As instances of racial injustice continue to make national headlines, we’re reminded that progress ― real progress ― is hard. But as Will Smith points out, Americans are “talking about race in this country more clearly and openly” than ever.
Smith shared this optimistic but realistic viewpoint on racism and relationships between communities with Stephen Colbert during an interview on the “Late Show” Tuesday night, where he framed his outlook in terms of a couple attending marriage counseling.
“I really think this darkness — as bad as it is, and as difficult as it is — the problems are on the table,” he said. “I view that in the same way as Jada and I had to work through things in our marriage. When the truth comes out ... and you have to confront what’s real, it sucks.”
The important thing, said Smith, is that we’re having an open conversation. And that conversation leads to progress.
“We are talking about race in this country more clearly and openly than we have, almost ever, in the history of this country,” he said to applause. “Racism is not getting worse. It’s getting filmed.”
And that doesn’t mean we should discount the progress we’ve already made, he added:
When I hear people say, ‘It’s worse than it’s ever been!’ I really... disagree completely. It’s clearly not worse than it was in the 60s. And it’s certainly not as bad as it was in the 1860s.
While he acknowledged our struggles are those of a “difficult time,” that’s no reason to despair.
“I think the problem is on the table,” he said, “and I think there’s an opportunity, more than ever, for a level of understanding that we’ve never had before.”
This is not the actor’s first foray into the race relations conversation.
In 2015, Smith and his wife donated $150,000 in support of a Black Lives Matter march at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. And in January of this year, he joined numerous other actors in boycotting the Oscars, which failed to nominate a single black actor for an Academy Award for the second year in a row.