Vic Mensa joined The Nightly Show for a panel on the controversy surrounding Justin Timberlake’s BET Awards tweets. The pop star wrote that he was “#inspired” by Jesse Williams’ powerful speech in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, causing one follower to tell the singer to “stop appropriating our music and culture.”
Timberlake hastily tweeted back, “Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation. Bye.” Wilmore opened up the panel by explaining that some people criticized the singer for writing, “We are the same,” indicating an #AllLivesMatter response to a speech specifically aimed at the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Mensa joined host Larry Wilmore and Nightly Show correspondents Robin Thede and Rory Albanese for the discussion.
Mensa launched the discussion by calling out Timberlake’s own history of appropriating black culture for his gain throughout his successful career as an R&B singer. “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,” Mensa offered.
“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,'” he added. “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.”
The panelists continued the discussion by analyzing the times when appropriation is okay, before concluding that there are no times when it is a positive or fruitful part of culture. The day after the show aired, Mensa expanded on his comments via Twitter. “My statements on @TheNightlyShow were not to bash Justin Timberlake,” he wrote. “I was just shedding some light on the idea of cultural appropriation.”