Chris Rock crossed the line when he
ridiculed Jada Pinkett Smith for her alopecia in his mediocre Oscar
performance last week. But I fell off the Chris Rock bandwagon years
ago. His “humor” is too often misogynistic. He sometimes laughs
so hard at his jokes that the rest of us can’t hear them. His
Oscar-losing reference to a more than 20-year-old movie, GI Jane, was
cringingly yawn-worthy, and it was unnecessary. Jada didn’t like
it. She sat in the audience, in her glorious baldness, and rolled her
eyes, which was all the response Rock deserved.
Smith took it to another level, charging the stage and slapping the
spit out of Rock, finishing with a profanity-laced rant. No, Smith
had no business striking Rock, and now he has had to pick up the
pieces. At the same time, part of me cheered him because only
infrequently does anyone stand up for Black women. We stand up for
1991, as members of the United States Senate were attacking Anita
Hill, sixteen hundred of us, including my Mom and my three sisters,
all signed the proclamation published in the New
York Times and other
major newspapers. We called ourselves African American Women in
Defense of Ourselves, declaring that “no one will speak for us but
ourselves.” We wrote, “In 1991, we cannot tolerate this type of
dismissal of anyone Black woman’s experience or this attack upon
our collective character without protest, outrage, and resistance.”
forward thirty years or so. Now another Black woman, Supreme Court
nominee Ketanji Jackson Brown, sits before the Senate Judiciary
Committee, and a whole bunch of white Republican men (and a few
women) have viciously attacked her. Texas Ted Cruz insultingly asked
if she was “soft” on child pornography. Actually, he didn’t
ask, he ranted and raved and wouldn’t let her finish a sentence. It
was a horrible display of his bullying, but it was also a reminder
that no matter how far Black women have come, we have so much work to
do so that our daughters, perhaps, won’t have to experience these
kinds of biases.
have developed the rather unfortunate and time-consuming habit of
reading the comments posted online after some articles. There are
three or four times (or more) comments about Chris Rock and the slap
than about Justice Ketanji Jackson Brown and her abuse from Ted Cruz
and his cronies. And despite Judge Brown’s composure and amazing
grace, there were too few who had her back.
while Katanji is no Jada Smith, nor vice versa, these are two Black
women who have experienced violent attacks in the last several weeks.
And while it is not helpful in a civilized society to talk about
slapping or fisticuffs, some of Cruz’s antics are enough to make
one forget her religion and resort to extreme measures. Between Jada
Smith and Katanji Brown Jackson, we are all reminded that no matter
what you have achieved as a Black woman, you can still be torn down
by the hateful words and deeds of misogynistic men, regardless of
someone of being “soft” on child pornography or terrorism is
serious. Making such false accusations in belligerent and blustering
tones is bullying. Maintaining poise and dignity makes Justice
Katanji a shero and role model and makes Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham
look like babbling idiots. The same is true of Chris Rock, who may
not have known about Jada’s alopecia. It’s a condition that
affects millions of women, and they, like Jada, weren’t laughing.
Supreme Court confirmation is exponentially more important than the
slap. And the abuse of Black women in this country is disgusting.
Let’s focus more on the former than the latter and focus on rooting
out the verbal and physical abuse of Black women. It isn’t funny.