While We’re Talking About Will Smith’s Behavior, Let’s Also Talk About The System That Helped Create It
While we discuss our country’s trek to normalize violence, we need to also look at White supremacist respectability politics that police the behavior of Black bodies and not forget that history was made last night.
Everyone is still talking about last night’s Oscars when Academy Award-winning actor and director Will Smith slapped award-winning stand-up comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director Chris Rock after Rock made a distasteful joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Of course, social media immediately blew up, and people began dishing out their opinions and providing theories about the slap heard around the world. I have heard everything from conspiracy theories that the incident was staged for ratings to being staged to emasculate Black men further.
In my opinion, it is not that deep. But perhaps what we should question as a result of this incident is why Blacks in Hollywood have routinely been expected to grin and bear embarrassment and degradation without expressing any discontent or risk being viewed as angry? Furthermore, why is it permissible for a Black woman’s health condition to be made content for a few cheap laughs at an award show and how will this incident overshadow the hard work of Will Packer, the Black man who produced the award show along with an all-Black team.
While hosting last night’s Oscar’s Awards ceremony, Chris Rock said, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” in reference to Pinkett-Smith’s bald head. Will Smith then emerged from the crowd and served Rock with a fresh open hand slap in response. What might seem to have been an innocent joke was highly personal and hit a cord for Smith. Jada is not rocking a bald head to be on-trend or to appear avant-garde. She currently has short hair due to alopecia. In an interesting twist of fate, Smith won Best Actor for his role in “King Richard” just minutes after the altercation. During his acceptance speech, Smith said,
“In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world…