vic mensa schools justin timberlake on cultural appropriation
‘Our problem here is that Justin Timberlake himself, you know, is definitely benefiting from using black culture.’
This past weekend, actor, activist, and executive producer of documentary Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement Jesse Williams delivered an electrifying speech at the BET Awards. Williams' address included the names of police brutality victims, sharp articulation of what it means to be a black entertainer, and some truly beautiful prose. Justin Timberlake then took to Twitter to say that, like many others, Williams' words left him feeling "#inspired." However, fellow Twitter users felt this was the most solidarity towards the black community that Timberlake has ever expressed in a public forum. "Did you like the part when Jesse talked about white people stealing from us? That should resonate with you," one tweeted at the R&B singer. Timberlake has been under fire for his condescending and uninformed Twitter retort:
Rapper Vic Mensa added his thoughts to the conversation yesterday on The Nightly Show, arguing that Timberlake himself has built his career at least partially through the appropriation of black culture. "Our problem here is that Justin Timberlake himself, you know, is definitely benefiting from using black culture for his sound, his dance moves, his dancers, and blowing up off of it. But if you roll down Justin Timberlake's Twitter for the past two years, which I just did, you see nothing that supports black people when it's more difficult, when there's a struggle."
Mensa followed up these Nightly Show comments on Twitter, stating, "My statements on @TheNightlyShow were not to bash Justin Timberlake. I was just shedding some light on the idea of cultural appropriation."
It appears that Timberlake has indeed learned a lesson about being an ally, and followed up: "I apologize to anyone that felt I was out of turn. I have nothing but LOVE FOR YOU AND ALL OF US." Though the singer still sounds a little like an #AllLivesMatter advocate, hopefully Mensa and Williams's words resonated.
You can re-watch Williams' amazing speech here.
Text Annie Armstrong
Photography Eric Chakeen