Willow Smith weighs in on cancel culture: 'Shaming doesn't lead to learning'
Jada Pinkett Smith and her daughter were joined by activists Dr. Angela Davis and Tamika D. Mallory for a special Juneteenth episode of Red Table Talk.
Jada Pinkett Smith and her daughter, Willow Smith, devoted an episode of their Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk to discussing Juneteenth on Friday, June 19, the day that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.
The mother-daughter duo were joined by Jada's mother Gammy, legendary Civil Rights leader Dr. Angela Davis, and activist Tamika D. Mallory in the episode titled "Black America In Crisis," to address the current state of emergency within Black America. The roundtable covered topics ranging from racism to police brutality, white supremacy to "Karens," and even cancel culture.
"It’s Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day," Jada began. "On June 19, 1865, the last remaining African-American slaves were set free. On this June 19, Black America is in a crisis. Two women who I love and respect are here for real talk about the urgent time we are living in right now. They are freedom fighters from two different generations. Dr. Angela Davis is a legend, an iconic Civil Rights activist, and one of the most brilliant women I know. And we also have Ms. Tamika Mallory, who has been fighting passionately for our Black brothers and sisters for over 25 years."
In talking about the reactions to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Breonna Taylor, Gammy praised social media for helping to shine a light on the tragedies. "Thank goodness for social media because we could at least film it, but you just think about all the times that it’s happened and all the cases that we don’t know about," she said.
Jada added, "When I watched the George Floyd video, just the amount of restraint just for me to remain steady. I don’t think that people understand the amount of pain and then the anger that goes along with it and the trauma."
"I feel like right now, [this is] the first time I’ve ever seen so many people on the same page," Willow said. "On one hand, that’s really inspiring and gives me a lot of hope. And on the other hand, it kind of feels like, just now?"
Jada noted that one of the most painful things for her is "the idea that Black men are the most dangerous creatures on the planet, so if he’s drunk in a drive-thru at Wendy’s, that justifies him being murdered or everyone talking about whatever George Floyd’s rap sheet might have been as if any of that has anything to do with his rights to be treated as a human being."
And in talking about white women becoming educated on issues of systemic racism, Jada admitted she has a "difficult time with [her] white sisters."
"So if you are a freedom fighter, as a white woman, I can’t understand for the life of me why it’s so difficult to understand how racism is a tool that’s used to oppress people and as long as there is any oppressed person on this planet, your fight will never end," she said. "I think that’s the thing we need to get our white sisters to understand. You can’t separate your '-isms' from ours."
As the discussion pivoted to cancel culture, Willow noted that it "is so prevalent right now." She continued, "I’m seeing people shaming others, like saying really terrible things. Shaming people for what they are choosing to say or shaming people for not saying anything at all. I feel like if we really want change, shaming doesn’t lead to learning."
Mallory agreed. "Cancel culture is a little dangerous," she said. "It definitely is because none of us are perfect. It is a space that is a little difficult to maneuver because you do have to leave people room to make mistakes, to grow and to learn, but they have to show that they’re willing."
Joked Jada, "I’m expecting to be canceled at some point!"
Watch the full Red Table Talk episode above.
To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
- Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
- Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.