Will Smith speaks out on being racially profiled more than 10 times

Will Smith
Will Smith
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Actor and musician Will Smith is adding his voice to the discussion about racism in the United States of America by opening up about his experience with racism during a podcast this week.

Speaking to Angela Rye on her show, On 1 with Angela Rye, the star shared that while growing up in Philadelphia police officers had called him racist slurs on more than 10 separate occasions.

Read more | Will Smith says divorce from his first wife was his ‘ultimate failure’

“I’d been called the [N-word] by cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions,” Smith said. “I got stopped so frequently. So I understand what it’s like to be in those circumstances with police.”

The incidents allegedly took place under the city’s controversial former mayor Frank Rizzo, whose statue was removed during protests in the country.

“I grew up under Mayor Rizzo. He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor, and he had an iron fist,” he said.

This was an exclusive conversation centred around police violence and race, which is deeply needed as Black Lives Matter protests are still taking place following the death of George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers in America, racism and the systemic mistreatment of people of colour has been a constant dialogue across the globe.

Read more | 3 ways to take your Black Lives Matter activism beyond a social media post

Will further shared that he thinks the global protests are unprecedented and he’s "deeply encouraged" that so many people have pledged their support to the fight against racism.

"When [George Floyd's death] happened, I could immediately feel the world shifting. I immediately went into a state of study, I wanted to be prepared to meet the seismic shift of the times," he said. 

“We are in a circumstance that we’ve never been in before,” he said. “The entire globe has stood up and said to African American people, ‘We see you and we hear you. How can we help?’ We’ve never been here before.

"Peaceful protests put up a mirror to the demonic imagery of your repressor. It was painful to watch but I was deeply encouraged by the innate connectivity of the protesters, globally," Smith added. 

Watch the full interview below: 

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