Will Smith Opened Up About Being Called The N-Word "More Than 10" Times By Police
"We have to understand the reality of where we came from."
The actor shared his own experiences with racism and opened up about how he thinks the younger generation can use their "rage" to reshape the future.
"I grew up in Philadelphia under Mayor Rizzo. He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor and he had an iron hand," Will recalled.
"I've been called 'nigger' by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions," he said.
Will said he learned of the disparities between the way Black and white people view policing after attending a Catholic school in the suburbs. "White kids were happy when the cops showed up and my heart always started pounding."
The proud father also recounted watching the video of George Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police officers. "I've got two Black sons driving around. So when I saw this cop with his hands in his pockets, I'm like, 'What is going on inside of a person's mind to just be able to do that to another person?'" he said.
"Rage is justified under oppression. It also can be really dangerous," Will warned.
"You've gotta be careful not to be consumed by your own rage," he advised.
The 51-year-old told Angela what he loved about the peaceful protests happening around the globe is that they "put up a mirror to the demonic imagery of your oppressor."
"I was really encouraged by how powerfully this generation was able to hold that mirror," he added.
In regards to his upcoming film Emancipation, a thriller about a runaway slave, Will explained why he felt now is the right time for him to tackle the subject matter for the first in his movie career.
He said, "The reason I chose Emancipation now is, more than ever, we have to understand the reality of where we came from. The problem is there's an absence of knowledge about the history. It's really difficult to elevate without the knowledge and wisdom being presented in a way that the youth among us, in their most powerful form, are also educated."
He also explained why he avoided making such films in the past:
"For my career, my whole approach to building an image, and to building something that young Black kids and kids around the world could aspire to...I was strictly only creating images that were of the highest intelligence [and] the highest power. I needed to be as high and fly as high as I could possibly fly, so young Black kids would see that kind of flying — and really all kids — could see that type of flying as not something that only white movie stars could do."