Your husband – Will Smith – moves out of his chair, into the aisle, towards the stage. In front of the entire world, reaches back, and slaps the presenter. Later, your son – Jade Smith – tweets – “that is how we do it.”
Wait, I’m confused. Aren’t you from Baltimore? A city with a well-documented history of violence, with a murder rate which remains at a constant – high? Weren’t you friends with Tupac Shakur – another famous, former citizen of the city – who is now dead. He – Tupac – young, viral, invincible, and black.
I don’t know whose tweet came first, but a Congresswoman – Ayanna Pressley – too joined in the slaying – tweeting a thank you to your husband for defending you and those “living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance and insults”. I am confused.
Let me back up, your son’s tweet: “This is how we do it!” Aren’t those the lyrics to an old school song, if I can dare say that a song produced in 1995 is old school. No matter, this is something which shouldn’t be said.
My memory tells a different story. Death Row Record and others didn’t spend any considerable time condemning war, the death penalty, racial pride, inequality. I remember a misogynist culture – videos, lyrics – showing us, how it should be done. The man you married made his name on music that didn’t rely upon violence, previous convictions, scars of violence, nor gold, silver, diamonded teeth – for legitimacy. He relied on his talents. Has he become so full of himself (this does sound a little old school of me), that he can take a leisurely stroll onto a public stage, before millions, an assault a fellow entertainer for telling a weak joke, Really, …? And then your son brags about the assault.
Did I say Notorious B.I.G. died too?
Nina Simone sang, “young, gifted, and black?” Didn’t she, didn’t she?” Are we now losing something in time, in translation?
I don’t need to hear, “he was protecting his woman.” Come on, you from Baltimore. Pull on his coat and tell him to sit his butt down. You and your husband have considerable influence and societal sway. His sway, your sway should not be abused. Grab your grown-ass son by the neck and tell him to shut up and apologize to Chris Rock. Your husband and son’s conduct are not “this is how we do it” moments.
No, no, this should be a teaching moment – how sexism and violence poisons us all – a perverse sickness which plays out in the papers and courtroom all over this country, Men feeling entitled to do silly and violent things as they talk about loving you at the same time. Men not understanding they too die when they buy into this false machismo, while forgetting what is important.
How about talking about speech to your audience and why more speech is important? Speech – and creativeness – are the reasons for your growth and development in your chosen profession. Tell us why the joke was insulting. Talk about your disease. Invite comedians around the Red Table to discuss humor – not just the comedians you agree with, don’t let anyone escape by using labels to silence on both sides of the divide. Get your speakers to tell stories – and jokes – about their own growth and development in storytelling and why speech is important. Oh sure, talking this approach may mean growth on your part too, but that’s okay. Invite the Congresswomen and others to appear around the table and discuss her feelings and why she tweeted why she tweeted what she did and ask her whether she supports the violence demonstrated.
If your husband pulls away, use public embarrassment to stop your man in his tracks; make your own scene, “loud talk” him, turned on the ball of your feet and leave.
Through speech and thoughts – they, we, us – capture the moment and avoids further labeling the victims by the most inconvenient truth – – that you, I, them – – can’t take a joke. You know what – Chappelle’s hate may get labeled appropriately – for what it is – hate. And if he isn’t hateful, he gets to say why he isn’t – hateful. And if he is – hateful – he gets to own it.
Telling stories, making us think … laugh … cry … is your and your husband’s profession. You do know, don’t you? – yours is a privilege and not a right.
And one more thing – do the momma thing. Tell your son to stop the punk thing – shouting, “kill him”, then walking away – as another black man, child, boy die. You’re from Baltimore, you know what that look’s like, don’t you?