Is He Right? Smith Says Slavery Makes Black People See Their Kids as Property

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Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are known for their unique parenting techniques.  Their kids earn more money than most adults, so it appears to be working.  But if one of the kids ever goes off the ranch and makes really bad decisions, critics are going to be standing there waiting to say something about it.

This week, the couple who famously alluded that they have an open marriage shared more of their parenting perspectives with the world.   Will is on tour with his son to promote his new film, “After Earth,” and talked a bit about his parenting philosophy. In an interview withHaute Living magazine, Smith discusses some of the things that you might have been curious about.

One of the more interesting perspectives Will has on parenting relates to his fellow African Americans.  Smith seems to believe that black people see their kids as property, and that slavery is the cause of this belief.

 “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,” he said. 

We certainly hope that Will isn’t saying that we should raise our kids like white people.  You know, that little kid who cusses his mother out in the grocery store and gets hooked on drugs in college because he’s never been taught responsibility?

Will goes on to say that his whole comment about his son Jaden seeking emancipation from his parents was just a big joke.

“Yeah, that was a joke! I made a joke. He is definitely not going anywhere; he is so scared of being out on his own. Willow is probably going to be emancipated before Jaden! I think I was in Tokyo where I made a joke that if he has a day where his movie is bigger than one of mine then there’s no reason for him to live in my house. His 15th birthday is coming up so he can probably be emancipated.”

One really powerful thing that Smith said is that he encourages his children to have very big dreams.  He says that if you set modest goals, you can end up feeling disappointed when you reach the goals, because you’ve then run out of things to do.

“I was just saying to Jaden and his friends the other day to make sure their dreams are impossible, because they have to sustain them for a lifetime. My dream was that I want to be the biggest movie star in the world and I set out to just make big movies. But the worst thing that can happen is that you actually get to where you wanted to go. Three years ago, I had Hancock and I Am Legend in a six-month period and I felt complete. And then I was like ‘Uh-oh,’ and had to really go back to the drawing board of my dreams. I even realized that material world dreams are dangerous. You have to be really careful with material world dreams on both sides: achieving them and not achieving them.”

Do you think Will and Jada have a healthy approach to parenting?

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51 Comments

  1. Yes, white kids cuss their parents out and get on drugs but they also grow up and finish college and get that high paying job. Black kids…well, they don't do those things. At least not enough of them.

  2. Monique Davis on

    This is a very ignorant and biased piece. Just as all black kids aren't thugs, in jail or illiterate, not all white kids cuss out their parents, run wild in public and generally embarrass their family with their actions. I do agree that many black parents hold their kids back from being expressive and creative out of fear. It's time we released that fear and allow our kids to be who they are and respect that. The fact that this article equates allowing a child some freedom (age-appropriate) with disrespect says a lot about the mentality of child-rearing that still plagues our community and culture.

  3. That “raise them like white kids” with references to drugs, cussing, and dropping out of college was in very poor taste. Last time I checked, we – as African-Americans – don’t hold the record for good parenting. All people, regardless of race, have the choice on how to raise their children. Some people – not races – do a better job than others.

  4. I was raised by my no-nonsense, single mom who guided, directed, and protected me (with the Heavenly Father's help), and I and my siblings finished high school and pursued our post-secondary and secular careers. None of us are on drugs or locked up, but at the same time, my mom made it very clear to all of us that she was NOT our friend. She was our parent. She respected us, but she was the one running the household. Loved us? To death. But there were just certain things we weren't doing until we were of legal age and working. I say that to say this: run your household and raise your kids accordingly; every parenting style doesn't work for every family. But black parents who choose to raise their children "ol' school" shouldn't be criticized for doing so. I turned out fine. Besides, once upon a time, Mr. Smith himself indicated to his oldest that he'd "tap that butt if you get outta line".

  5. Malik Emir EL on

    Yes, Will Smith is very correct in his statement. Children are property of the state, more so the federal government. So called Black people have understood this more so than Europeans because they have their cultural names and Blacks were given Slave name and striped of their culture. its stems from the BIRTH CERTIFICATE which actually puts the child into a contract with the government, by signing the BIRTH CERTIFICATE the mother and father gives their rights up of the child and the child then becomes a ward of the state. The mother and father is given the right to raise the child under the over site of the state. A trust fund is then created under the Social security act which gives the child a tax ID NUMBER which makes them a corporate slave. This program of corporate slavery was developed in 1933 under the Roosevelt Administration during the depression. but more so when the birth certificate became a legal document to and a bond to trade the labor of the American people to pay the debt for borrowing money from the international banking. The only collateral the U.S. had to bargain with was the labor of the people, so Will Smith is a very wise brother in this case.

