Despite being the child of two Hollywood veterans and being highly talented herself, Willow Smith says she’s never felt like she belonged. During a recent episode of “Red Table Talk,” which aired on Tuesday, Oct. 13, on Facebook Watch, the singer spoke candidly about how her and her brother Jaden Smith felt rejected by the Black community for being different.
“Specifically with the African American community, I kind of felt like me and Jaden were shunned a little bit, like, ‘We’re not gonna take pride in them because they’re too different,'” Willow revealed during the roundtable discussion. The episode covered the topic of mom-shaming with co-host and mom Jada Pinkett-Smith and Willow’s grandmother Adrienne Banfield Norris. She added, “Even some of our family members, I would feel they thought, ‘You’re too different.’ “
Willow’s grandmother agreed with her comments saying, “We do have a way within the community that we expect our kids to be raised, like how you behave, how you carry yourself.” Jada added, “But there are different ways that can be successful.”
Willow’s comments about the community’s judgment came shortly after her mother shared her first-hand experience with mom shaming. The Hollywood star said the first time she got “hardcore” mom-shamed was when Willow, now 19, shaved her head at the age of 11. Willow said the dramatic hair transformation was an act of rebellion following the success of her 2010 hit, “Whip My Hair.” She would eventually dye her hair green and later pink.
Jada explained that the criticism didn’t just stop at Willow. The “Set It Off” star also received backlash as Jaden got older, more specifically when the young rapper wore a skirt for Louis Vuitton’s 2016 womenswear campaign. “When he was wearing a skirt, then he isn’t what people consider your ‘typical Black man,’ ” Jada said.
Jaden, who had often pushed the envelope when it came to his choice of fashion, ultimately responded to the backlash with a Twitter post stating, “If I wanna wear a dress, then I will, and that will set the new wave…”
Jada later noted on “RTT” that people within the Black community “created stereotypes around ourselves,” which she said contributed to the negative comments she received regarding her parenting. “It’s something that we as a community really have to learn how to let go of,” the actress said. “I know that people felt like: ‘It’s dangerous. You cannot afford to raise your children this way because it’s dangerous. You know what it’s like to be a Black or brown person in this world. You are doing your kids a disservice.’ “
She added, “I understood where that fear came from, but I also understood from having been on the streets and having had been not your ‘conventional Black girl’ in the streets of Baltimore, I knew that self-confidence is what helped me survive.”