Understanding the Will Smith “Oscar-worthy” Slap

(Women, please read the question at the very end)

As a black man living in this country I know there is a system that exists that is not built for me. It’s built on top of me, it’s built by me and I am the specimen in the petri dish of this system. My bad moments and erroneous decisions are widely broadcast as the example of all melanated people while my most glorious moments receive shallow fleeting praise as outliers of my races accomplishments.

I watched the clip of the “slap” about a dozen times listening to people say it was a punch. First…no, it wasn’t a punch. It wasn’t “Oscar-worthy” either, because it was real.

Will Smith and his family endured and continue to endure a very public entanglement that they now joke about. They allow enormous freedom with raising very engaging public children. I can’t fathom what other trials they endure and come out of as a very public family. There’s not much that weakens them as a family and I admire that facade that they must maintain.

WHY:

I believe when Will saw the hurt or bothered look on Jada’s face, Will not “Hitch” or the “Fresh Prince”, or “Agent J” but West Philly, husband of 25 years Will, in a visceral moment, reacted. We can talk and joke about our family and our mistakes but you, Chris Rock, will NOT make a mockery of my wife’s scalp condition. You can do or say what you want about your divorce but you will NOT hurt my wife’s feelings. That…I can’t allow.

I have Will’s book and watched the episode where he and his family talked about the abuse in his family, how he felt helpless as a child. I know that feeling. You grow to be a hyper protective husband and father of everyone in your care. I’m not a psychologist but walking up to that stage, after years decades of being Mr. July and ALWAYS on point professionally, you were compelled to do something to protect your most precious person this time…even if it meant to slap the shit out of another man, 5 years your senior, on national television, at the Oscars.

THE LESSON:

Will Smith and both Chris Rock exhibited restraint. Even in this very public debacle, they both kept it together. Will kept it together enough not to punch Chris Rock on live tv and Chris Rock, Crown Heights bred comedian kept it together not to respond by swinging on Will. You can even see Chris Rock’s body language in his response…he immediately kept it professional. Will, this was not his best night but I understand…his statements immediately after the slap was bad. I mean when has Will ever not held it together, even when some dude tried to kiss him in the mouth on live tv. Again…the assailant received what, a slap. I’m sorry it happened but I’m still of fan of the Oscar/Grammy winning black man from the neighborhood of West Philly. I’ve watched his trajectory of the years and aligned myself to his drive.

THIS PART:

Will and Chris have the resources to endure this altercation. Their credentials may allow a discussion or a “settlement” out of court that may be jokes and hugs…maybe. I don’t know, but what I do know is this…

the system will not allow you, black man, to make that mistake.

Everyday Black folks don’t have the luxury of being in the moment like that without repercussions – we’d be dead or in jail. Will should have addressed Chris after the show. To yell what he said on LIVE tv was inexcusable/unacceptable but this is why…

So this is the second time Chris came for Jada on the Oscars stage…that’s why Will states, “…keep my wife’s name out your f@#king mouth.” To even go further…give me some latitude. Jada boycotted because Will wasn’t nominated for “Concussion” a movie exposing the NFL. The NFL did not want that movie to receive acclaim or notoriety…but maybe it’s a stretch. Like it or not, this is our system…but I digress.

Again, I’m a fan and will continue to be a fan. You, young black man, do not have the luxury of being out of character, you will lose everything in that moment. I just wish it didn’t happen like this but I also think of the alternative.

One question for all you wives that disapprove of Will’s actions at the Oscars…

If a comedian clowned you about your illness and your husband laughed along with everybody else, even after he saw how much it bothered/hurt your feelings…how would you feel about your husband?

I asked a close friend and she said, “Probably not so good. Hurt. Embarrassed. Disrespected. Would definitely question our relationship. It looked like Will reacted to Jada’s reaction.

Last thing…this America does not protect our black women. We just flogged the overqualified Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson publically. So I’m kinda like, when do we, black men, protect our women, when are we allowed to protect our wives. Yeah this may be different but like I started out saying, this is the system that doesn‘t exist for us, we have to exist in it. I’m sorry it happened that one of my idols was justifiably out of character. I will say last night…Will and Jada had some good love at home. :o)

So…this 51 year old North Philadelphia black man understands.

MPM

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Life is not a video game

I was talking to my friend Tanya about the carjackings in Philadelphia. We were discussing a scenario where an Uber driver returned fire defending himself and I zeroed in on our young people making reckless life decisions.

Our young people don’t respect life.

When I was young people got beat up, robbed, stabbed and sometimes shot, now…people get shot period. I’m not saying we didn’t have shootings or even that the shootings were justified. I’m just saying, shooting people wasn’t the ‘go to’ reaction. Now…everyone wants to be 50 cent, shoot someone, go to jail, come out, be a multi-millionaire…again video game reality.

There’s no coming back from that decision. If you shot someone, it’s likely going to be recorded somewhere and you’re going to jail, period.

Key Statistics:

***https://www.prisonpolicy.org/research/race_and_ethnicity/

In the 80’s you had the same mothers screaming that same delusional “he was a good kid” rhetoric. Ain’t nobody hearing that bullshit. Let me tell you now, if you shoot someone it’s your decision.

Like in the movie, “The Harder They Fall” Cherokee Bill shoots Mr. Picket in the back, Mr. Picket is standing there wheezing shocked that he’s shot, dropping his gun. Cherokee Bill says, “Why you got that look on your face?” Mr. Pickett struggles with the reality that he’s going to die. Looking Picket in the dead in the eye Bill says, “No. No, no, no, brother, no, no, no. Stop that. Don’t do that. You had a choice. You always got a choice.” Then in the Cherokee language he says, “Being scared will only give you bad karma in the afterlife.” Then he puts another slug in his chest.

