(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.
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.
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.
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.
You welcome to comment below.