The petition calls Williams' acceptance speech at last month's BET Awards "racist, hate speech" against "law enforcement and white people".
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ showrunner Shonda Rhimes has laughed off a petition in the wake of Jesse Williams’ speech at the BET Awards that called for his character, Dr. Jackson Avery, to be removed from the show.
Last Sunday (June 26th), 34 year old Williams won BET’s Humanitarian Award and delivered a speech that sent the internet abuzz with its message about injustice, police brutality and cultural appropriation.
The speech went viral, with 3 million watching on a live Facebook stream and celebrities such as Justin Timberlake writing in praise of it soon afterwards. However, one Change.org user, Erin Smith, set up a petition calling Williams’ message “hate speech” against “law enforcement and white people” and called for him to be fired from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.
Jesse Williams gave the speech accepted his BET Humanitarian Award in June
A week later, the show’s long-standing creator Rhimes, 46, responded: “Um, people? Boo don't need a petition,” adding the hashtag “#shondalandrules.”
Williams himself also responded to the petition, saying: “Do not promote empty people & their tantrums. Pure clickbait to gain followers, attention & money, for themselves, not you. Never you.”
Um, people? Boo don't need a petition. #shondalandrules— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) July 5, 2016
The petition, which now gained over 5,000 signatures, reads: “Jesse Williams spewed a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people at the BET Awards. If this was a white person making the same speech about an African American, they would have been fired and globally chastised, as they should be, but there has been no consequences to Williams' actions. There's been no companies making a stand against his racist remarks and no swift action condemning his negative attitude.”
It continued, citing double standards in the case of actor Isaiah Washington getting fired in 2007 for making a homophobic comment about co-star T.R. Knight: “Why was Burke's character fired from ‘Grey's Anatomy’ after his inappropriate homophobic slur, but nothing for Jesse Williams?”