Happy Monday! Today is Oscar Monday, the day after the Oscars. It probably goes without saying that we all have seen the clip of (now)Academy Award Winner Will Smith slapping Comedian Chris Rock after he made an insensitive joke about his wife Jada Smith. When I got the notification on my phone, I thought it was a mistake or something scripted for the show. I spent the next hour or so online reading the reactions as the news spread like wildfire. Here are some of my thoughts:
- Two wrongs don’t make a right: Jada Smith has been battling alopecia since 2018. Alopecia if you don’t know, is an auto-immune disorder which causes you to lose your hair. She was transparent in a video last year as she revealed that she shaved her head to deal with her hair loss. Chris’s Rock’s joke was insensitive to her condition and she seemed visibly irritated by the comment. Will Smith’s response was not correct. It wasn’t the venue, it wasn’t the time, nor is it ok to ever assault someone because you don’t like that they said.
- Your pain will always overflow: Will and Jada have been very honest and transparent about their marital struggles (some might argue too transparent). Looking at Will Smith’s response and his acceptance speech, it appears he’s really hurting. In that clip of him slapping Chris Rock, I saw a man who is hurting. Hurting from what, I couldn’t say because I only know what they share, but it seemed apparent that whatever struggles he is battling overflowed in that moment.
- Thank the Lord for the Elders (i.e. the GOAT Denzel Washington): Will Smith said that fellow Academy Award Winner Denzel Washington gave him sound advice and was seen comforting both Will and Jada after the incident. When you act a fool in the streets, you do need someone older and wiser to come beside you and offer not just comfort but also wisdom. It was beautiful to see that Will and Jada had someone who could come beside them and offer this.
- His response was not defense; it was toxic: Chris Rock’s joke was triggering for many people who suffer from different disabilities. Will Smith slapping Chris Rock was triggering to many people who have been victims of abuse. People have said that Will was defending his wife, but there is a right way and this was not it. Assaulting someone else puts your wife in more danger, because now this person is within their right to defend themselves and that can be in any way they see fit. Will could have been arrested, but Chris Rock has decided to not press charges. He could be sued. Or Chris Rock could have hit him back. None of these actions defended Jada at all. All it did was to serve Will’s ego and make himself feel better.
- Sometimes we are our own worst enemy: Today should be spent discussing how Will Smith is now in a small group of actors who won an Academy Award. I was happy that he was a shoe-in for the Oscar and that all his hard work over the years was culminated in this award. His night has been forever marred by his actions. I think sometimes we don’t believe that we deserve the success that we have strived for. So, when it comes, it feels so foreign to us we do everything in our power to push it away. We must know that we are worthy of the desires of our heart.
I have been a fan of Will Smith and Jada Smith since I was a child. Fresh Prince was one of my favorite shows, and I have loved Jada since she was on A Different World. As a fan, it’s been painful to see them go through these struggles even though I do applaud them for being so transparent. Marriage is hard. Life is hard. And what we see on the Red Carpet is not what really is. I wish them well. I wish Chris Rock well, it must be embarrassing for him becoming a meme overnight. I pray for healing for everyone involved.
If you find yourself triggered by that you say or experienced. Please be gentle with yourself today and in the coming days. Seek help if you need it. Text 741741 to speak to a specialist at the Crisis Text Line. I’m wishing you all love today.
Thank you for this rich reflection on a truly traumatic episode for the Black community. If truth is stranger than fiction, this certainly qualifies! I can only hope these folks find healing – they are hugely talented and face a lot of pressures. 💝 Thank you again!