Guardian columnist Tayo Bero argued that the backlash to Will Smith slapping an Oscars presenter on-stage Sunday is a result of the “anti-blackness” of “white audiences.”
In a Tuesday op-ed, Bero claimed Smith has been subjected to a racist “double standard” for assaulting Chris Rock after the comedian — who, like the writer and the actor, is black — made a joke about his wife.
- “It would seem that there’s a layer of hyper-violence that’s being projected on to Smith simply because he is a Black man who was defending his Black wife,” Bero wrote.
- “Anyone who has been following these shows can see that Smith is being held up to much stricter standards than white men who have behaved just as badly or even worse in those settings,” he continued, pointing to John Wayne’s outburst at the 1973 Oscars and the Academy’s honoring of director and convicted child rapist Roman Polanski.
- “I also find it hard to believe that the same white audiences who consume violence against Black people on screen to an almost fetishistic degree (and are quite happy to have the Academy reward these gratuitously violent projects year after year) are so distraught about an open-palm slap. Again, this kind of performative pearl-clutching is only ever reserved for Black men who mess up.”
Prominent black Americans have been divided over Smith’s high-profile act of violence.
- NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar slammed Smith for “perpetuating stereotypes about the black community,” while comedian Tiffany Haddish called the attack “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives.”
- A YouGov poll released Monday found black Americans, like the public in general, overwhelmingly think Smith’s actions were “not acceptable.”