Ableism has been a problem since the beginning of time, no one is disputing that. Both Will Smith and Chris Rock are celebrities and they accept the risk that it comes with. Chris Rock is a comedian and even comedians need to have lines they will not cross. There is a difference between joking and bullying. There are parts of this story that a lot of people are missing.
During the Academy Award show, Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia. He said “I’m looking forward to GI Jane 2.” This pokes fun at Jada’s shaved head. She chose to shave her head because she was losing her hair.
Jada Pinkett Smith has scarring alopecia. Scarring alopecia or cicatrices alopecia, is a collection of autoimmune hair loss disorders that may be diagnosed in up to 3% of people who suffer from hair loss. Each specific diagnosis is rare.
Will Smith reacted by slapping Chris Rock and saying,”Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
Something About Will Smith Not Many Considered
Will Smith is neurodivergent. He has ADHD. Quotes from Smith about ADHD:
“I was the fun one who had trouble paying attention.”
“Today they’d diagnose me as a child with ADHD.”
“I was a B student who should’ve been getting A’s-classic under acheiver.”
“It was hard for me to read an entire book in two weeks.”
“Today I buy a book and have someone read it for me on tape!”
Why is this important?
One characteristic of ADHD is being impulsive. As someone who has ADHD, this has gotten me in trouble more times than I care to admit.
Impassivity is action without foresight. People would speak without raising their hand, interrupt people when talking, get up out of their desk, etc. Slapping Chris Rock was an act of impulse. No one will argue that.
There is also laughing when someone doesn’t find something funny. A lot of neurodivergents do this. The NT’s call it laughing at in appropriate times. For example, Bug hurt his arm and when he was in pain, he would laugh. The pediatrician would tell us he wasn’t in pain and dismissed him. Luckily for Bug, I called the office and they said they had a lot of complaints about him and fired him. He saw another doctor and was treated appropriately.
Right after Will Smith did this, he immediately apologized for it. Right after a ND person yes something impulsive, there is an overwhelming feeling of guilt.
The public is holding him to neurotypical standards and this isn’t right. He isn’t neurotypical.
Not the First Time Chris Rock Took a Shot at Jada
He has been making Jada Pinkett Smith a punchline in his jokes. When Chris Rock hosted the Oscars in 2016, he said,”Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”
This was misogenistic and uncalled for. Smith was at his breaking point. He showed the the is human just like the rest of us.
Rooted in Racism
Hair has been a part of the worth of a woman for a long time. Black women have grown up spending a fortune on hair care products to avoid “short nappy hair.” Racism and patriarchy have taught Black women and made them believe that thier natural beauty was ugly, undesirable and needed to be changed in order to fit in.
Rock’s words are feeding into this harmful rhetoric about natural hair.
Jada not wearing wigs and weaves shows the word that it is ok to step out in your authentic bald self. This should be celebrated, not ridiculed.
Chris Rock Has No Idea
He has no idea what it is like to have a chronic illness or condition that effects your appearance and be bullied for it for your entire life. I have PCOS. That is Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I have it to a degree where one ultrasound and I was diagnosed.
I have male pattern hair growth, I am overweight due to an increase in testosterone which also causes insulin resistance. The signs have been visible since I started puberty. I was not only bullied at school but at home too. My grand mother asked my mother,”Do you only have enough food for one child?”
I was bullied to the point where I attempted suicide.
The blatant ableism in this situation no one is addressing. Jada’s hair style is not a choice, she is losing hair due to an autoimmune illness. Hair loss is a symptom of PCOS that I do not have. Jada, you are beautiful and a warrior. Keep up the good work. There is also the ableism of holding Will Smith to neurotypical standards.
Yes Chris Rock is a comedian, but there has to be a line you never cross. Never make fun of someone’s condition. Ever.
Jada said one thing about this situation,”This is the season for healing and I am here for it.”