That’s some cold shit…but that’s real. Like those people attempting carjackinging…you had a choice, now you sitting up in the damn hospital and when you heal, a nice cold cell is waiting for you. This is your life now dumb ass no points, no restart the game… jail.

I don’t want to hear the excuses from anyone. …he had a hard life, his father wasn’t around, his mom was on drugs, he didn’t have a good home environment. That’s bullshit…he had a choice.

Men know, you have a choice.

Don’t make excuses about your feelings, that’s some female shit…you’re a man. You made the choice, deal with it.

While I attended Peirce Jr. College, I lived in my grandmothers 1 bedroom apartment…on the couch for 2 years. I put my clothes on two shelves in the house and about a foot of closet space on the rod. I worked 3 jobs; the school night computer operator, Jeans West and the Cookie Co both on Chestnut St. I chased dudes away from my addicted mother the night before graduation. My father was killed by cops when I was 4 but still watched successful people. I made good choices, I’m working at the White House now…it wasn’t easy and I ain’t perfect but I didn’t treat my life like a damn video game.

If life was a video game, you would only get one life and you can’t start over.

MPM

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #10 of 10

As an adult, I can remember a few bad decisions from my childhood that makes me laugh. One particular stupid thing I did was at the worse possible time. I remember the people that were there and how it later caused me a significant amount of embarrassment and shame. It almost ended up with me getting a good woopin’.

I think back to when I was 11 years old and my grandparents were out of town for a couple days, my uncle was in charge. I thought that if I did something and I could, quite possibly, not get the strap.

I was at a friends birthday party and, for some reason, I felt like I could act a fool. There were about 15 teenagers and parents at this party. I was one of two black kids there, my older cousin was the other black child there.

I was acting a fool…ruining the surprise about the trick candles, plucking people, running my mouth, acting like a monkey in the worse possible way.

This tip is not about acting like a monkey in front of white people or about my uncle’s explanation of how I misrepresented the family or even about my cousin snitching on me. This tip is about the fact that no one has proof of what happened. There may be a still picture or some parent reminiscing about the out of control black kid at Brian’s party. They don’t remember my name and the whole event is possibly forgotten.

That was decades ago, social media didn’t exist back then. YOU don’t have that luxury now, everyone has a camera or is recording you on video. You are being recorded even when you think you are not. My last tip, #10, is about social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TicTok didn’t exist back then so I don’t have my most embarrassing moment on some platform somewhere. My event wasn’t even the only thing I had done as a child and it wasn’t a moment, it was the damn whole party! My point is…regardless of what you do, it will be a bad thing and it will be your worse moment replayed over and over again.

I changed my last tip because of Sha’carri Richardson. She’s 21 years old and she’s making some mistakes. We all make mistakes but luckily, not on the world stage. Hopefully, she will look back at this, years later, as an immature time in her life. People will replay her comments, her tweets, etc. We were all immature once, shoot we still have our moments now but fortunately it wasn’t replayed on the world stage. My advice is be careful of how you allow people and these social media platforms in your life for the good or the bad.

MPM

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #9 of 10

First…

When you mentor children, you must know that they don’t have to tell you anything. Appreciate that they trust you enough to talk to you.  In a world that doesn’t allow our children to be innocent. Our society has become so critical and accepting of everything, how do we protect and nurture the logic of a brand new individual? There’s so much criticism immediately out of the womb…shoot it happens when the child is in the womb. Who’s the father, are you married, do you want a boy or a girl, you’re too young to have a child, you’re too old to have a child. STOP

Our children are flooded with the pressure of success and money and they have no idea how to attain either. Society is shaping their priorities before they allowed to even walk…so when they trust you enough to share with you…shut up and listen.

Don’t tell them anything…guide, advise, support, tune and adjust their perception.

You are possibly through half of your life’s decisions, they still have a million decisions to make, the best you can do is help them through these decisions.

When I’m entrusted with the thoughts of a mentee, I probe to understand how they rationalize. I try to find out, “How did they get to this answer?” When you listen to their logic, it helps you understand their process. Sometime their process is flawed, sometimes it’s just limited in scope and understanding. That’s where you come in…help them arrive at a resolution that is positive, balanced and forward moving.

For example, I mentor a young boy named, Marcus, almost 10 years old. We’ve only talked a few times but he’s a smart kid, very self aware. He said he wants to be a; Professional Gamer, Video Editor, Actor or Olympian. I said, “Well you can be all those things. You could actually work and earn a living doing the gaming and editing for a company while acting on the side. You can also improve your skills as a swimmer. To be an Olympian you have to be exceptional so understand if you’re really good then keep at it. If you’re always coming in last…give it some thought. I’m not telling you it’s impossible…just keep all your options open. You could be gaming online and find out there’s a director that likes the same game as you. You tell him you’re acting, talk to him about it, send him your acting portfolio and headshots and make it happen. Also with tech you have to always be looking at what’s the hottest game or technology to stay abreast of the newest trends. My point is engage in anything that might be fun to you and you might actually be able to find a way to make a living off of it.”

I didn’t tell Marcus what to do…he just shared with me. If you tell them what to do all the time, they never get to mature their own rationale and thinking processes and when that happens they start to just believe and follow whatever is on instagram, twitter or any other platform. Then they become part of the masses that are criticizing and adversarial. They default to the comfort of being ambiguous because it’s too intimidating to actually have an opinion that’s not accepted by everyone.

My last point…children are being vulnerable and asking for help, you should really listen and aid them on their journey even if it’s beyond your own horizon.

Oh wait…the tip this month is to be his coach not his friend.

MPM

Ps. Marcus…if you’re reading this, you could also start your own company gaming or video editing.

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