One interesting thing about the debate we’re all having about Will Smith smacking Chris Rock during the Oscars 2020 award show is how little of the discussion revolves around how Jada Pinkett-Smith felt about Rock’s joke. We all saw her reaction. We saw the “now, why am I in this?” look mixed with a profound tint of clear hurt and embarrassment. Whether Will was putting on airs or not by hitting that Oscars stage…and then Rock, we know that there are a million loving husbands out there who, if they had seen that same look on their wives’ faces, would have been ready to throw hands.
At the very center of this story is how Jada felt at that moment, and we’re not really talking about that. It’s probably because we’re not bothering to look at this story through the lens of someone who grapples with an ailment that changes the way they look.
Maybe we should be asking more Black women who live with alopecia how they feel about what happened Sunday night.
Oh sh**, you know who has alopecia? Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
According to Politico, following the smack heard around the world and beyond (and by “beyond” I mostly mean Twitter), Pressley tweeted her response to the debacle. She praised Smith’s actions while reminding everyone that the autoimmune condition is real and jokes about it are trash.
“#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults,” Pressley wrote.
Now, at some point, Pressley must have remembered she’s a whole lawmaker and she can’t be out here consigning what could’ve been an assault and battery charge, so she deleted the tweet. But on Monday, she went back to Twitter to express her views in a way that doesn’t make her look like she’s endorsing an open-hand fade on live TV.
“My life’s work has always been about trauma & healing. I’m a survivor – I don’t endorse violence in any form,” Pressley tweeted. “Let’s talk about what it’s like to live with #alopecia. The deeply vulnerable & difficult moments that our families see. Appreciation post for those who hold us down & support us when we’re at our lowest points. They see us, fully. #IYKYK”
“Our bodies are not public domain,” she continued. “They are not a line in a joke—especially when the transformation is not of our choosing. I’m a survivor of violence. I’m a proud Alopecian. The psychological toll we carry daily is real. Team Jada always. That’s that on that.”
And there you have it. “Team Jada.”
“Team Will” and “Team Chris” have been the trend. That’s the debate we’re having. But who’s on Jada’s team? Who’s really on “Team Ayanna” for that matter? Who’s on the side of everyone who’s engaging with the controversy while suffering autoimmune diseases? While grappling with the ways their bodies changed due to a condition? While living with alopecia and thinking about all the Chris Rocks out there making their lives that much more difficult?
Maybe—just maybe this is about more than whether Will should have smacked Cris or not.