Aggrieved "Grey's Anatomy" fan starts petition to have Jesse Williams axed for "spewing racist, hate speech" at BET Awards

It's unclear whether the fan is actually white — but her white privilege is plain as day

By Scott Eric Kaufman
July 5, 2016 5:16PM (UTC)
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Jesse Williams accepts the humanitarian award at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 26, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) (Matt Sayles/invision/ap)

The response to Jesse Williams' moving anti-racist speech at the BET Awards was almost universally positive -- but as is often the case when white people feel slighted, there has been some negative reaction, this time coming in the form of a petition to have him fired from "Grey's Anatomy" for making it.

"Jesse Williams spewed a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people at the BET awards," someone named "Erin Smith" wrote in a petition.


"If this was a white person making the same speech about an African American," she continued, "they would have been fired and globally chastised, as they should be, but there has been no consequences to Williams' actions." It's not just that no one is looking out for poor, betrodden white folk -- it's the double standard that's agonizing Smith.

"Why was Burke's character fired from Grey's Anatomy after his inappropriate homophobic slur, but nothing for Jesse Williams?" she asked. "Why the one-way street? Why the support for a hater? Why the hypocrisy?"

And if you're wondering whether she went there -- she did indeed, tagging her petition "#AllLivesMatter" and "#EqualConsequences4RacistBehavior."


Smith was annoyed that many commenters assumed that because she wielded her white privilege like a cleaver in the petition, she was white. She issued a "special note to all the people making assumptions: Who said I was white? Who said I'm a Trump supporter? This is not about politics. This is about equal consequences for racist behavior."

Shonda Rhimes -- the show's creator and one of, if not the, single most powerful showrunner on television this side of Dick Wolf -- replied to the petition on Twitter:

Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at

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Bet Awards Grey's Anatomy Jesse Williams Racism Shonda Rhimes Twitter