Forbes, you have got to be trolling us. Seriously. Someone observed Monday that Forbes now has a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion banner, and it looks like they’re milking it. As Twitchy reported Monday, Forbes published a piece on Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars written by Janice Gassam Asare, who “helps create strategies for more diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Asare’s take was that jokes are always made at the expense of black women, and she then proceeded to cite the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson as evidence. We must have missed the jokes.

On the same day, Maia Niguel Hoskin published her take on Will Smith under Forbes’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion banner. While talking about Will Smith’s behavior, she says, don’t forget to discuss the “white supremacist respectability politics” that helped make it happen.

No, really, you didn’t have to give your two cents. Hoskin writes:

[Smith] also shared that he has had to turn the other cheek in previous incidents in which he felt disrespected throughout his career, “You gotta smile you gotta pretend like that’s OK,” he said. Well, I suppose last night, The Fresh Prince was fed up. And perhaps, rightfully so. I do not condone violence, nor do I think hauling off and slapping the taste out of Rock’s mouth was the ideal reaction. But I do have empathy for a man who works in an industry that promotes stepin and fetchit politics and asks for Blacks and other people of color to grin and bear experiences of embarrassment and degradation or risk being labeled as angry or aggressive.

This is not about Will Smith and Chris Rock being Black or Will Smith “setting Black people back” or any other overly claims that I have heard in response to last night’s incident. This is about a much larger systemic issue rooted in White supremacist culture designed to police the behavior of Blacks amongst the who’s who in Hollywood and beyond. Respectability politics suggest that equity and fair treatment require that Black people — both inside and outside of Hollywood — conduct ourselves in a manner deemed acceptable to Whites. Furthermore, expressing any emotion other than complacence, apathy, or agreeance directly violates those norms, disqualifying us from receiving the same equitable treatment that Whites enjoy as a birthright. And sadly, there is a large group of Black folks who have internalized this toxic messaging.

Hoskin has a Ph.D. but in what her bio doesn’t say. Why are they always professors?

It’s honestly difficult to pick the worst take we’ve seen on the Will Smith/Chris Rock dustup. Smith assaulted Rock, who was big enough not to file charges. Smith is awarded his Oscar and walks. “I’m not saying I approve of violence, but ….”


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