WARNING: This post contains explicit language.
Will Smith opened up about his experience with racism and police in Philadelphia.
The actor sat down for a conversation with Angela Rye on her podcast, On One With Angela Rye, on Tuesday and addressed the Black Lives Matter movement.
The 51-year-old actor spoke about facing racism at the hands of police in Philadelphia, saying, “I grew up in Philadelphia. I grew up under Mayor Rizzo. He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor, and he had an iron hand.”
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“I’ve been called n—– by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions,” the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star added. “I got stopped frequently. So I understand what it’s like to be in those circumstances with the police to feel like you’ve been occupied. It’s an occupying force.”
Smith explained that he attended a Catholic school in suburban Philadelphia, which opened his eyes to how Black communities are policed in comparison to predominantly white areas.
“White kids were happy when the cops showed up, and my heart always started pounding,” Smith shared. “There’s a part of this that people that don’t grow up in this, you just can’t comprehend. You just can’t comprehend what it feels like to feel like you live in an occupied territory”
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Smith continued, “The second part is I got two black sons driving around. So, when I saw this cop with his hands in his pockets I’m like, ‘What’s going on inside a person’s mind to just be able to do that to another person? For me it comes down to after you get beyond the rage. Rage is justified under oppression. It also can be really dangerous.”
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The actor was making reference George Floyd’s death while in custody of Minneapolis police. In the widely seen video, a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck while he hand his hands in his pockets. The officer did this for at least eight minutes while Floyd repeatedly said he could not breath.
Smith said people have to be “careful not to be consumed your own rage” and began to discuss the peaceful protests around the world in regards to racism and anti-police brutality.
“And that’s something that I’ve worked really hard on. What I love about the peaceful protests, it’s like peaceful protests put up a mirror to the demonic imagery of your oppressor. The more still you are in your peaceful protest, the more clear the mirror is to the oppressor for the world to see and for them to see themselves.”
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Smith said he was “really encouraged” to see “how powerfully this generation was able to hold that mirror.”
“We are in a circumstance that we’ve never been in before,” Smith added of the protests. “The entire globe has stood up and said to the African American people, ‘We see you and we hear you. How can we help?’ We’ve never been there before.”
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The Aladdin actor noted that people will still come across “people that have made poisonous conclusions and have false beliefs, and they’ve got insane narratives running through their minds.”
“I am pledging my unending devotion to the evolution of my community and the evolution of my country, and ultimately the world, towards the greatest harmony that we’ll be able to create,” Smith said. “I am happy to be alive during this time, and to serve.”
Watch the discussion in the video below.
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