“Today” host Craig Melvin said Will Smith’s slap at the Oscars helped “this long-held perception…that men of color can’t control their rage and anger”.
Melvin has spoken openly about raising his biracial children as a black father and called the Best Actor winner’s actions “really disappointing.”
The 42-year-old host has two children, son Delano, 8, and daughter Sybil, 5, with his white wife, Lindsay Czarniak.
He said on air Monday morning: ‘It was really disappointing.
“If you’re raising a boy, especially in this country, you spend so much time talking to our kids about keeping your hands to yourself, controlling your emotions and then there’s also this longstanding perception in this country that men of color, especially, can’t control their rage and anger, and seeing someone who has been so loved for decades – it was unsettling on so many levels,” he added.
Melvin’s comments quickly sparked comments on Twitter.
Michael Todd Brown tweeted“You never cease to amaze me. You also have a duty to represent and protect ‘men of color’. Your on-air comments have only fueled an already volatile situation and are nothing short of more than another form of black-on-black crime.”
Jonathan Green wrote“You’re wrong Craig, Men of Color has nothing to do with Will slapping Chris Rock. In black culture, if you talk about our mother and our wife, we’ll kick your ass. Maybe that you need to come to the hood and visit again.
However, Mike Villa tweeted“Have to say that was a very telling comment by @craigmelvin on @TheTodayShow about the Oscars ‘Slapgate'” and added LaShawn tweeter: “Craig Melvin was 100% right! Young black boys deserve better than what Will Smith gave them last night. These kids here are not famous and if they slap someone at school for a joke, they end up defaming death! Y’all make excuses for this shit, it’s so toxic!”
After Melvin made his now-controversial comments, the other “Today” show hosts also weighed in on the viral moment.
Co-host Tom Llamas added: “There’s so much more to this story. I agree with you on the violence, you’re 100% right, but Will Smith and his wife have been the butt of so many jokes last year. and I wonder how much of that was there too just bubbling,” to which Melvin added, “Like you said, it’s never about the thing.
‘Today’ co-host Hoda Kotb replied, “It’s never about the thing and I read Will Smith’s autobiography which was amazing and at first he described himself like a coward.
“I thought that was such a poignant thing to say out loud because he couldn’t defend himself when his dad was going through this horrible story and you wonder what that moment had to do with it all.”
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Llamas said, “It was going to be the biggest night of his career,” as Melvin added, “Now it’s overshadowed by that. The other winners too.”
In 2020, Melvin wrote in Men’s Health magazine about parenting his son: “At some point I will have to talk to my son about how to deal with the fact that he will grow from being a cute kid with nice hair to be labeled as a threat to society,” he said. “I’m going to have to talk to him about how to deal with circumstances that he has no control over. I’m going to have to talk to him about how how he’s going to behave in a world that doesn’t always make sense. But before I have this conversation with him, I’m going to continue having this conversation with myself.