By Jocelyn Jackson Williams | OBSERVER Columnist
Malcolm X famously said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.” This is a truth that is most often seen through the lens of how we are treated by others outside of the culture. This statement, however, remains just as true and significant in relation to how Black women are sometimes treated even within the culture, as well.
The release of her memoir, “Worthy,” found Jada Pinkett Smith in another firestorm of criticism and derision for the perceived affect her words have on Will Smith. Many folks are throwing their heads back in seeming exhaustion over it all. I have heard a laundry list of grievances against Jada. People have decided that Will is a victim and they have chosen to take offense on his behalf. And what is the offense? “Jada is embarrassing Will.” “Jada shares too much.” “Jada just needs to be quiet.”
“When Black women share their pain, trauma, and frustrations, it is sometimes met with skepticism, disdain, and contempt. The message that is sent is to just shut up and prioritize everybody else’s needs above your own, even if it comes at your own expense. What really bothers most of you is that Will continues to support her.” – Jada Pinkett Smith Is Not a Villain and Will Smith Is Not a Victim, Jemele Hill, YouTube.
It is a false narrative to say that Will Smith is a victim and Jada Pinkett Smith is a villain. This line of thought must come to an end. But for that to happen, there would have to be a concerted effort to think and do better on behalf of this Black woman. Every time Jada’s name is drug through the mud, culturally we would have to recognize that the mudslinging sends a message to all Black women that our voice and experiences are only acceptable to the point that they are not inconvenient for the man in our life. Socially, it requires a shift in our collective consciousness to value critical thinking over our cherished opinions; it requires valuing support and uplifting others over gossip.
When we’re able to do so, we view Jada through a lens of making a contribution to our lives in the midst of her flaws. I believe both Jada and Will have been trying their best to get us to grieve the rose-colored glasses we chose to see them through, so they can be their authentic selves and share what they have learned to be most important. And if we are humble enough to glean from them what we can, there is a lesson for all the single people who desire to be in a committed relationship someday and for all the married people who would like to find more satisfaction in their present relationship: Romantic love is a phase. It will and should come to an end. It makes way for real love.
It sounds blasphemous, but it’s true. Most pre-marital classes skip this important point. ‘Before two people decide to tie the knot, they need to be aware that perhaps the first grief they confront together as a couple is the ending of their romance,’ a reference from How To Be An Adult in Relationships by David Richo. When we believe that romance is a mainstay of the relationship, someone must be at fault when it ends. Instead, we can learn that romance makes way for commitment. This is a commitment that extends beyond how the other person makes you look and feel. This commitment is mature as it is a love for the person, flaws and all. The depth of marriage allows you to be a mirror for your partner where you see and reflect what is unresolved within them; that person can then be about their business of their healing with your support.
Rick Ross said he used to think of Will and Jada as the Kobe and Shaq of successful relationships; he is upset that Jada has tarnished Will’s image and now Ross questions whether marriage is worthwhile. If the truth of their marriage has dashed other people’s hopes in the superficial representations of relationships, that’s a good thing. Instagram inspired relationship goals give us a flash of excitement but are ultimately harmful shots of disinformation. I am grateful to Jada for feeding us a healthy dose of the truth.
Jocelyn Jackson Williams is a published author and one of only ten Certification Trainers in the country, and the only person of color, of the Grief Recovery Method. She is passionate about issues surrounding love, life, and loss in the Black community. You can connect with her on Instagram, TikTok and Threads: @jocelyn_takes_on