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Justin Timberlake faces backlash for BET Awards comment

Published 27/06/2016

Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake received backlash for writing he was "inspired" by Jesse Williams' speech.

Justin Timberlake came under fire from critics on Twitter for praising Jesse Williams' moving speech at the BET Awards on Sunday night (26Jun16).

The Grey's Anatomy actor and activist gave a powerful, impassioned speech about the Black Lives Matter movement and racial equality as he picked up the Humanitarian Award at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards in Los Angeles.

Many praised Jesse for his words online, including Justin Timberlake, who wrote, "@iJesseWilliams tho (though)...#Inspired #BET2016," and promptly became a target for critics, who accused him of hypocrisy.

A number of users on Twitter slammed him for remaining largely quiet on Black Lives Matter issues while appropriating black culture - a subject Jesse raised in his speech. They also brought up the infamous Super Bowl moment when he flashed Janet Jackson's breast during their duet at the halftime show in 2004.

One person, using the name Ernest Owens, wrote, "So does this mean you're going to stop appropriating our music and culture? And apologise to Janet too. #BETAwards," and Justin replied, "Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realise that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation... Bye."

His response angered critics, and Justin returned to Twitter just over an hour later to apologise in a series of tweets.

"I feel misunderstood," he wrote. "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 @iJesseWilliams 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. --JT."

Jesse received a standing ovation for his moving speech, which was considered to be one of the highlights of the show. Regarding cultural appropriation, he told the audience, "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 creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius, then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit."

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