Will Someone, Please, Think of the White People?
The online discourse of the Will Smith slap heard 'round the world has been interesting to read.
I’ve seen people condemn Will for being violent. Black man being labeled violent, check.
I’ve seen people say Jada manipulated Will into slapping Chris. Black woman being held responsible for someone else’s actions, check.
People have also linked his action to domestic violence, stereotypes of Black men, poor role models for Black boys and just about any other negative thing you can think of. Stereotypes of Black folks and absent father motif, check and check.
I almost got Bingo on my “Things Not Grounded In Reality" Bingo card.
These are the takes I’ve seen have seen from Un-Black people commenting from their viewpoint. While everyone witnessed the event and are entitled to their opinion, the core of this is Black. This is two Black men and one Black woman. So I respect that for what it is and go read some Black POVs.
Those have been the most eyebrow curling for me. How is it that in 2022, we are still centering how White people perceived the situation?
Some hot takes:
👉🏾 Will wouldn’t have done it to a White comedian. I haven’t seen White comedians continuously joke on a Black woman’s appearance. Most of them in recent history know not to joke on the physical appearance of Black people, in general.
👉🏾 Will wouldn’t have slapped a larger Black comedian. Why not? When someone hurts your family it doesn’t matter how big or small that person is. Will Smith has stood up to institutions larger than him. I don’t think anyone’s physical stature would be a problem.
👉🏾 Will didn’t have that same energy for August. I know the generation of 'the side chick isn’t the problem’ ain’t commenting. Furthermore, how is Jada having an ‘entanglement’ the same thing? Don’t think about it too hard, it’s not.
👉🏾 Will set Black people ‘back’. Let’s be honest about what sets Black people back.
- White police officers killing us in the street with no accountability.
- The Supreme Court rolling back preclearance in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
- Candace Owens, Diamond and Silk, and Clarence Thomas.
- Wells Fargo denying mortgage refinancing of over half of Black applicants during the refinancing boom.
- Black actors getting awards for Magical Negro roles, Mammy roles, Black Buck roles, and tragic mulatto roles.
Those are things that set Black people back. Will Smith slapping Chris Rock over a sensitive issue about his wife is not. Especially not in the eyes of the White people who would believe anything negative about Black people for any reason. But those are the same White People that Black folks have been groomed to be 'tame’ around lest they decide to find another reason to deny us basic access to life.
There’s absolutely nothing Black people can do to set us forward in those minds.
When Barack Obama became President his accomplishment wasn’t credited to being Black. No, he suddenly became half-White. In a recent example, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s remote connection to Paul Ryan through marriage became somehow relevant. But even when there is no proximity to Whiteness that can be given credit for Black Excellence there is always Affirmative Action. When this is the standard that’s set, you’re supposed to abandon the standard. Not worry if you can shuck and jive to it.
There’s no amount of respectability that’s setting us forward. We’ve danced the dance. Jigged the jig. Asked nicely and went through the proper channels to get equal rights and we are still under paid, dying in this pandemic and have less quality health care, justice and rights 🤷🏾♀️. Let’s stop pretending like #OscarsSoWhite hasn’t trended for the past few years and that more Black actors or Black people would be included if only we could appeal and be sensible.
What we’re actually talking around is how defendable a Black woman is. What is her value and why would anyone ever want to defend her?
A White woman, Carolyn Bryant, admitted to falsely accusing Emmett Till of whistling at her which got him murdered by White men. White people at the time saw no issue with violence when protecting a White woman’s perceived innocence and purity. That’s not changed even today. Protecting White women is so embedded in the fabric of the United States that mildly inconveniencing a White woman can result in a police call. For some reason we don’t call that out for the true terrorism that is.
To defend a Black woman flies so far in the face of normal that people have convinced themselves that in 2 seconds Jada used her facial expression to weaponize Will to make him unveil his true Super Saiyan Violent-Black-Male mode to assault Chris Rock. I know we couldn’t see if but if you squint, Will was wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans and a pair of un-creased Timberlands under his suit.
We are so used to vilifying Black women that we didn’t consider she had a normal reaction to being joked on in front of the planet.
We are so used to Black women putting everyone else over ourselves that we’re offended that Jada didn’t think about how the world would vilify her husband for an action she didn’t know he was about to do.
We expect every Black woman to be Diamond Reynolds and able to display an inhuman amount of restraint in all situations. From being mocked on global television to having your significant other murdered in front of you and your child while soothing his murderer.
Its been a few days and the 'Good Hair' producer hasn’t said much of anything about the incident. Perhaps for good reason. Going forward, let’s change the narrative. Center why everyone thinks it’s open season to to have Black women as the butt of every joke. Let’s center Black women needing no reason other than existing as humans on this planet to be worthy of protection and love.