Speaking with political commentator Angela Rye on her “On One with Angela Rye” podcast, Will Smith discussed the current Black Lives Matter movement, protests and his own experiences with police growing up in West Philadelphia.
“I grew up under, you know, Mayor [Frank] Rizzo. He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor and he had an iron hand,” the Academy Award-nominated actor recalled. “I’ve been called ni**er by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions, right? I got stopped frequently. So, I understand what it’s like to be in those circumstances.”
“But I went to Catholic school out in the suburbs, so I understand what the disparities are in a really interesting way,” he continued. “White kids were happy when the cops showed up and my heart always started pounding. There’s a part of this that people who don’t grow up in that, you just can’t comprehend. You just can’t comprehend what it feels like to feel like you live in an occupied territory.”
Smith also discussed the term “Black Lives Matter” and counter-protest chants like “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter,” saying the issue of contention lies in miscommunication.
“Something as simple as ‘Black Lives Matter,’ what’s the fu*king point of contention?” he asked. “The point of contention is that’s not what the person’s hearing. So, that’s where communication rules come in very handy.”
“For somebody to respond, ‘All lives matter,’ ‘Blue lives matter,’ it’s like…” he said, making a frustrated face.
As for the ongoing anti-police brutality protests, Smith said protesters’ “rage” is completely warranted, but he’s grateful that demonstrations have stayed mostly peaceful.
“For the world to see what we’ve been saying for hundreds of years — my grandmother taught me to be thankful for these opportunities, to be thankful for your pain,” he said. “The entire globe has stood up and said to the African American people, ‘We see you, we hear you. How can we help?’ We’ve never been there before.”
“What I love about the peaceful protests — peaceful protests put up a mirror to the demonic imagery of your oppressor,” he continued. “The more still you are in your peaceful protests, the more clear the mirror is to the oppressor for the world to see and for them to see themselves.”
Check out Smith’s full interview with Rye below.