Radical professor says Will Smith’s slap the product of ‘a 400-year commitment to black erasure’

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The taxpayer-funded Public Broadcasting System provided a platform to attribute the Oscar slap by world-famous and “triggered” actor Will Smith as a manifestation of a four-centuries-long “black erasure” and “marginalization.”

In an appearance on the PBS News Hour, professor, film critic, and author Eisa Nefertari Ulen explained what was really behind the Smith-Chris Rock confrontation when the former stormed the stage. Anchor Stephanie Sy teed up the segment by noting that Ulen has authored an essay for The Hollywood Reporter in which she addressed the controversy in the deeper context of “black pain.”

“Why do you think it’s important to see this moment through that lens?” Sy asked about the incident between two wealthy entertainment celebrities, one of which is a movie industry superstar and the other is a very popular comedian.

Will Smith, who has an estimated net worth of $350 million, even won a Best Actor Oscar as Best Actor during the same ceremony.

“I think that any time we witness violence, we need to understand that from a place where we recognize the emotional and psychological state that’s driving this physical response to a trigger,” Ulen replied. “And Will Smith was definitely triggered that night. But I think, in the broader context of American society, we need to understand what was happening there. It’s really rooted and steeped in a 400-year commitment to black erasure, black marginalization, black silencing, and the stereotyping of black people.

“All of that was present in a visceral felt and real way in the infamous slap,” she added.


In the aforementioned Hollywood Reporter piece (which you can review and draw own conclusions), Ulen wrote in part, that “Smith is not exonerated of personal responsibility. He has to own his inappropriate response, his foolishness. Before sanctioning him in ways that concretize the damage he’s already done to his own career, the Academy must also self-reflect and own the well-documented norms, policies and images that have damaged Black people, especially those who work in the business…”

She also opined that “We cannot excuse Will or Chris for their behavior on Oscar night. Chris’ joke was a verbal assault, a tearing down of Black women that was triggering and cruel. Will’s slap was a physical assault, a tearing down of another Black man to reclaim his heteronormative power in that very public realm…Rather than punitively discipline Will Smith for his violence, the Academy and the Hollywood machine should take this opportunity to reflect and recognize their part in fomenting it.”

A Forbes contributor who writes for the news outlet under the diversity, equity, and inclusion banner perhaps similarly claimed that the attack was result of white supremacy that somehow permeates the very liberal, if not super progressive, entertainment sector.

Although it’s been seen by some as a beef between two dudes about a hairstyle, just about everyone seems to have an opinion about what happened at the Academy Awards last Sunday evening, presumably including iconic (and himself often controversial) actor Mel Gibson, whose interview with Fox News host Jesse Watters was abruptly short-circuited by his publicist before he could weigh in.

Breitbart’s John Nolte has rejected any identity politics ramifications and instead has argued that the altercation was the result of a dynamic in Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s marriage.

“It was an uncontrolled, rage-filled overreaction on Smith’s part that had nothing to do with Rock and everything to do with a cuckold’s need to reassert his manhood in front of a world that’s either laughing at him or pitying him,” Nolte claimed.

That aside, many Twitter users aren’t giving the professor’s thesis high marks. Here is a sampling:


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