I rarely get into pop culture on the blog, yet here we are. There is so much to think about and all of it is not about the slap. But, yes everyone is talking about Will Smith and not because of his Oscar win for his portrayal of Richard Williams in 'King Richard' but for his very "un-Will Smith like" response to comedian Chris Rock and his joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith. We all saw it. It was literally the slap seen around the world.
It is amazing to read and see the variety of responses, tweets, memes, etc that have been birthed as a result of Will Smith's actions. While my opinion means very little, let me express it anyway. I live in a space where I honor duality. I believe wholeheartedly that two or more truths can exist at the same time.
Truth: Will Smith was wrong for slapping Chris Rock.
Violence should never be the response. We teach our children to walk away and Will should've let it slide.
Truth: Chris Rock is a comedian so no one is off limits or protected from his comedy.
Also true. Maybe he knew of her condition, maybe he didn't. It honestly doesn't matter. He's a comedian.
Truth: Black women are often unprotected and seemingly the butt of the joke for and from Black men.
Yes, being a celebrity doesn't shield you from being the butt of a million jokes.
While I have heard a great disdain for Will's behavior and fully agree that it was poor reflection of who he has presented himself to be. What I saw was human nature executed as an emotional response to being fed up.
Public Opinion: Jada has "embarrassed" Will by sharing her truths.
While this may be true, it is irrelevant in this situation. Had the joke been about entanglements, August Alsina, etc it would have made sense and I would have expected less of a response from either. If Will forgave Jada, at what point are we going to let that go and either forgive or let go of this as a reference point. Literally everything Jada has done since sharing that openly is redirected back to August. If there was never the August Alsina entanglement, would people feel like Will was more justified in his response to "protect/defend" his wife.
This joke was about her bald haircut and her green dress (which was absolutely gorgeous in my opinion), not an entanglement or August Alsina.
Fact: Will was laughing at the joke.
There have been many times that I have laughed at something that inherently hurt another person's feelings including my spouse. I felt bad after laughing and I apologized because I likely didn't realize that it would hurt the person.
You see how that works? Two things that can be true at the same time. That's duality. A joke can be both funny and cruel. A person who has embarrassed their spouse can still be loved and absolutely adored by them. Two things can be true at the same time.
For everyone that is relating this to the August Alsina incident, while the disrespect may seem like it is the same, IT IS NOT! Will came to the Red Table already knowing about Jada and August and opted to respond without violence or anger. He was hurt by her truth but respected it as her truth. August wasn't at the table that day so we will never know if he would've slapped him too. However, Oscar's 2022 was an interaction that took place in real time where he saw his wife visibly upset about a joke that she clearly felt was done in poor taste that Will initially laughed at and he reacted. He is human. He reacted poorly.
We know hair is a sensitive subject for women in general, but especially Black women. Our hair has been policed for centuries and the idea that beauty must conform to a European standard is a bit much. (See the Crown Act. ) For those who may not only be battling with the cultural implications of Black hair, to have to deal with an illness that affects your hair growth is a hard blow to the spirit. Like I said, so much to unpack. I was bald by choice and never felt the need to defend my appearance or choice to shave my head, but I recognize that there are others that feel differently. In short, don't come for our hair. Don't touch it and don't try to govern it. Leave our hair out of the conversation the same way you do non-Black women!
On a whole other note, what blows my mind is the overwhelming amount of people who feel like Will Smith's behavior is a reflection of every Black person's behavior. Since when have rich Black people been the reference point for all Black people. Make it make sense! Only when it is something negative do people feel like Black people are all the same. When a Black person does something wrong then all Black people are wrong. However, when Black people do something amazing it is an individual accomplishment. How is that so?
If this post feels all over the place...it is! I lost a very dear friend this weekend and instead of digging into mortality and grief, today I chose something that was intended to feel lighter. Not sure if I hit the lighter note, but it hurts less to talk about the Oscars than to talk about how bad my heart aches right now. So this is my brain dump about this. My husband and I talked about it and he responded that he would've likely reacted the same way. I pray we never find out. I am all for protecting Black women, especially in spaces where we aren't always welcome. Shout out to Chris Rock for literally taking it on the chin like a champ. Can't say what I would have done in that instance. There have been times where I wanted to fight or cuss, but instead my mouth formed a prayer. It was weird and after the encounter it was clear that I had some sort of out of body experience because the real me would never let somebody disrespect me…right! Naw, the spirit filled me is guided by the spirit and the spirit leads with grace, because the worldly me has always led with fists. Thank God for the spirit.
I mentioned last week I am a cross between Knuck if you buck and Praise is what I do...again, two things can be true at the same time!
I hope this week starts off with you choosing to love yourself and show up for yourself in a way that protects your peace and your space!
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