Out of the Mouth of Babes – In Defense of Willow and Jaden

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.


It is very disturbing that all of the people criticizing Jaden and Willow’s remarks are adults who have had their own growing up time and opportunity to question the meaning of life. “Will” we deny these two the time that we so eagerly enjoyed or squandered? These are two teenagers who are still finding themselves. They’re extremely confident and know what they want to do in life and that’s beautiful. Would we rather they were uncommunicative, violent and socially aggressive? So what they are rich if their parents paid dues, why should they? I see people today in our face living off of the work of their great grandparents and standing on the accomplishments of their families so why can’t Willow and Jaden begin their journeys in life with advantages that most Black young children will never have.

Don’t get me wrong I too find some of what they share and say straight up annoying but I am not so frightened by difference that I would reject a honest dialogue. Remember the Times article consists of a series of questions that the duo are answering. Questions like that are going to get a certain kind of answer no matter how normal you are. What’s “normal” anyway and who gets to decide, the media? The very silliness of celebrity has gotten overshadowed by the silliness of celebrity media. No thanks, I would much rather make up my own mind. Considering that the prevailing image of Black youth in popular American media is of a “thug” it’s quite refreshing to have the contrast that the teen Smiths present. Let’s be real here when was the last time anyone in a public forum sat down with two Black kids to discuss “prana energy” and “the experience of time”? I’ll wait…….the answer is never. We should be absolutely ecstatic at the prospect that children who these journalists are usually denigrating are being interviewed.

Once you witness A cycle enough times you step out of it.

Jaden Smith

An overseas periodical had the audacity to state that Will Smith would never get away with that in West Philadelphia. As a born and raised New Yorker I am not sure what is “allowed” in Philadelphia but I am pretty sure that London is not the go to source for what is appropriate for urban Black kids living in America. Sentiments that echo the policing by some publications like, “this is what happens when you don’t beat your kids” and “they should plunge headlong into crack and meth addiction now and spare us the wait” is the very reason I felt compelled to defend Jaden and Willows right and privilege to self-expression. Yes, the Smith kids are privileged just like hundreds of children who happen to not look like the siblings. But we don’t see the same rampant rejection of their underserved advantage by the status quo. i.e. Paris and Hilton, and Kelly Osborne. The general public should be leery of narratives that tell us who is worthy of the constitutional promise of the “pursuit of happiness” and who isn’t. The snide opinions of adults who have neither lived their lives and who obviously would be so much more comfortable with the “no angel” tag that the Times labeled the murdered 17 year old Mike Brown, shouldn’t be controlling the prevailing narrative. It’s imperative that we keep a balanced word out there considering the overwhelmingly positive reporting that other young talented children and teens receive from these same publications. An example of the glaring difference in journalistic temperament is the reporting about Autumn de Forest an 11 year old art prodigy, the overdone praising of Lorde and the buzz that surrounds the new face of L’Oreal Kendall Jenner.

When Jaden Smith asks, “what is your job, what’s your career?” He is expounding a legitimate question especially when you take into account the stress and exploitive amount of debt young Americans incur attempting to get an education. Spoiler Alert!: “All teenagers think they’re unique, clever and profound.” They are just normal kids in that respect. I honestly believe that this should be the general response from the media instead of this pervasive need to “other” them. One of the things that make young children so special is that they have a capacity for self-expression that most adults get forced out of them by the high cost of living in the world. Some adults believe that the only way for Willow and Jaden to learn “their” place is by people, “highlighting the error of their ways”. It’s almost as though these two are so irreconcilable that the mundanes are desperate for them to turn out like all the “normal” Hollywood kids. Our reaction to these kids says more about us than it does about them. I guess it’s only okay to be divergent in the movies. (Kanye shrug)

I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please.

Willow Smith

Nowadays, the responsibility of adult life squeezes all the vestiges of creativity and free thinking from our lives. What would any of us give to feel like we could still make time go as fast and as slow as we felt? To be honest, the 6:30am alarm would never ring! Lol!

Now, imagine a world where the most innocent of us, children are no longer “allowed” to dream.


photo credit: www.usmagazine.com

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