Unfortunately, having a strained relationship with law enforcement is something that is typical for Black people in America. Although this fact is getting a signal boost with current Black Lives Matter action, it’s not a new reality. This moved Will Smith to explain that he’s also been the victim of racial prejudice at the hands of police officers.
During a conversation with political commentator Angela Rye that premiered this week, the entertainer revealed that he’s been called a “n****r” by police on multiple occasions.
“I grew up under, you know, Mayor Rizzo. He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor and he had an iron hand,” Smith said at the video’s three-minute mark. “I’ve been called n****r by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions, right? I got stopped frequently. So, I understand what it’s like, you know, to be in those circumstances with the police, to feel like you’ve been occupied. It’s an occupying force.”
Smith went on to explain that he went to a Catholic school in suburban Philadelphia. This allowed him to see the difference in the way Black communities are policed when compared to predominantly white areas.
“White kids were happy when the cops showed up, and my heart always started pounding,” Smith continued. “There’s a part of this that people that don’t grow up in this, you just can’t comprehend.”
Will told Rye this was his first real conversation about race relations in America since George Floyd‘s death. He found it necessary to speak on the situation because he knows class and status don’t overpower racism in America.
“I got two black sons,” Will said. “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?'”
The actor also spoke about the peaceful protests and the “seismic shift” that was created due to people seeking change. Watch Will Smith’s entire conversation with Angela Rye above.