The infamous Oscar slap has deeper implications than a bruise

Gerard Ortiz
Courtesy of Getty Pictures
Chris Rock’s joke designed at the Oscars about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia was a lot more unsafe than Will Smith’s now infamous slap.

BY MIA GALLO
Associate Mosaic Editor

The minute actor Will Smith’s palm made get hold of with comic Chris Rock’s cheek, the environment outside the Dolby Theater seemingly descended into chaos. The notorious moment came about as a outcome of a joke Rock designed onstage at the Oscars on March 27, about Smith’s spouse, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

“Jada, I appreciate you. G.I. Jane 2, cannot wait,” Rock says. The titular character of the referenced film sporting activities a buzzcut, related to that of Pinkett Smith.

Even so, there is a substantial change in between the intentions guiding the two hairstyles. G.I. Jane’s fictional protagonist, Jordan O’Neill, has a shaved head as the outcome of voluntarily enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Pinkett Smith, on the other hand, has a shaved head as the final result of a professional medical situation. 

In 2018, Pinkett Smith publicly introduced that she experienced been identified with alopecia areata, an autoimmune illness ensuing in hair decline. She has because ongoing to publicly detail her struggles with the issue, and in the long run shaved the remainder of her hair in July 2021. 

Pinkett Smith, along with other prominent Black females in Hollywood, have emphasised the cultural importance of hair in their community — a simple fact that Rock is perfectly conscious of, as the writer and producer of the 2009 documentary “Good Hair.” The inspiration arrived from Rock’s very own daughter’s inquisition about her hair. The movie explores the explanations why Black girls undertake diverse hairstyles and the great importance of hair as a full inside Black society. 

He possessed the utmost knowledge of this intimate romance and chose to hit Pinkett Smith in which it would damage most for some laughs.

There have been many instances in which this really personal part of Black culture is appropriated by prominent customers of culture. This appropriation frequently arrives in the kind of non-Black men and women putting on protecting hairstyles that are merely not meant for their hair kinds and that they do not have a cultural connection to. Celebrities these as Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber are amongst just some of these who have donned box braids and dreadlocks, respectively. 

It has been emphasised by Pinkett Smith that her hair bears an abundance of cultural and emotional importance. Black girls have been utilizing protecting hairstyles this sort of as box braids, cornrows and twists for hundreds of a long time. But, these do not just provide as a way to shield their all-natural hair from every day manipulation but to specific their Blackness. The ritual of having treatment of their hair can have significant emotional fat as nicely. Ladies are usually taught how to treatment for their curls by their mothers and grandmothers and frequently move these methods alongside to their small children. Pinkett Smith detailed that getting rid of this aspect of herself was shedding a lovely ritual.

A different outstanding Black lady, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) was also identified with alopecia and has been publicly detailing the effects that have experienced on her id.

“I did not want to go to snooze due to the fact I did not want the morning to appear the place I would eliminate this bonnet, and my wrap, and be achieved with more hair in the sink,” Pressley advised The Root. “And the graphic in the mirror of a particular person who increasingly felt like a stranger to me.”

The twists that Pressley donned for her the bulk of her political profession turned a section of her manufacturer as very well as served as an inspiration for Black women and ladies nationwide. Pressley made the decision to go community with her diagnosis to present an explanation to all the younger women who had penned her letters as she felt like it was a cultural betrayal to them.

The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found in a 2019 research that alopecia really impacts Black individuals at a bigger amount than any other racial demographic. A study was done at Boston College of 5,500 Black females that exposed that roughly 48% of them have dealt with hair loss in some capacity.

Rock’s joke and the subsequent slap have invited tens of millions of folks who have no information of Black tradition to make assumptions and acquire sides in an emotionally-loaded problem. Condemning Smith’s violent response is one particular thing, but absolutely absolving Rock of any guilt in this circumstance is yet another. If you are not a Black girl, you do not have any footing to assert Rock’s comment was manufactured lighthearted or “just a joke.”

Whilst Pinkett Smith has publicly come to conditions with her diagnosis, that acceptance does not erase the many years of emotional labor it took for her to attain that issue. Rock reopened that wound in entrance of all of Hollywood. The battle faced when your possess entire body is attacking the hair that can normally be definitive to who they are ought to not be joked about at all, forget on this sort of a big phase.

No make any difference his intentions, Rock’s remark and the on-line discourse enveloping it will keep on to lead to Black gals suffering extensive right after the bruise fades from his cheek.

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