LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 25: Jada Pinkett Smith at the 2017 BET Awards at Staples Center on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET) ORG XMIT: 700070971 ORIG FILE ID: 800831054 (Photo: Paras Griffin, Getty Images for BET)
Jada Pinkett Smith has a big issue with the feminist movement.
“One of the reasons why I have such a difficult time with the feminist movement – why I don’t call myself a feminist and I call myself a ‘womanist’ instead – is because of the history of the feminist movement,” Smith said in an episode of “Red Table Talk” Monday. “How the feminist movement began and how the DNA still exists and how it’s still focused on, really, middle class white women.”
Smith co-hosts the Facebook Watch series with daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield Norris to provide perspectives from three different generations. This week, the family also welcomed “Red Table Talk” producer Annie Price and diversity educator Jane Elliott to discuss how white women can work to become better allies for women of color.
“I feel like a lot of white women feel like race is not an issue for them,” Smith said. “The thing that breaks my heart is that white women understand what it feels to be oppressed… what it feels to be ostracized or not being treated as equal.”
Each family member’s experiences had generational differences – Banfield Norris recalled stores in town being segregated as a child; Smith is barely old enough to remember life before Barack Obama became president – but all agreed more work needed to be done to bridge differences and reach understanding between women of color and white women.
“I wish sometimes the world could have more compassion for black women,” Pinkett Smith said. “We really haven’t had the luxury to have that more relaxed – not having to walk into the world with such an armor because of what we’re still dealing with.”
“I have to defend myself,” Smith added.
“And not ever being able to let that armor down,” Banfield Norris concluded.
Later on, Pinkett Smith shared experiences of being teased by white women about her own hair and appearance during her childhood.
“I have to admit, I’m guilty because I do have my own biases, specifically with blonde women,” she added. “Blonde hair on white women just triggers me and I’ve had to catch myself.”
She recalled being about to head into an interview with a blonde woman and suddenly reconsidering.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to do that.’ That was my first instinct because of how she looked,” Pinkett Smith said. “And I was like, ‘Ooh! That’s no different.’ That doesn’t give me the right to clump all blonde women in one.”