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Willow Smith speaks during "March for Our Lives," an organized demonstration to end gun violence, in Los Angeles, on March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon - RC1CFC2CE210

'It hurts my heart'

Willow Smith speaks out on the feminist movement’s racial divide

February 21, 2019

In an impromptu late-night conversation conducted via Skype, Willow Smith recently voiced her thoughts on how African-American women have historically been excluded from the feminist cause.

The 18-year-old daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith spoke to writer and activist Rachel Cargle, who published the transcript of their chat on the Harper’s BAZAAR website. Asked if she identifies as a feminist, Smith admitted that she struggles with the label because of the rift that separates white and black women that’s “still happening in the feminist movement today.”

“It’s complicated because I support the womanist movement, the feminist movement, any movement that’s supporting women. But it really hurts my heart that there was this chasm between white women and black women.”

Smith went on to say that some white women her age downplay the problem. “The reaction that I usually get from my white female peers is, ‘It’s not that big of a deal, you’re making it a bigger deal than it needs to be.’” Despite that, she said, she feels connected to the broader struggle for women’s rights. “The first real connection that I had to women’s rights and freeing women emotionally and politically and all those ways, was with ‘Whip My Hair,’” she said, referring to the debut single she released in 2010. “At the time I didn’t really understand all of those dynamics, but that song… I hope it spoke to other black girls. It spoke to me and kind of, in a way, kickstarted my advocacy for freeing femininity.”

Remarkably, Smith was only nine years old when the song was released. Yet it became an instant sensation as a woke anthem and a commentary on race that was accessible and appealing to younger kids.

“You know, even more now than ever, I’m looking at these issues and I’m like, haven’t we gotten past this? Can’t we just see that you’re a woman, you have light skin; I’m a woman, I have dark skin. We’re both human.”

Read the full story at Harper’s BAZAAR.

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