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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices

Black Voices: Protecting Black women should be second nature, not performative


The late Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.”

He made this bold statement during his speech in the early 1960s. More than 60 years later, many would say the statement is still true.

The 2022 Oscars had media sites in a frenzy after an altercation between actor Will Smith and comedian Chris Rock. 

Smith slapped Rock across the face while he was on stage presenting an award at the Oscars. Directly after the hit, Will Smith made a comment to Rock to not speak ill about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. Although violence is never the answer, many argued he was defending his wife who was humiliated by Rock, for the second time, on national television. Rock had previously poked fun at Pinkett-Smith in front of viewers when she decided to boycott the Oscars in 2016. 

Rock showed no compassion for Pinkett-Smith who has spoken openly about her battle with alopecia and how much her hair loss has affected her. Some viewers have ridiculed Rock for his tasteless joke because he has two Black daughters who could someday face the same cold and harsh treatment that society gives Black women. 

Rock made a mockery of her unfortunate condition in front of a live audience and millions of viewers at the Oscars. Smith’s rage was provoked and understandable, although his actions were absurd. 

Following this incident, a common theme addressed concerning Rock and Smith was protecting Black women. This entire situation caused the Black community to speak on how to properly protect Black women. It doesn’t have to be violent, overly aggressive or performative but instead should be second nature. The same way it is with women of other races.  

Treon McClendon, a Black IU doctoral student and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, gave his opinion on the situation and explained why he was understanding of Smith’s action. 

“Rock was disrespectful towards their relationship and Will had reached his breaking point because it wasn’t the first time this has happened,” McClendon said.

McClendon said he thinks protecting Black women shouldn’t be problematic and instead, it should be unifying.

“Other individuals need to start advocating for Black women and show compassion along with genuine courtesy,” McClendon said.

Following this incident, Smith has publicly apologized and has faced tough repercussions for his actions. Smith was forced to resign from the Academy and has disciplinary proceedings pending. Rock has not apologized for his rude comment to Pinkett-Smith and has faced little backlash for his hurtful statements. 

Both parties were wrong in this incident, and although their actions are incomparable, both should feel remorse. Rock displayed the ultimate level of hypocrisy with his bad joke and disappointed Black women everywhere.

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