Jada Pinkett Smith tackles racism on 'Red Table Talk': Black men are portrayed as 'the most dangerous creatures on the planet'

The June 19, 2020 episode of Facebook Watch's "Red Table Talk" centered on racism. From L to R: Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smit and Tamika Mallory. (Screenshot: Red Table Talk)

Jada Pinkett Smith tackled systemic racism during a new episode of Red Table Talk featuring activists Dr. Angela Davis, who joined the discussion via video chat, and Tamika Mallory.

The Friday episode on Facebook Watch aired on Juneteenth, which is acknowledged as the end of slavery in 1865 and followed protests over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks. The co-hosts became emotional when discussing Floyd’s last words captured in a viral video before he died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. The episode contains video clips of Floyd lying on the ground and other graphic footage.

“[Floyd’s] video represents what Black people have experienced for generations and generations over and over and over again,” said Davis. “When I saw that white cop with his hands in his pocket, nonchalantly murdering this Black man, and we're collectively mourning the fact that we have not brought about change, our own failure to stand up and say, 'Never again. Never again.'"

“...I definitely heard [Floyd] calling for his mother,” Mallory added. “And when he says, ‘Mama,’ it strikes a nerve because for my own son, to have him say, ‘Mama,’ calling for me. But I think about Eric Garner saying, ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times and people stood around, and watched it happen...” In 2014, Garner, a Black man, died in New York City after he was put in a chokehold by police.

The panel went on to discuss Brooks, who was fatally shot at a Wendy’s drive-thru restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Former officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan have since been charged with his June death.

"I think one of the most painful things for me, is that the idea that Black men are the most dangerous creatures on the planet," said Pinkett Smith. "So that, if he's drunk in a drive-thru at Wendy’s, that justifies him being murdered, or everyone talking about whatever George Floyd's rap sheet might have been, as if any of that has anything to do with his rights to be treated as a human being."

When Pinkett Smith asked “Is diversity and inclusion enough?” in regard to hiring practices and white people protesting, Davis answered that both concepts only work when they’re “paired with justice” and “connected to transformation.”

Later, Pinkett Smith praised 19-year-old Willow’s generation for having a “different mindset.”

“We’re not even sure if ‘am I a boy, am I a girl?’” said Willow. “Like, we’re blurring the colors...we’re blurring the lines between gender...and kids are growing up with this understanding that you can be whatever you want, and you’re not defined by your oppression or your gender or your color.”

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