Justin Timberlake managed to offend lots of people on Sunday night when he tweeted about the 2016 BET Awards. The “Can’t Stop the Feeling” singer was moved by actor Jesse Williams’ Humanitarian Award acceptance speech and took to Twitter to post his thoughts.
“@iJesseWilliams tho… #Inspired #BET2016,” the GRAMMY winner wrote.
His tweet prompted one follower to write, “So does this mean you’re going to stop appropriating our music and culture? And apologize to Janet too. #BETAwards.”
The note referenced Timberlake’s headline-making 2004 Super Bowl performance in which he accidentally flashed Janet Jackson’s breast on stage, leading to major backlash and broadcasting restrictions.
Timberlake quoted the tweet, replying, “Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation. Bye.”
His words seemed to anger many followers, who called out Timberlake for not using his platform to speak out for black rights and for the damage he caused to Jackson’s career more than a decade ago.
Though he did not specifically respond to any following comments, the singer went on to write, “I feel misunderstood. 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 apologize to anyone that felt I was out of turn. I have nothing but LOVE FOR YOU AND ALL OF US. – JT.”
In his speech, Williams also condemned cultural appropriation, saying, “We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, and we're done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us. Burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil. Black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius, then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though, just because we're magic doesn’t mean we're not real."