Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
Actor Will Smith attends the premiere of Concussion on Jan. 27, 2016, in Madrid.
Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

This is hard for me, because I love Will Smith.

But Smith—like most new wave, #NewBlack people (in other words, black people who came into money and have been rich for such a long time that they rarely ever see the racism in things)—seems to be very hesitant to admit that an issue or barrier he faces stems from racism. Check out what he said recently about how he rarely encounters racism.


It's almost as if these #NewBlack people so desperately don't want to be perceived as using race as a crutch (and there's nothing wrong with that, except, well, when it is about race). "If I made it, any black person can make it," they often think.

It's the same thinking that compelled Whoopi Goldberg to argue that the Academy Awards can't have  that much of a problem rewarding black cinematic performances because she once won an Oscar

During an interview with the BBC—a global news outlet—Smith made sure to point out that he's a member of the Academy Awards voting board, and so the problem of how the academy is not nominating black actors and actresses is something he's responsible for, too.

"It's not us and them, it's we—I'm a member of the academy," Will said. "So it's much more a domestic family issue than it is a civil rights issue, so it's a problem that we all have to solve." 

Yep, he made sure to tell the BBC and its international audiences that he doesn't think this is a "civil rights issue"—read: a black issue. 


I'll never forget when actress Vivica Fox said that Smith told her a long time ago that if she wanted to be successful, she'd better work on being perceived as a person in Hollywood, and not a "black" person. Smith, she said, told her to become "colorless" to people.

Here Smith is, years and years of success later—of transcending race, so to speak—and he slipped up and reminded America, and the world, that at his core he's a black man.


Kicking up all that dust about the #OscarsSoWhite issue cast that melanin light on him. Now his talk about how this is not a "civil rights issue" seems to be his attempt at backpedaling from all of this race talk. Instead he's restructuring the conversation around how it's something that all of the academy's voting members ought to tackle.

It's troublesome. That he got shaken out of this protest tip he was on, and now seems to want to go back to being post-racial.


He went on to say that he's proud of the upcoming changes in who will make up the academy voting board going forward. "I was very pleased at how quickly and aggressively the academy responded," Smith said.

He also quashed the idea that he's only hot and bothered about all of this because he wasn't nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Concussion.


"But I want to be very clear about the spirit of what I'm saying," he said. "This is far beyond me—this has nothing to do with me; this has nothing to do with awards. That's a very frivolous reason for me to put my hand up and make a statement. For me, this is much more about the idea of diversity and inclusion." 

Yep, that's a hard pill to swallow. Even still, kudos to him and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, for using their power to compel Hollywood to address its race issue, even if Will Smith may not feel completely comfortable with the repercussions.


For more of black Twitter, check out The Chatterati on The Root and follow The Chatterati on Twitter.

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.

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