Rolling Out

We owe Will Smith award for Best Black Stand Up, like Sidney Poitier stood up

We owe Will Smith award for Best Black Stand Up, like Sidney Poitier stood up
Actor Sidney Poitier (Photo credit: / Paul Smith, Featureflash)

Will Smith was the talk of the 94th Academy Awards after he walked on stage to slap comedian Chris Rock minutes before winning his first Oscar.

Smith smacked Rock after the host of the award show made a joke about Smith wife’s lack of hair. Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, announced in December she suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss. When Smith returned to his seat, he twice yelled at Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his “f—ing mouth.”

When Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Richard Williams in King Richard, the film about the vision Venus and Serena Williams’ father had for the tennis legends, he spoke about how loving someone will make you do “crazy things.” When Smith smacked Rock, he fought back against all of the comments and jokes he’s heard about his personal life over the last two years. When Pinkett Smith confessed to an “entanglment” with August Alsina, people memed Smith’s face. The Fresh Prince has been the butt of people’s jokes for many months and when he smacked Rock, he finally stood his ground.

It’s a similar to the first Black man to win an Oscar with Sidney Poitier back in the 1960s. Poitier accomplished the feat in 1964, but in 1967’s In the Heat of the Night, he slapped a White character Endicott, played by Larry Gates. Gates’ character slapped Poitier first before the legendary actor returned the favor.

“There was a time where I could have had you shot,” Endicott told Poitier’s character after the slap.

YouTube video

It was a moment in Hollywood history where a Black man demanded respect, similar to how the Oscars’ latest best actor did.

Smith’s smack is a moment that has drawn discussion among the Black community on whether it was a bad look for Black people, like Stephen A. Smith claims, or an opportunity to salute a family man defending his own like Tiffany Haddish did. Whether or not anyone agrees with the timing or place, Smith demanded respect, and respect he has earned.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:
Also read
Rolling Out