Jessica Williams and Self-Empowerment

By Matthew D. Gamble

Rutgers welcomed former The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams for a 2-hour stand-up event on October 18, 2016. With a down-to-earth demeanor and sharp sense of humor regarding her life and challenges, Jessica Williams shows herself to be quite the spokesperson for this generation of youth. She takes pride in her humanity, acknowledging some of her awkwardness and masterfully balancing the shift from humorous to serious when discussing a variety of topics.

Opening up on her childhood, Williams happily recalls the time she spent with her hedonistic grandmother. She attributes her offbeat sense of humor to her grandmother and the shows they watched together which was often adult animation like South Park. Other awkward situations she talks about are her mother’s form of discipline, her church’s disastrous Easter and purity ceremonies, and the encounter she had with a hotel driver doubling as a drug dealer.

Williams pursuit of Africana and women’s studies led to her becoming more and more aware of the racism, classism and sexism that is still rampant in today’s society. Being a Black woman she acknowledges the challenges that society has given her and other people of color. She comforts the audience and tells them that they have the right to be angry because minorities live in a country that was never made for them in mind. She calls for the audience to use their knowledge to make a difference and start movements. She also informs the audience of White men know that they should use their privilege to fight for the rights of minorities as well and spread knowledge to their inner circles.

Williams closes her event by giving encouraging words to the audience, letting them know that they can make a change if they push themselves hard enough. Using her own life as an example, she recalls her audition for The Daily Show in which despite her nervousness, she won the audition. While initially uncertain of what direction to take with her spot, Williams successfully crafted her own identity. Using her position to bring light on racial and gender issues afflicting the country in a satirical tone. Combining a unique mix of spunk, honesty, wit and encouragement, Jessica Williams is truly a role model and inspiration.


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