Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s show-opening performance and the emotional Prince tributes weren’t the only moments from the BET Awards making headlines Sunday night: Justin Timberlake found himself in a Twitter dispute.
Timberlake tweeted that he was “#inspired” by Jesse Williams’ humanitarian award acceptance speech. A barrage of Twitter followers, specifically one named Ernest Owens, jumped on the tweet, telling Timberlake to “stop appropriating our music and culture” and apologize to Janet Jackson after leaving her to weather the post-Nipplegate fallout.
Timberlake, taken aback by the tweet, hastily tweeted back, “Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation. Bye.” The condescending nature of Timberlake’s response, as well as the overall belief that the singer didn’t fully grasp the crux of Williams’ speech, resulted in even more backlash.
Two hours later, Timberlake returned to Twitter to apologize. “I feel misunderstood. I responded to a specific tweet that wasn’t meant to be a general response. I shouldn’t have responded anyway …,” he wrote.
“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.”
Watch Williams’ speech below: