If you have not seen the explosive video of Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars, you are missing out on all the discourse surrounding it! For days this is a moment that has sparked several conversations amongst my peers and myself. It has been discussed in several of my academic settings. I still can’t decide whether he was “right” or “wrong.”
It is imperative to acknowledge that I do not condone violence, but I believe that Will Smith was defending his wife. This instance was not the first time Chris Rock has come for the Smith family. While I do not endorse Will Smith’s actions, I understand why he did it. Chris Rock should have never made that joke about Jada’s hair:
1. Aware that she has a medical condition (alopecia)
2. Aware of what hair can mean to Black women.
There is discourse surrounding the common theme that we see among Black women. Aware that Black women are constantly brought down and made a joke by the world. Finally, we see (publicly) they’re finally being defended by Black men (specifically). With this, we are (hopefully) starting to see a change in our culture.
This awareness brings me to my second 2 subjects: Ketanji Brown Jackson (KBJ) and Senator Cory Booker. Again if you haven’t been keeping up with recent politics, let me give you the short run down. KBJ is going through a confirmation hearing to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. After hours of sleuths of irrelevant questions not about her work as a Judge, Senator Booker had the chance to speak to her. Check out what he said below.
This video reiterates how we are seeing more publicly Black women defended by Black men, which was not something that had happened before. On the point of defending Black women, I want to talk not only about Jada’s hair but KBJ’s as well.
We talked about hair in my Black Religion in America class and how hair was related to the Rastafari religion. It reached a point where we began discussing what hair means to the Black community. Remembering when I was younger, my mother taught me the importance of my hair and what it means to have hair like mine. I grew up in a predominantly white area and was surrounded by people who had hair that did not look like mine. It was extremely difficult for me to come to terms with seeing my hair as something to be proud of and something that connects me with my roots. I saw it as something that even further differentiated me from my peers. It wasn’t until summer coming into my first year of college that I started to accept my hair and saw it as beautiful. When connecting the defense of KBJ and Jada, another thing that is defended: is how Black women chose to wear their hair. People do not know or understand what Jada’s hair could have meant to her and how it connected her to her roots, Will Smith was the only one able to see how her hair loss affected her. Some people don’t understand the significance of KBJ on TV wearing her hair the way so many Black women today wear their hair.
If you haven’t seen the news lately, the House just passed the CROWN act. “The CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, passed along party lines with a vote of 235-189. The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote” (NPR). The NCAAP quotes, “Policies that prohibit natural hairstyles, like afros, braids, Bantu knots, and locs, have been used to justify the removal of Black children from classrooms and Black adults from their employment.” If you want to learn more, I encourage you to read this NPR article:
The passing of this bill in the House is long overdue. I cannot help but feel hopeful for the generations to come. While everyone might not see the importance of not only Black men public defending Black women, but now see a potential Justice wearing her hair like so many other girls, I do. I encourage you all to learn more about the types of problems. It could open your eyes to a world unseen. To me, and I’m sure several Black women around the country, progress is being made at this forefront. I sincerely hope that young Black girls will grow up with more confidence, to be themselves and achieve things than when I grew up.
4 thoughts on “Never Let Your Crown Fall”
This was a great blog. I never knew what hair meant in the black community. This was really eye-opening for me to understand the recent incidents. I’m really glad the current society is changing. When I heard the story about Will Smith and Chris Brown I had a similar reaction. I understand WIll Smith’s behaviors. Even though I really hope this incident increases awareness and respect toward black women, I am worried about how it might become a meme. Since Will Smith used violence, I see a lot of videos or pictures used as a meme.
Thank you Min Joo! I have seen a variety of memes on this topic (which I myself have laughed at). I do agree though, however, sometimes all publicity is good publicity! While it may not have been ideal, at least people are starting to have the conversation about not only what hair means to Black women but the narrative of Black men finally sticking up for Black women, when other Black men make jokes at Black women’s expense.
I have kind of a two-sided response to this blog post. On the policy side, I certainly am glad to hear about the passage of the CROWN act and the affirmation of natural hairstyles for Black women and Black girls in public spaces (including schools, employment, etc.). Having someone like KBJ on the Supreme Court will go a long way in increasing the visibility of Black women wearing their natural hairstyles comfortably and proudly and positions of power. This is great news.
I must acknowledge, however, a great disagreement in opinion regarding Will Smith hitting Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday night. I’m frankly not sure how one can say that they are deciding whether what Will Smith did was right or wrong. I believe it was clearly wrong, and there is no understanding or excusing his actions.
Alopecia is a medical condition, but not at all a physically harmful or threatening one. I myself have early androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). I have consulted with dermatologists about it and taken both prescription and over-the-counter medicines for it, but ultimately I am just going to have to deal with the fact that I am balding. It’s a common condition for billions of people.
Jada Smith is certainly allowed to feel a little hurt or ticked by Rock’s joke and roll her eyes as she did, but ultimately it is just a joke at an awards show. Making little digs and jokes at celebrities is par for the course. Chris Rock is a comedian host of an entertainment event — this was exactly what he was hired for.
And, to Jada Smith’s credit, she acted appropriately in the moment. She rolled her eyes and that was all. If she wanted to speak with Rock after the event and tell him that she did not appreciate the joke and that she hoped he would refrain from making those in the future, that would be understandable as well. It was Will Smith who was completely out of line.
Why should we praise Will Smith for “defending” his wife from a harmless joke (a joke that he himself laughed at)? The idea that he should have to “step in and defend” his wife is itself sexist. By slapping Chris Rock, Will Smith asserted that his wife needs him to protect herself from the words of a comedian at an awards show. That she is incapable of sticking up for herself or of responding in a healthy manner to a joke, and that because of this, violence is the correct solution. He wasn’t “protecting” her, he was patronizing, even infantilizing her.
On top of all that, he slapped the host at the awards show that give him an Academy Award. On a night he was supposed to be celebrated for his achievements, his character, his commitment to peace and love, he instead chose violence.
Thanks for the input! I appreciate it! However, if you read below:
“It is imperative to acknowledge that I do not condone violence, but I believe that Will Smith was defending his wife. This instance was not the first time Chris Rock has come for the Smith family. While I do not endorse Will Smith’s actions, I understand why he did it. Chris Rock should have never made that joke about Jada’s hair:
1. Aware that she has a medical condition (alopecia)
2. Aware of what hair can mean to Black women.”
I did not condone Will Smith’s behavior but simply said I understand his actions. I also don’t agree that his standing up for his wife is sexist. Could you elaborate on that for me? Referring to your comment about how it was “just a joke” again refer to the passage above. The majority of my blog post was about what hair means to Black women. For you to say it was a “harmless joke” in itself, is harmful.