Will Smith, Chris Rock and Jada Smith’s ‘Season for Healing’



 Chido Nwangwu x-rays the recent ‘slapping episode’ involving Will Smith and Chris Rock
The American cultural universe got an unusual, public jolt at the secular cathedral of the Hollywood elite in Los Angeles. It was quite an unusual turn for the highly managed and choreographed ceremonial, awards event for the glitterati. Hence it has ignited discussions across constituencies of the American mosaic and identities. 

It’s dominating the brief notes of brilliance, chattering simplifications and sentiments on the social media regarding the infamous slap at the Academy Awards of March 27, 2022.   It was a slap from which the constellation of the arbiters of styles, dramatic arts and creative digital sciences watched their own live telecast of irreverence and poor etiquette. 

Like most people who watched the show, I wondered who added this slice of audience involvement with the famed former ‘Fresh Prince of Bellaire’ Will Smith as physical aggressor? Who’s the evil genius that thought it necessary to instantly reward tasteless, needless, unfunny, and insensitive Chris Rock jokes with a “dirty slap” from Will? 
As professionals, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters and leaders of our African-American communities here in the U.S and around the world, live on one of the world’s biggest stages, a part of our fears was evident. 

Sadly, as two among the most influential African-American personalties in the entertainment industry, top comedian Chris Rock and particularly leading actor Will Smith (who slapped the gravel-voice Chris Rock) added fuel to the misguided, racial stereotype of “the Angry Black Man”! No matter; we regularly see and read the regular actions of the “Angry White Man”. 

Some consider(ed) it a fitting response, an act of chivalry and “protective” of his wife. 
I also see the clash of expectations, divergence on how to enhance and ensure respect and dignity for our wives. 
Thankfully, Will has apologized to Chris, the Academy and everyone, stating that: “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.” 
Jada followed  with a commendable message of repair and reconciliation via her instagram that: “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.” 

Even as this “season of healing” begins, it should address lingering issues about our capacity to respect, albeit difficult, other persons rights to and artistes’ right to freedom of creative expressions.  
I consider Chris’ joke about the bald head of Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, ill-advised and insensitive. May be, he didn’t know that Jada keeps that look due to a medical condition. She suffers from Alopecia, an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss on the scalp and face.

At another level, there are radical feminists of all races and backgrounds who  feel it’s insulting for a man to assume that the woman needs to be “protected”.

The critical question remains: do we have to “protect” our Black wives or White or Brown wives with physical actions against anyone, ignoramuses and the congenitally annoying (voices) of the likes of Chris Rock? No! Let the “season of healing” begin.
 *Dr. Nwangwu serves as Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com

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