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Everybody Loves Will: Smith on TikTok

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Everybody Loves Will: Smith on TikTok

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A flash essay by John S. Blake, “Everybody Loves Will: Smith on TikTok,” about Will Smith’s recent TikTok video responding to a question about letting fans down with “the slap.”

Today, I woke up in what I believed to be the same hellish existence—as a black queer man, with far-left politics, scorching in the hot mess that is the United States: more black bodies being buried by police violence, Conservatives still doing their best to turn American women into caged birds, and, of course, Joe Rogan.

Then, an amazing thing happened. I came across the TikTok page of Will Smith. Let me first say, I’ve been stannin’ that man since “Brand New Funk.” When he committed the slap heard around the world, I stirred myself into a strange blend of pride and disappointment. No, I don’t think it was right, but, for the first time, I felt proud that he let loose.

Will Smith has been towing the line, making people smile, and bringing light to the world 24/7 since I can remember. I was relieved to see his humanity. I was never angry at him, mostly because, in my life, I’ve done much worse. I was in no position to judge this man, but I digress …

Also on The Big Smoke

Mr. Smith had taken questions from followers and answered hard questions on the spot, no matter how uncomfortable he was. There were a number of questions, but this one stood out.

“What would you say to the people who looked up to you before the slap, or people who expressed that you let them down?”

He didn’t react at first; no side-eye, raised eyebrow, or grimace.

“So there’s two things. One, disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down. So, it hurts. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me. And the work I’m trying to do is … I am deeply remorseful, and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. Right? I’m human. I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit. So, I would say to those people, ‘I know it was confusing. I know it was shocking, but I promise you, I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world, and, you know, if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.’”

I needed every word.

As a person who has been drowning in the sea of shame, I know how absolutely vulnerable and courageous of a statement this was. To be completely transparent, I forgave him as he walked back to his seat, the face of Chris Rock still singed with fuck around and find out! I can’t remember the last time a black man risked everything to stand up for a black woman.

I needed every word. … As a person who has been drowning in the sea of shame, I know how absolutely vulnerable and courageous of a statement this was.

His words were the most sincere—no teleprompter, no script, just on-the-spot responses. He was holding. Holding back tears, perhaps, to ensure his statement was easy to understand; perhaps, because his humility demanded he save his tears for another time because this moment wasn’t about him, it was about his fans.

In a nation choking on class, race, sex, gender, and especially individualism, today, Will Smith was the only star in my sky. I truly admire his action. He didn’t have to do this to save his career.      His family endlessly supports him. He’d still get my dough at any theater for his next flick. This move to connect to his higher self was for one reason only—so that he could respect himself.

I sobbed. I sobbed because, in a nation and an era where men seemingly do whatever the fuck they want and expect accolades for it, Will is just a blessing.

Will, I forgive you, and I know I speak for millions around the world. Do you, fam. And in the words of the immortal Heavy D, “I got nuttin’ but love for ya.”


Replying to @deadpool_01fan I have, and i’ve been thinking about it a lot

♬ original sound – Will Smith


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John S. Blake

John S. Blake is a cisgender, African American writer, poet, activist, and youth advocate originally from New York City and now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Blake is a VCU Grad, MFA student at Sierra Nevada University, Watering Hole Graduate Fellow, TEDx speaker, essayist for The Big Smoke America, spoken word artist, as well as a literacy tutor, lecturer, and mentor. Blake facilitates workshops, lectures, and performs nationwide: universities, high schools, middle schools, detention centers, prisons, and youth programs.

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