Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Kudos to Will Smith - He Gets It
In light of Rev. Joseph Lowrey's rather insulting conclusion to his inaugural prayer yesterday, I was heartened to read the following brief essay by actor Will Smith, submitted to USA Today. Unlike some of yesterday's civil rights leaders who seem intent on stoking ill will, Mr. Smith actually strikes the tone Rev. Lowrey should have struck. His comments are spot on. Let's hope and pray that he doesn't get his hide ripped off for being positive and conciliatory.
I am going to post them here in their entirety:
For me, it was something that I've always believed. I've read the Declaration of Independence. I've read the Constitution. I have the preamble memorized. It's something I've always believed in, and when Barack Obama won, it validated a piece of me that I wasn't allowed to say out loud - that America is not a racist nation.
I love that all of our excuses have been removed. African-American excuses have been removed. There's no white man trying to keep you down, because if he were really trying to keep you down, he would have done everything he could to keep Obama down. Yes, there are racist people who live here, absolutely. But they're not the majority anymore.
I'm an African American, and I was able to climb to a certain point in Hollywood. On that journey, I realized people weren't trying to stop me. Most people were trying to help me. Before Obama won the presidency, it was like, I'm the exception. Tiger is the exception. Michael Jordan is the exception. Bill Cosby is the exception. But there's something about being the leader of the free world, with every other position on earth below that. You can't argue with that. If Barack Obama can win the presidency of the United States, you can absolutely be the manager at Saks.
Come on. It was such a fantastic experience for me to be able to say out loud that I love America and not be called an Uncle Tom. That I can stand out, and I can say out loud that I love this country and not get funny looks.
I don't think we are African Americans, Irish Americans or Japanese Americans anymore. I think Americans are a new race of people. We are Americans of African descent. We are Americans of Irish descent.
It's a whole new world.
Again, I think Will Smith captured exactly what I was trying to say yesterday in my remarks about Rev. Lowrey, which some misconstrued to mean that I didn't think racism existed — as usual, a caricature of my meaning.
And to repeat my attitude toward Barack Obama himself. What opposition I might have to his policies has nothing to do with race. It's philosophy and theology. Is that clear enough?