There Might Be More To Will Smith's Slap Than Meets The Eye

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Via Pixabay
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
April 14, 2022

We all gasped when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars after Rock made an insensitive joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. But before we argue about who was justified, we must remember some important Black history.

During enslavement, enslavers would rape or threaten to sell enslaved Black women in attempts to control their husbands or family members, who either watched helplessly – or resisted and were severely punished or killed.

The “strong Black family” survived enslavement – but so did intense trauma, white disrespect of Black women, and white emasculation of Black men, for generations.

Did some of that ancestral memory rise up in Smith when he stood up to defend his woman?

This was one of the first times we’ve seen a Black man stand up for a Black woman so publicly, and while Pinkett Smith can hold her own, she shouldn’t have to. 

Black women are often the butt of jokes in white-centered spaces – jokes rooted in racism, sexism, and toxic European beauty ideals.

Smith received a 10-year ban from the Oscars – though white actors, directors, and producers accused or convicted of extreme sexual violence are still welcomed.

Smith DEFINITELY could have addressed the issue differently, but given our history, we understand. However we choose to, we must always stand up for Black women!

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