Speed Reads

'don't say that'

Will Smith wants to change 'defund the police' to 'defund the bad police'

Will Smith is calling for an adjustment in "our marketing" when it comes to phrases like "defund the police."

The actor spoke with GQ for a profile published Monday ahead of the release of his forthcoming memoir, and at one point during the conversation, he urged Black Americans to "seize upon the present global opportunities" and "argue less about certain things." When asked what he means by that, Smith told GQ, "So 'Abolish the police. Defund the police.' I would love if we would just say 'Defund the bad police.' It's almost like I want, as Black Americans, for us to change our marketing for the new position we're in. So 'critical race theory,' just call it 'truth theory.'"

While acknowledging that he was getting into a "difficult area to discuss," