Monday, June 3, 2013

Will Smith Said What?!

There are some famous people who use their fame as a platform to promote their causes, agendas and opinions. Some make poignant statements on a national stage, and positively affect all of those who count them as influential. Others make statements that they think are poignant because they believe that they are among those who are influential. Guess which category Will Smith falls into?

When I heard that his son Jaden had asked to be emancipated at age 15, I thought that it was absurd. But I decided not to write about it. It has always been apparent to me that both Will and his wife were part of some "new age" parenting/marriage nonsense. Letting their 10-year-old daughter cut her hair into some kind of wild abstract sculpture in the name of self expression and Jada Pinkett Smith making ambiguous statements about their marriage being "open" were clear signs of some sort of odd dysfunction in my opinion. I realize that the term "odd dysfunction" may sound like an oxymoron but, it's a fitting description. 

The only thing that puzzles me more than their family philosophy is the fact that they have some how become a shining example of the all American family. They have even been recognized and idolized by some in the African-American community because of their ability to maintain a marriage and a cohesive unit. It seems as If maintaining a marriage these days is defined by nothing more than just staying married. It is a sad state of affairs when just being anything is the standard. The quality and substance of the subject no longer seems to matter.

The dangerous thing about this is the fact that putting someone or something on a pedestal based on "fluff" is that sooner or later they'll start to believe that they actually belong there. They start to believe that they have the answers to the mystery of life, and can solve the riddle of the sphinx. They began to believe that their way of being is absolute gospel. When in reality, their pseudo-intellectual musing amounts to nothing more than narcissistic grandiosity void of all substance.

In a recent interview Will Smith decided to expand his scope on parenting beyond the Smith household to a few observations on African American parenting in general. 

"My style of parenting is very similar to that of my parents, minus the concept of ownership. I think that, specifically in African American households, the idea coming out of slavery, there’s a concept of your children being property and that was a major part that Jada and I released with our kids. We respect our children the way we would respect any other person. Things like cleaning up their room. You would never tell a full-grown adult to clean their room, so we don’t tell our kids to clean their rooms. Actually, we tell our kids ‘you don’t have a room, that’s our room and we are letting you borrow it.’ So the same way you would say to an adult if you let them use car, you say, ‘Yo man, clean my car! Don’t drive around all filthy like that!’ And it’s perfectly reasonable for you to want an adult to clean your car, so we feel it’s perfectly reasonable to ask our kids to clean the rooms that we are letting them use.”

Firstly, to state that African-American's have a monopoly on the concept of owning their children is a total falsehood. That particular attitude amongst parents cannot, and should not be contributed to one race of people, as if to suggest that our behavior is extreme. 

If we must equate this behavior to anything having to do with slavery. It is my belief that African-Americans may be a little more protective of their children because of the fact that a little over a century ago African-American children were often ripped from their parents arms and sold as property, never to be seen again. Many of them did not take for granted that they had a lifetime to train their children in the way that they should go.

With that being said, this bitter legacy has spawned a tradition of parenting that is unique. Based on a strict system of values needed to navigate their way through the world. A world in which many of those racist attitudes have stood the test of time.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith have the right to raise their children any way that they please but to imply that their way is the right way is nothing short of pompous and arrogant. The truth is, all parents are not equipped to be parents. We all have short comings, and none of us are perfect parents, but we don't claim to be. If you not only raise your children, but cultivate them, discipline them, guide them, and TELL them what they need to do. Then perhaps they will not want to emancipate themselves at age 14 because they have already been allowed to make adult decisions. So much so that they think that they are already grown. A child should not be allowed to make decisions that they are not mature enough to make, and not experienced enough to have an analytical thought process. We do not treat our children like adults because.........they are not adults.


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