Rapper Vic Mensa has suggested that Justin Timberlake has “benefiting from using black culture” in a discussion about the singer’s recent controversial comments relating to Jesse Williams’ BET Awards speech.
Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams was accepting a humanitarian award at the event when he used his speech to address racism and cultural appropriation. Timberlake tweeted: “@iJesseWilliams tho… #Inspired #BET2016”, to which some followers took offence. One responded: “@jtimberlake @iJesseWilliams Did you like the part when Jesse talked about white people stealing from us? That should resonate with you.”
Timberlake later responded to one critic by writing: “Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation. Bye.” He later apologised and said “I really do feel that we are all one… A human race.”
Speaking during a roundtable discussion on The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore, Mensa said: “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.”
He went on to add: “With everything that’s going on, and everybody that’s been killed by police on camera in the last couple of years, there’s no #BlackLivesMatter; there’s no ‘praying for Baltimore’, there’s no ‘praying for Flint’, you know, because that’s a dangerous subject for him to touch. And we’re not feeling him being down when it’s beneficial to him, and turning a blind eye when it could be dangerous.”
Mensa concluded: “Sit down until you show us you care. Don’t tell us shit unless you show us you care.”
The rapper later took to Twitter to clarify that his comments were not meant to “bash” the singer but that he was “just shedding some light on the idea of cultural appropriation”.
Timberlake has not yet responded to Mensa’s comments.