Retired professional basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gave his thoughts on the incident that took the world by storm during the 94th Academy Awards.
When actor Will Smith approached comedian Chris Rock and planted a slap on his face in front of a live audience, many people did not hold back their opinions.
Some instantly defended Smith, as he was defending his wife Jada Smith from Rock’s joke about her hair loss. On the other hand, some were shocked by this display of violence and the actor’s lack of self-control. Of the people who had commentary to give in regards to the incident, the former basketball player felt it was most important to bring attention to how Jada felt about the slap.
“I just felt that Will’s wife really should have been given some consideration as to, you know, how she felt about it and what she wanted to do about it,” Abdul-Jabbar explained, according to ET. “I mean [people] just ignored her altogether and I didn’t think that made much sense. You know, she’s the one that would’ve been offended if it was offensive. It wasn’t like somebody like riding her… You never know what people are thinking. That’s how I see it.”
Although the 75-year-old emphasized the importance of Jada’s emotions and her reaction to Rock’s joke, he also dismissed Smith’s actions completely. As he continued his statement, he argued that the slap was reductive to women and the Black community.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on how the Will Smith slap negatively impacts women and the Black community
“This patronizing, paternal attitude infantilizes women and reduces them to helpless damsels needing a Big Strong Man to defend their honor lest they swoon from the vapors,” he shared. “If he was really doing it for his wife, and not his own need to prove himself, he might have thought about the negative attention this brought on them, much harsher than the benign joke. That would have been truly defending and respecting her.”
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In addition, Abdul-Jabbar relayed how Smith’s action is a negative portrayal of the Black community. “The Black community also takes a direct hit from Smith. One of the main talking points from those supporting the systemic racism in America is characterizing Blacks as more prone to violence and less able to control their emotions,” he expressed.
“Smith just gave comfort to the enemy by providing them with the perfect optics they were dreaming of. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro wasted no time going full-metal jacket racist by declaring the Oscars are ‘not the hood.’ What would she have said if Brad Pitt slapped Ricky Gervais? This isn’t Rodeo Drive? Many will be reinvigorated to continue their campaign to marginalize African Americans and others through voter suppression campaign,” Abdul-Jabbar continued.
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