White Americans Blamed For Will Smith Attack

Photo by Mirko Fabian on Unsplash

These excuses are getting crazier.

After Sunday‘s Oscar slapping debacle, one unlikely culprit has emerged: a racist system.

The 94th Academy Awards made headlines for all the wrong reasons after Best Actor nominee Will Smith barged onto the stage to slap comedian Chris Rock after the comedian joked about Smith’s wife’s hair.

On Monday, after the incident had received widespread criticism online, in the media, and from fellow actors, Smith, 53, promptly released a public apology to Rock, 57, for his actions.

Most on social media condemned Smith’s outburst. However, a handful of dissidents gave an alternative interpretation of the event, with CNN commentator Asha Rangappa blaming former President Donald Trump for desensitizing the masses to such violence.

By Monday, more than Smith’s Instagram apology was being published. An article by Janice Gassam Asare was published by Forbes, in which the diversity and inclusion consultant argued the scandal was primarily heightened by “the white gaze.”

In the piece, Asare argues, “There is a segment of the population that believes that although Smith was justified in his anger, he shouldn’t have behaved that way in front of ‘mixed company.”

She continued, saying, “Many of us are socialized to believe that there is no time and place for Black anger or emotion, especially in front of non-Black people,” adding, “By saying that Will Smith shouldn’t have reacted that way because of how he will be perceived by the largely white audience is the perpetuation of the white gaze.”

By Tuesday, Forbes was doubling down on this perspective, publishing  a piece titled: “While Talking About Will Smith’s Behavior, Don’t Forget To Also Talk About The System That Helped Create It.”

In the piece, contributor Maia Niguel Hoskin draws a line from white supremacy to the incident, saying the behavior is a “systemic issue.”

Discussing the slap, Hoskin notes, “This is about a much larger systemic issue rooted in white supremacist culture designed to police the behavior of Blacks amongst the who’s who in Hollywood and beyond.”

Hoskin continued, “Respectability politics suggest that equity and fair treatment require that Black people — both inside and outside of Hollywood — conduct ourselves in a manner deemed acceptable to whites.”

Eisa Nefertari Ulen of the Hollywood Reporter shared Hoskin’s view, saying that it was “the well-documented norms, policies, and images that have damaged Black people” that led to the slap.

She also encouraged the Academy and “the Hollywood machine” to “take this opportunity to reflect and recognize their part in fomenting [Will Smith’s]” behavior.