The BET Awards was not only a celebration of artists’ achievements; this year, some of those artists used their stage time as a platform to call out the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The tone was set by host Taraji P. Henson after she thanked Lizzo for opening the show with her single “About Damn Time” and for donating $500,000 (which Live Nation will match) of her upcoming tour’s proceeds to Planned Parenthood. “You are damn right: It’s about damn time we step into our power,” declared Henson. “It is about time we talk about the fact that guns have more rights than a woman. It’s a sad day in America. … A weapon that can take lives has more power than a woman who can give life, if she chooses to.”
Actress and singer Janelle Monáe kept the same energy when it was her turn to present “Best Female R&B/Pop Artist.”
“These artists making art on our own terms, owning our truth and expressing ourselves freely and unapologetically in a world that tries to control, and police our bodies, mind-body, our decisions, my decision.” She then said, “F— you, Supreme Court” and held up her middle finger. The “f— you” was censored but the middle-finger gesture was seen which landed the “Pynk” songstress a room full of applause.
As Jazmine Sullivan collected her trophy from Monáe she directed her speech to the men in the audience, “As always, I do this for the women — for my sisters, especially. It’s a hard time right now for us. I want to speak directly to the men: We need you all. We need y’all to stand up. Stand up for us. Stand up with us. If you have ever benefited from a woman making one of the toughest decisions of her life, to terminate a pregnancy, you need to be standing with us. This is not just a woman’s issue. This is everybody’s issue. We need your support more than ever.”
“Best New Artist” winner Latto mentioned tearfully in her speech about “a man policing my body” as well.