“Today” show host Craig Melvin said that Will Smith’s Oscar slap aided “this long-held perception … that men of color can’t control their rage and anger.”
Melvin has talked 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 sports anchor wife, Lindsay Czarniak.
He said on air Monday morning: “It was really disappointing.”
“If you’re rearing 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 long-held perception in this country that men of color, especially, can’t control their rage and their anger, and to see someone who’s been that beloved for decades — it was troubling on so many levels,” he added.
Melvin’s comments quickly drew 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 did nothing but add fuel to an already volatile situation and are nothing more than another form of Black on Black crime.”
Jonathan Green wrote: “You are wrong Craig, Men of Color has nothing to do with Will slapping the heck out Chris Rock. In the Black culture, if you talk about our mother, and our wife we will kick your a-s. Maybe you need to come to hood and visit again.”
However, Mike Villa tweeted: “Have to say that was a very eloquent observation by @craigmelvin on the @TheTodayShow about the Oscars ‘Slapgate,’” and tweeter LaShawn added: “Craig Melvin was 100% correct! Young black boys deserve better that what Will Smith gave them@last night. These kids out here aren’t famous & if they slap someone at school over a f—ing joke they’re libel to end up dead! Y’all making excuses for this crap is so toxic!”
After Melvin made his now-controversial comments, fellow “Today” show hosts also gave their thoughts on the viral moment.
Co-host Tom Llamas added: “There is so much more to this story. I agree with you about the violence, you’re 100% right, but Will Smith and his wife had been the butt of so many jokes for the last year and I wonder how much of that was there too just bubbling,” to which Melvin added: “As you said it’s never about the thing.”
“Today” co-anchor Hoda Kotb replied: “It’s never about the thing and I read Will Smith’s autobiography which was amazing and in the beginning he described himself as a coward.
“I thought that was such a poignant thing to say aloud because he could not defend himself when his dad was going through this horrible stuff and you wonder what this moment had to do with all that stuff.”
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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 this. The other winners, too.”
In 2020, Melvin wrote in Men’s Health magazine about parenting his son: “At some point, I’ll have to talk to my son about how to deal with the fact that he will go from being a cute kid with great hair to being labeled as a threat in society,” he said. “I’ll have to talk to him about how to deal with circumstances he doesn’t have control over. I’ll have to talk to him about how he’s going to carry himself in a world that doesn’t always make sense. But before I have this conversation with him, I’ll continue to have this conversation with myself.”