Black Americans Must Do Better

Unless you live out in the woods with no television or internet access, you have likely heard about Academy Award winner Will Smith walking onstage to physically assault Academy Award presenter Chris Rock. Though I did not watch this event live (because I do not watch television), I read about the incident online before I went to bed on Sunday night. I thought for sure it was a stunt to boost the dismal ratings that the Academy Awards broadcast has endured over the past five to ten years. In my mind, Chris Rock, who was born in South Carolina, but raised in Bed-Stuy, New York, would never just let somebody walk up on him, smack him in the face, and not react UNLESS he was getting paid to do so. This was my initial thought.

Monday morning the internet was ripe with stories, videos and memes of the incident. I was still of the opinion that it was staged. The Will Smith that I watched 30 years ago on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and the squeaky-clean rapper who was one half of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince would never have done something like that. It had to be staged. It wasn’t until I heard that the LAPD had taken a statement from Chris Rock that I began to think this may have been real. Even though the LAPD doesn’t have the best reputation as it pertains to investigating crimes, I figured that they would not have actually been a part of a stunt like this. I could be wrong, but for the moment, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

After watching several videos and having a long conversation with my three daughters, I began to change my mind. I thought about the oscar buzz that I read in 2016, when Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, boycotted the oscars because her husband was not nominated, and she accused the Academy of being “too white”. Chris Rock, who was host that year, made a joke about Mrs. Smith not being invited. I figured that there must still be some bad blood between them because of that.

Time passes and more videos and articles surface. One of those articles includes Smith’s apology to Rock! What? A whole day late, Will Smith decides to acknowledge the fact that he was completely out of line for behaving in such a barbaric manner on international tv. How big of him. (He probably didn’t even write the apology. I’m sure his people wrote it and posted it online for him.) But that is not even where I part company with this whole thing. Where I hold Will Smith completely responsible is the fact that he has shown publicly, over the years, that he is not the tough guy that he pretended to be on Sunday night’s awards show.

Smith’s wife apparently has a Facebook talk show. I did some research and found that it is called “Red Table Talk”. On this show, Jada Pinkett Smith sometimes invites guests to come on and talk about their personal business. Sometimes she does not invite guests, and she sits and talks about her own personal business. It is on one such episode that she and Will discuss her having an extramarital affair with one of their twenty-something year old son’s friends, a rapper named August something. The clips I saw show Will Smith sitting across from the table with his wife looking like he just lost his puppy, while she takes no accountability for her actions. She even goes on to call what happened between her and her son’s friend an “entanglement”. What???

I watched an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, “Fearless” featuring sportswriter turned podcast host Jason Whitlock, where one of his featured guests compared Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to Ahab and Jezebel. I thought this was a great comparison because those of us who are Bible students know that Ahab was an Israelite who knew about the God of the Bible but chose to be led astray by involving himself with a woman who was the daughter of a Baal priest and wicked to the core. Will Smith, 20 plus years ago, claimed to be a Christian, because he had Christian influence in his life through his grandmother. He claimed that the reason he chose to rap in the style he rapped (no cursing, no demeaning women, no violence, no sexual exploitation) was because of the biblical principles that he upheld. He was very different from most of the artists in his genre. Then he met and married Jada Pinkett. Jada had been influenced by the very people Will had tried not to emulate. She was good friends from childhood with a rapper who was one of the vilest in the business. He was so vile that he was constantly in feuds with other people, which ultimately cost him his life. It was always my impression of Will Smith that this was the lifestyle that he chose to avoid. Jada Pinkett Smith brought elements of that lifestyle into Will’s life upon their marriage.

There have been rumors about the Smiths being a part of the church of scientology. Those of us who are true believers and Bible students know that the church of scientology is neither a church nor is it Christian, so Smith’s onlookers wondered what he was doing. There were also rumors of his wife asking him for an open marriage, and apparently that discussion took place on her talk show, once again making Will look like he just lost his lunch. How many times does she get to make him look like a fool publicly? I know this had to weigh on his heart and mind.

Fast forward to oscars 2022. Chris Rock is presenting the award for best documentary. In true Chris Rock fashion, he comes out on stage and begins to roast people in the audience. That is what he does, and I remember that from years ago when I used to watch television and saw him on different shows in front of live audiences. He would pick someone out of the crowd and make jokes about them. The response was usually cordial, with his target laughing about it, before he moved on to his next target. This same formula played out during this ceremony, as Chris Rock joked about another couple in the audience, both of whom were apparently nominated for an award. In the clip I watched, the husband and wife laughed, and the husband interacted with Chris Rock from his seat. Rock then moved on to the now-infamous “G.I. Jane joke”, which did not amuse Jada Pinkett Smith at all. When the camera panned to her, she was not laughing. She was shifting uncomfortably in her seat, while her husband, at this point unaware of his wife’s discomfort, was laughing at the joke. He must have glanced over and noticed her reaction, and he knew instantly he better do something! He leaped into action, walking onstage, assaulting Chris Rock, returning to his seat, and shouting expletives that were heard all over the auditorium.

In light of the events that have occurred from 2020 until the present, highlighting what some call disparities in the treatment of black people versus other ethnicities, it is my opinion that this was a HORRIBLE look for the “woke” crowd. Black people have been complaining about not being respected, even at the Academy Awards, and then they go to the Academy Awards and behave like Will Smith behaved on Sunday night. In my opinion, the Academy Awards has been more than gracious to black people, giving them awards when they did not deserve them. Take for instance, Denzel Washington’s oscar win for “Training Day”. I unfortunately allowed someone to take me to that movie. It was the most disgusting movie I have ever had the misfortune to sit through. I was so embarrassed by Denzel in that movie. He won an oscar for that horrible movie. To add insult to injury, Halle Berry won the best actress award that same year for some vile movie that she made. It is my understanding that Ms Berry had a clause in her contract that stated she would not perform any parts in the nude. She rescinded her “no nudity” clause to make the movie (I don’t even remember the name of the movie because I never saw it and from what I have heard about it, I’m glad I didn’t) and my understanding is that she went all out! Why would the Academy give two black actors the best actor and actress awards in the same year for two terrible movies? They did it because they were tired of hearing black people complain about the oscars being too white!!!

All that to say, if Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and others want to be respected for their craft, they need to respect themselves and others first. If Will was so offended by Rock’s remarks, he should have gone backstage and handled it. He could have called him up the next day and argued with him. He could have gone to his house and they could have duked it out in private. But to claim that black people deserve so much more respect than they get, then disrespect themselves on international tv…’s just like going to the plastic surgeon to get a face lift, then coming home wondering why you look different!

My final observation of all of this is that black people intentionally disrespect each other. I promise you that if Billy Crystal were hosting the oscars and made that same joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith would have sat in that chair and taken it, because if he had walked on that stage and assaulted a white host the way he did Chris Rock, he would have never made it back to his seat. Security would have escorted him out of there, he would have been in cuffs, and we would be doing internet searches for his mugshot this morning. Black people are allowed to disrespect each other with no repercussions, while the world watches and laughs at us. That’s why the murder rate in Chicago is so high. That’s why the crime rate in New Orleans and Baltimore and Atlanta and South-Central Los Angeles and Charlotte is so high. Black people don’t care about respecting each other and the world around them doesn’t care either.

Come on, black America. If you want better, you have to do better.

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