By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou has gained thy brother.” (Matthew 18:15)
In many a context, Will Smith’s behavior was completely understandable. No man should mock another man’s wife and expect that man to quietly accept the mockery. Or the wife either. That being said, it would have been better for Will Smith to catch up with Chris Rock backstage and told him that joke Rock told about Jada had better be the last one he ever tells.
Comedians have the incredulity to believe that anything they say, no matter how insensitive or wrapped in pain, the words are acceptable. Even if the “joke” targets what a disease has done to someone. As was the case with Jada Pinkett Smith and her battle with alopecia.
The disease as it does with most who have it has taken her hair. She still looks good but sometimes goes bald or wears her hair very low. Chris Rock decided to make “joke” about it as I understand he has done before. Bad decision.
Personally, I’m a Chris Rock fan, I have always been, but I think he went way too far in what he adlibbed about Jada Pinkett Smith. And Will Smith went too far in physically attacking Chris Rock in front of a world-wide audience.
One of the social constructs Black men constantly have to be burdened with is the belief we have a strong, uncontrollable inclination for physical violence.
And others believe we have it no matter what our social standing is or our financial significance. While they may not have intended to do so, Smith and Rock gave standing to that belief of our being violence prone.
I want to believe they just or Will Smith at least got caught up in the moment. That certainly happens to all of us. Still is a moment that should have never happened. Don’t miss-understand, I’m not a pacifist. I believe in defending one’s self and in defending loved ones or those who cannot defend themselves.
Yet, we have to defend also the optics reflecting our people. Because whether we like it or not, Black people and other people of color are still connected together in ways we may not like but are societal realities.
I know in real time a great many of us do not accept that fact but a lot of time when you are doing you, you are also doing us. And not in a good way. Seems like hyperbole?
If you think the power of images are over-estimated, think about how the picture of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock will be remembered long after the image of him accepting his Oscar will be.
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