So let me start by saying that I am not wise enough to know what was in Will Smith’s heart and mind when he did what he did. As a consequence, I offer no judgment. What I do offer is an insight that tells me he forgot who he was. Fame, fortune, and a sense of entitlement overshadowed some realities which may have resulted in a different outcome. Real talk: he is a black man about to be honored by a white man’s organization for excellence in performance. He is being honored in a production that is for the first time in history being produced by another black man. His show of force was designed to humiliate yet another black man who chose not to humiliate him by letting the LAPD escort him from the premises following his assault. It seems that Chris Rock, despite his mean spirited humor, realized who he was at just the right time.
His wife, on the other hand, did not seem to realize the power she wielded in the situation. She obviously did not realize that she might have reminded him before he reacted that you can win a battle and lose the war when you employ a losing strategy. A touch of the hand and a soft reply might have reassured him that some things are best left alone until the time is right to respond.
Consider how Supreme Court Justice-to-be Kentanji Brown Jackson responded to blatant disrespect of the highest order. She remembered who she was during the entire debacle, never responding in kind and preserving her dignity throughout. Despite the haters, she will emerge from the testing with honor. They never saw her sweat. And the tears she shed were not in the midst of an apology; rather they were an acknowledgement of a beautiful and heartfelt affirmation.
Judge Jackson will experience the joy of walking into her destiny, having earned the recognition and elevation she will receive. Despite the fact that Will Smith deserved the Oscar he received, pettiness will accompany the circumstances associated with it, and forever diminish the joy it should have brought to him and his family.
The lesson here is this: Never forget who you are! It can cause you to react in a manner which is out of character. It can make what others say about you matter more than what you know about yourself. And, sadly, it can result in unforeseen negative consequences.