Awards Speech

Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, wrote a poem in response to Jesse Williams’ poignant speech from the BET Awards that praised the work of black women, acknowledged their power, and stressed the importance of equal rights for all.

Walker shared her poetic response entitled “Here It Is” on her website with a preface critiquing the advertisements that the audience had to traverse before witnessing Williams’ call-to-action.

“Here is part of the problem right up front: we have to endure a MacDonald’s add before Jesse Williams’ speech,” wrote Walker. “Surely there is a better way to honor our people than by encouraging them to believe such a corporation cares about what they eat, unless it makes money for them. In any case, it interrupted a poem I wanted to write about fear of blackness in white culture.”

The poem reads:

Here it is the beauty that scares you
-so you believe-
to death.
For he is certainly gorgeous
and he is certainly where whiteness
to your disbelief
has not wandered off
to die.
No.  It is there, tawny skin, gray eyes,
a Malcolm-esque  jaw.  His loyal parents
may Goddess bless them
sitting proud and happy and no doubt
at what  they have done.
For he is black too.  And obviously
with a soul
made of everything.
Try to think bigger than you ever have
or had courage enough to do:
that blackness is not where whiteness
wanders off to die: but that it is
like the dark matter
between stars and galaxies in
the Universe
that ultimately
holds it all

Walker closes the poem with an affectionate “three deep bows to a beautiful son.”

Watch Williams’ Humanitarian Award speech from the BET Awards below and listen to our Celebuzz’d podcast discussion about cultural appropriation in YouTube covers with an editor from VIBE here.