Earlier this week, Justin Timberlake came under fire when he replied, somewhat condescendingly, after being accused of benefiting from black culture. Timberlake had just tweeted his admiration of the acceptance speech that the actor Jesse Williams gave when he won a Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards. That Williams speech called out white institutions for “gentrifying our genius.” When confronted, though, Timberlake tweeted this:
Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation.
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
Last night, the Chicago rapper Vic Mensa was part of the panel on Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show. And as Pitchfork points out, when asked about the Timberlake flap, Mensa had this to say:
I feel as if the issue is not Justin Timberlake having an input or even appreciating this speech. That’s something that most people can resonate with. Our problem here is that Justin Timberlake himself 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 it’s a struggle.
With everything that’s going on, with everybody that’s been killed by police on camera in the past couple of years, there’s no #BlackLivesMatter, there’s no “praying for Baltimore,” there’s no “praying for Flint.” 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…
And here’s the video. (If it’s not showing up in your browser, head over here.)
On Twitter later, Mensa added this:
My statements on @TheNightlyShow were not to bash Justin timberlake. I was just shedding some light on the idea of cultural appropriation
— still alive (@VicMensa) June 30, 2016