Will Smith and Angela Rye Talk Social Change During Social Distancing

From the Men in Black films to the Bad Boys franchise, Will Smith has delivered some compelling big-screen entertainment. Smith also produces an eclectic selection of video content for fans via his YouTube channel. His episodes, which inform, entertain, and engage viewers, are stamped with Smith’s unique personal brand.

The entertainer recently posted a piece called “A conversation on being Black in America with Angela Rye.” In the video, renowned political analyst and commentator Rye lobbed questions at Smith, probing his views on the George Floyd video, peaceful protests, and social change amid social distancing.

Will Smith
Will Smith | VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Will Smith thought of his sons after watching the George Floyd viral video

Floyd died after Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes, ignoring his pleas for air. Three other officers were on the scene but provided no aid to the man. Floyd was added to a long list of Black Americans who have died in police custody.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Chauvin and his trio of colleagues now face up to 40 years in prison. Smith spoke candidly about Floyd’s death and the worldwide protests that were ignited as a result.

“I’ve got two Black sons driving around,” said Smith, “So when I saw this cop with his hands in his pockets, I’m like, what is going on inside of a person’s mind to just be able to do that to another person.”

Will Smith is ‘deeply encouraged’ by peaceful protests

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Floyd’s death set off a series of demonstrations around the country and the world. The events also reignited anger over police brutality and the pattern of Black people being killed while in police custody.

Smith noted that “rage is justified under oppression.” But he cautioned “not to be consumed by your own rage.” And that is one reason he is “deeply encouraged” by the peaceful protestors.

“Peaceful protests put up a mirror to the demonic imagery of your oppressor,” Smith remarked, “And the more still you are in your peaceful protests, the more clear the mirror is to the oppressor.”

Will Smith pondered social change during social distancing

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While Floyd wasn’t the first Black person to die in police custody, the circumstances under which citizens of the world witnessed the event were extraordinary. The video of Floyd’s encounter with police went viral during the COVID-19 pandemic in which much of the globe was under self-quarantine, isolation, or stay-at-home orders.

In other words, the Floyd video was released to a relatively captive audience during a time when folks had the time to pay attention and take action. Hence, an era of dramatic social change was sparked during social distancing. Smith commented on the unique conditions that precipitated the protests, saying this:

It’s like everybody was sitting at home looking at their devices when what felt like a new atrocity to some people was happening over and over again for African Americans. And for this to happen in this time for the whole world to see what we’ve been saying for hundreds of years. My grandmother taught me to try to be thankful for these times, and these opportunities, to try to be thankful for your pain. And we are in a circumstance that we’ve never been before. 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.

Will Smith on YouTube

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