    • You are 100% correct in your knowledge; however that is certainly not the direction whitewashed Will went with it. Both Jada & Will are deeply buried and extremely comfortable under the mental hold of the blanco world, its even more evident through their kids.

  6. The statement generalizing white kids as cussing out their parents and getting strung out on drugs because they weren’t taught responsibility is completely out of line. Have you visited any inner city ghetto recently? No white kids there.

  7. Well damn especially when you have a leg up on others because of affiliation. I personally like Will and Jada, I just wish they keep their business to themselves. Just continue to pray your children stay aligned with what’s right because the bottom line they are still very young and a many of rich, so called had it all has fell by the waist side. I wish them the best.

  8. Most black parents treat their children with that slave mentality! Who says a parent cant be a child best friend? That’s the best friend you have. Then they want to beat the sh!t out of them when they do something wrong. When we did something we put under punishment. My brother use to say he he rather be whipped than go under punishment so he could get it over with.
    Beating the sh!t out of children just make them mad, so they go beat the hell out of someone else. Thats why we have so many thugs in the street, they are immune to pain!

    • Phyllis Dixon on

      Wow, you really got carried away. We do need parents that care. I think that black kids are too in the street, they don’t get enough guidance from their parents. I have a daughter who listened to me, one of the only ones out of a slew of children, natural and adopted and now she is graduating from an ivy league school this week.

      I didn’t treat her like a slave I treated her like I loved her and I treated like she counted. She is a beautiful human being and she tells me I am a God send. Yes, I had expectations, one day in particular she asked me if she could go to the movies with a young man and I said no. She wanted to go but she threw her long muscular, basketball arms around me and said, “Okay ma, I’ll do what you think is best.” Several of her friends didn’t complete college, some got into drugs, some are promiscuous, etc., I don’t worry about her decisions unless she brings it to me. We are close, we are friends who care, and we listen. We talk everyday, sometimes more often. By, the way, the ones who didn’t listen, who didn’t show me that respect are really struggling. I am still trying but they wanted to experience the wrong side of life and they are suffering.

  9. Sorry I was raised by 2 no nonsense parents and I did as I was told until it was time to be on my own. I did fine and I raised my two the same way – I'm glad yr way is working for u (maybe) but it sure didn't work for Tatum O'Neal and quite a few other holliwood types – more power to u but God gave u children for a reason and they do need guidance if not – they could've bore themselves and what would they need u for – money isn't everything and guidance is. Emancipation may be a joke to u but it's not funny and as for Willow, I read that her best friend when she was 11 was a 21 yr old rapper – that wasn't funny either – Children need Parenting!

  10. Jimmie Ware on

    Will and Jada are for the most part great parents. I don’t agree with their methods. I was raised by a single parent woman, 4 boys, 2 girls. Mom didn’t play when it came to raising us. We were raised to be hard working, church going, respectful, children. My mom was firm and trust me when I say, you didn’t do anything that she didn’t know about, and if a friend of moms saw you do something wrong…you got it from that person, and again when you got home. I don’t see my kids as property, but I sure as hell don’t need to be their friends either. My oldest child is almost 31, she would rather walk through fire in gasoline panties, than to do anything to cause her father and I shame.

  11. Spence MissiontomakeMillions Clark on

    I disagree!… One I know plenty of black kids that do exactly that. Finish college and get high-paying jobs. And I also know that a lot of white kids get those positions because of "white privilege"

  12. I can see how this can be true (the slavery thing). I know Will is big on goals, the laws of attraction and all that and anybody who knows about limiting beliefs and how they are passed through the family would agree with him. The way black people raise their kids with a "my way or the highway" attitude can be a direct effect of the programing we have passed down since slavery times. I have talked to my parents allot and we have discussed how they were raised (which was hard and at times and lacked affection, love and understanding). They have told me allot of times that they did things different from their parents because of the things they lacked in their own childhood. Its funny because I feel like I have great well adjusted parents who are of the baby boomer generation. They came from two parent homes and are college graduates but they have both said they wished they had more freedom to be themselves as young people and that their family life was not a place to express themselves and have dreams outside of what their parents felt was best. I guess individuals have to look at their own limiting beliefs and see where they come from and change them for themselves and their children.

  13. To say that kids turn into thugs because they spanked is a false statement. I was raised by old school grand parents, got the [email protected]! beat I’ve never been arrested, jailed nor am I a thug. It taught me out hat there are consequences to my actions and to accept the consequences good or bad based on my decisions and actions. My children are the same way. Children need boundaries and discipline. They are not mentally on our level to be treated as equals.

  14. Lunetta Williams on

    These two "t.v. characters" all wrapped up in their Hollywood life and definitely forgotten where they come from. their parents, grandparents thoughts, and ways of bringing them up seems to have worked, until they went Hollywood. their parents bought them up the best they knew how and the way they were bought up. it sure kept WILL… out of jail, especially coming from one of the worst crime infested cities in the country! as well as JADA. don't you dare insult the nature of how black responsible parents raise their children because, yours are going to need a Psychiatrist. yes our parents could have done better, if they would have known better. thanks to Mr. Slave owner and the brutality of neglecting ones right to education. it is what we know now and how we use it. and it sure don't mean treating my child like a home girl or home boy!

  15. People have different parenting styles..what works for one may not work for another.. however I resent Will Smith insinuating that as black parents if we don’t share his new age style of rearing kids, we are somehow stuck in a slave like mentality. Can we just wait a minute and see how his kids turn out? My god Jaden is only 15!! I know a lot of people who criticize other parents thinking their own kids shit don’t stink when they kids have not reached a certain age. Lo and behold a year or two later KABOOM

  16. Carol Parks on

    Monique, your comment is full of wisdom. Kids need to express themselves, but they do need limits when they are growing up. To me it's how you are raised that will determine your success or not.

  17. So what you're saying is that it's a noteworthy accomplishment to not end up in jail so who is he to reinvent the wheel? Because that's largely what I got. Treating your son or daughter like a friend isn't the question. It's treating them like the person they are. Because they're young should it be ok to diminish their knowledge or understanding? I don't know about you but my 8 year old son has made some observations and formed opinions that've really got his dad and I thinking sometimes and that can't happen if we treated him like a halfwit. In the end, he doesn't 'belong' to us : we're not teaching him to live in the world solely as our son – why treat him like property?

  18. I agree with him. It is true what he is saying. He and his wife is trying to raise their kids without the Slave Mentality nonsense that plague our culture.

  19. Children need love and guidance. I believe a child reared with the right to make all the decisions for him/herself is headed for some big lessons. Children are not grown-ups with experiences to guide them. I do hope that the Smiths do not have to learn this lesson the hard way. Good luck to them in their child rearing.

  20. Again another professional entertainer and in this case a family of professional entertainers who should stick to entertaining…no need to give advice about life or Black People…I would recommend that Mr. and Mrs. Smith and children watch some nature shows of animals in the wild and what happens when the young stray from the herd…they get preyed upon. I hope both parents stop listening to the reasonings of pair of adolescence and their own childish inner minds and insist that their go to college and get an education.

  21. I learned a lot from this exchange. I can’t say will. And. Jada. Are right or wrong in the way they raise their children. It’ s their way .

  22. I can’t believe you people are taking parenting advice from the poster parents of “Hollywierd”. I grew up in a 2 parent interracial neighborhood. Slavery has nothing to do with our parenting methods. We just understand that there are consequences to are actions & children are not equals in the household

  23. These two cant speak about our kids we are raising our kids in the real world. I raised my four plus 8 more. I believe I tried everything for each individual child. My oldest got it. She loved to hear stories, her love for the spoken word was critical in her development, but some had to be corrected. I never thought of my babies as cattle or sheep but as mine to guide. Mr Smith treated His mom on the show like a slave and got rid of her as though she were nothing. That to me speaks volumes about taking his advice.

  24. First of all let me state that, we as black people had a past before slavery. That that past with it’s cultural background was not completely wiped from our gene pool down thru the years. I do not ascribe to that mindset of the Smith’s, no more than I do to an open marriage concept. All people don’t get to realize their dreams or set goals as they desired, yet many of those people are successful in their endeavors, I’m one of those people. In addition, I was raised old school and am grateful for my Mother and Grandparents. They did as they knew, that payed off for myself and other siblings in the family, they were not, nor did they need to be our friends. Money by and large determines available opportunities presented for one to grasp, and if one has the that kind of money the opportunity is there for the taking. The Smith’s have that money, so they need not equate money and fame as the only tract to successful parenting, because that is what they are inferring. We as black people from all walks of life in this American Social System, have achieved for our families and ourselves success on just about level presented to or coveted by us as a people. We have always known how to raise our children , integration set us back quite a bit in that area, but as we have overcome other setbacks, we’ll recover from this one as well. So lets remember to leave Hollywood to Hollywood, and let the entertainers be entertainers and nothing els.

  25. We assume that because someone graduates from college and is so-called successful they will not fall into drugs —(I beg to differ) as one who has personally seen the unimaginable—-their are more drugs and other weird behavior among so-called successful folks I’ve learned to NEVER judge a book by it’s cover–because what you find INSIDE might shock you—all we can do is hope that our children will use common sense (not become “EDUCATED FOOLS”)when he/she enters the outside world –it is beyond our control and none of our business from that point on — “LIFE HAPPENS TO ALL OF US”….WE would like to think that these things make us immune to pitfalls— so-called WHITE FOLKS(human beings crash and burn)—…STAY STRONG, LIVE WISE and INVOLVE THE CHILDREN in WHOLESOMENESS!!….PEACE

  26. Read the article… wonder what they mean when they said, "We certainly hope that Will isn’t saying that we should raise our kids like white people." That sounds racist as hell.

  27. One thing that is important to realize is that Will and Jaden are multimillionaires. When you have resources, an abundant of resources, you can do things differently than the rest of society. If Will’s parents (who had far less resources) raised him like that in Philadelphia Lord knows what Will would have gotten into. Jaden has money, networks, prestige, the best schools, an international education etc. He is being taught and raised but in a different way than most of us are privileged to do for our children. These ideas of parenting are a lot harder to emulate in Southside Chicago.

  28. Can I just say that I live in a very diverse community and every family I know from the continent of Africa spank or whip their kids. So we can just put aside this “slaves were beaten so that’s why we beat” mentality? They have never experienced slavery nor have their ancestors and they are strong believers in corporal punishment

  29. jimmie bean on

    Will talking smack. It’s one thing to open doors for your kids but another thing when they have to go out on their own and make their own way without mom and dad. Who knows what happens then when they hear, “You only made it because of your dad.”
    A lot of child stars are successful adults and some are not. The jury is not yet in on Will’s kids. He may have spoke too soon.

  30. Robert Squire III on

    NO! He's WRONG! If anyone is a slave it's HIM and HIS family. They're Hollywood SLAVES, Juking and Jiving to the whims of white Hollywood Execs. For a man who's suggested living life "colorless", He sure does have a lot of opinions for black people. It is more likely, those are the opinions of his masters, and he's just regurgitating them.

  31. I got gems from a few of the remarks. Will is only 44. Jada is 41. People, lighten up. They are not even middle age-still young people. So glad that he made it above rich from where he came. I admire the way he’s tackling and navigating from such a position of great wealth. Don’t think they’re trying to be experts on parenting. The capitalist ask them questions, they answer honesty.What more do we want? Who are you? Agree with every philosophy? Neither do I agree with all of yours. They will err. Just like you and I have. At 61, I took Mike’s advice-“Man In the Mirror”, and God’s- love is 1st. That will yield the best. Why some waiting for a mistake from the children? The Smith’s don’t come off to me like “Know it alls”. I might be wrong, but I like their attitude with what they have to deal with being two beautiful people of the richness of black hue. Jada is a strong woman of beautiful color. They need and balance each other very well. The open marriage is a mistake. I pray for them. I still love them. I pray the purpose of the Creator for their existence will be fully accomplished. I”m glad to be alive on their watch. Love & Peace.

  32. danny morenito on

    Whomever wrote this article is ignorant. How do white people act v/s black people? Your mind is in slavery.

  33. Lucy Luckygirl Dancer on

    I love the Pinkett-Smith family. They obviously love one another and they are a beautiful, strong family. I like most of their parenting style, not all. I think it is good for African-American families to instill a sense of limitlessness and entitlement in our children – after all they CAN drink at the water fountain or sit in the front of the bus without being lynched today! However, I recognize that their celebrity and wealth allow them some liberty the average family realistically cannot "afford" with their children. No judgement. Let them live their lives.

  34. This commentary is horrific. Specifically this phrase: “Their kids earn more money than most adults, so it appears to be working.” WTF? When does how much money a CHILD makes determine how well they are raised? There are young cats that make more money than most adults by selling dope, too. I wouldn’t say that those kids were raised well. Further, those two children make money because their parents have a production company and bankroll their endeavors. We will see how well they have been raised once they hit young adult hood.

  35. I understand where Will and Jada is coming from raising their children. Listen to that ‘their children’ everyone has their own beliefs about different subjects and topics and I believe that too many black people are raising their children in the slave mentality as well. White people beat black people and sometimes those beatings lead to death. In return black people beat their children if they felt like they was not following masters orders and then the African American community is known for spanking and whipping their children. (Slave Mentality).

  36. Black people should be proud of who they are. Why raise as white people do theirs? Why would you raise your kids like the people who put in slavery for so long! Black people were not even considered humans by Whites,why should we listen to them.

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