Words Can Hurt People

By: Fidelis Osuoha | Contributor

On Mar. 27, 2022, the Academy Awards were held at the Dolby Theatre, and they were broadcasted on ABC. During the Oscars, Will Smith went up on stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face. This was after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada, comparing her hair to Demi Moore’s shaved head in the movie G.I. Jane. She recently revealed it was a result of her years-long struggle with alopecia.

Jada, who was also unamused, sat on her seat with an unimpressed reaction. At the same moment, the audience were shocked and surprised at seeing Will Smith strike Chris Rock. Back at his table, Smith started shouting expletives at Chris Rock from the audience.   

During his acceptance speech, Smith began to address the incident, then he apologized to the Academy and everyone else he knows, but he didn’t mention Rock in his apology until a few days later.

As a society, we often pick and choose which violence is acceptable and forget that what we might do is not necessarily what someone who doesn’t share our history will do.

People get fed up, they run out of patience, they see a moment of deep hurt on a loved one’s face, and they react. Will Smith should not have slapped Chris Rock, but he also shouldn’t have had to watch his wife’s illness be invoked for a joke. 

People who have been bullied sympathize with Smith’s impulse to avenge what he considered a mean joke at his wife’s appearance, which she attributes to hair loss triggered by a medical condition.

Others condemn his assault as an over-reaction that has detracted from what should have been a triumphal night for a large cast of minority performers. Some of the analysis of Smith’s behavior, both within the Black community and outside of it, suggested it furthered a stereotype that Black men are violent.

This reflects the significance for communities of color, who live with the cultural approval that a wrong act by one member of the community negatively represents the community. 

I know that people think it’s okay, but I think it makes them feel superior in the same way a bully feels superior about picking on a smaller person.

They should realize now that using someone’s weakness against them is not something that they should tolerate from anyone, and most definitely not from a friend or acquaintance. 

Offensive words can seriously hurt others at first, but I always motivate myself to be more conscious about the types of people surrounding me. I know who I am deep down and don’t let the people you give your time to make you question yourself or try to change you.