• Mr. C.

The Slap Seen Around the World

Updated: May 1

Glad to know nothing major is going on in the Hollywood scene these days.


Oh, wait.


I know everyone is overflowing with opinions about “…the greatest night in television history.” I wanted to take a few moments to share mine, given that I think it relates to not only the disability community but also what and how we teach our students to behave in school today.


I must preface my thoughts by saying I have been a fan of Chris Rock (all the way back from his “New Jack City” Pookie days) and also of Will Smith (from his days as a Walt-Disney type, satirical rapper of “Parents Just Don’t Understand”). In fact, I would venture to say, having heard Will Smith discuss the challenges and celebrations of life, his and his family’s, on internet broadcasts and shows, he is a great philosopher and one of the most inspiring people, I believe, of his generation.


That being said, what I saw lampooning the internet the last couple of days was nothing short of a classless response to a classless joke.


First, and last, Chris Rock’s joke was a poor and cruel exhibition and imploration for laughs. I was saddened to not only hear the joke, but to hear all the members of the crowd laugh at it, including Mr. “Bay Boys” himself, Will Smith (at least initially).


A joke at the expense of someone’s suffering is never okay.



I can relate to this because in the past I have been shunned, laughed at, mocked, joked about, and publicly humiliated by others for my Tourette’s symptoms, my stutter, my lazy eye, and my brain injury. This is not, and never should be, acceptable behavior in our society.


I think to make the joke ever more devastating for Jada was that it was suck a public affair at the expense of her suffering.



Now, onto the Fresh Prince: while I can certainly understand his reaction, having been a constant fighter as a child and young adult, his reaction was a poor reaction. When I look through my educator lens, I think about the endless amount of times students at recess have run up to me saying, “________said _______ about me!” My response is always the same. “Please ask ________nicely to please stop, that you do not like it when he says that, and you would like ______to be kind”


Unfortunately, I also have encountered numerous occurrences where students fight or one student hits another student, and it usually begins with one student saying something unkind to another student. But once it becomes physical, both students are sent to the principal’s office, and while the student who said something unkind might have a consequence, the student who was physically aggressive is doled a consequence, too.


I wished Mr. Will Smith, with his celebrity and role model status, had taken a “higher road” approach to address the misdeed committed by Mr. Chris Rock. What this road could have been, I am not sure. Maybe he storms on stage and instead of slapping Chris, he summons a mic and rebuts the joke with the seriousness and gravity of alopecia areata and the grief it can cause its sufferers.



I mean, he’s Will freakin’ Smith. He undoubtedly would have had a plethora of microphones and publicity after the show where he could have staunchly voiced his disregard for the joke. As an adult, we have to fight with our minds, not our hands. This is what we teach our kids, or at least what we should teach our kids.


Believe me, if I hit every person that remarked about my disabilities, I would be serving many life sentences for assault. Hollywood shouldn’t get you a pass on that, even if it did in this situation.


Big respect to Mr. Men in Black, Will Smith, for already publicly apologizing to Chris Rock and the world. Now, it’s time for Chris Rock to do the same.


Think before you speak; never speak before you think.



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