On Monday, actress Jada Pinkett Smith talked about her prejudice against white women with blonde hair. The actress revealed that she has found herself prejudging such women and has thought "twice" about doing an interview because the interviewer was a white woman with blonde hair.
"I have to admit I'm guilty to that to a certain degree because I do have my own biases, specifically to blonde women," Pinkett Smith said on an episode of "Red Table Talk," appearing alongside her mother Adrienne Banfield-Jones and daughter Willow Smith.
"Blonde hair on white women just triggers me," said the 47-year-old. "I've had to catch myself."
Pinkett Smith was speaking in the context of race relations and the "divide" between white women and people of color. Up front, the actress told the audience that speaking about race honestly is a sensitive topic often met with outrage. "I got some serious biases and prejudices, myself," she admitted.
"I think what crushes me, specifically in my relationship with white women, the thing that really breaks my heart is that white women understand what it feels to be oppressed," she said.
"Because of their sex," said Willow, 17.
"Exactly. Because of their sex," replied Pinkett Smith. "What it feels like to be ostracized or not being treated as an equal."
"Blonde hair on white women just triggers me," said the actress.
"Do you have a specific incident with someone who had blonde hair?" asked Banfield-Jones.
"Absolutely. All throughout my childhood. I do remember experiencing being teased by white women in regards to my hair, how I looked, feeling belittled," Pinkett Smith answered.
"I was going to do an interview with this blonde woman and I thought twice about it. I thought, 'I don't know if I want to do that.' That was my first instinct because of how she looked!" Pinkett Smith continued.
"And I was like, 'Oh! That's no different.' That doesn’t give me the right to clump all blonde women in one," she explained. "And look at me, I got blonde hair! It's no different than you getting robbed by a black guy once and now you’re saying all black dudes are thieves and dangerous."
Producer Annie Price joined the roundtable later in the show and talked about how difficult it is to speak about racial issues without offending and discussed so-called "white privilege."
"Any time I want to have a conversation [about race] I'm afraid I'm going to offend somebody just by starting to talk," she said. "I feel like I'm going to say the wrong thing."
"I hear a lot of times that white women have privilege and they need to recognize they have privilege. I’m sure I do. I just haven’t had the experience to recognize that I have the privilege. I don’t understand the feeling of racism. I feel a lot of times trying to be friends or trying to reach out to women of color, sometimes I feel like they don't want to be my friend," Price added.
"We, even as black women, have to be willing to look at our biases that keep us from being able to bridge the gap," said Pinkett Smith.
Pinkett Smith has been applauded for speaking honestly about her racial biases against whites.
Other people who have discussed racial issues have not been met with such delight, to put it mildly. For example, former NBC host Megyn Kelly, a white woman with blonde hair, was recently fired for asking if it was necessarily "racist" to dress as a celebrity or character of another race if it wasn't done in bad faith.
"What is racist?" asked the host. "Because truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character."
Kelly, of course, was fired for the remarks and widely smeared as a racist.
At the top of this very episode of "Red Table Talk," Pinkett Smith herself mentioned the Kelly incident, describing the host as giving "racially insensitive" comments and "defending blackface."