Justin Timberlake came under fire from critics on Twitter for praising Jesse William’s moving speech at the BET Awards on June 26. 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.”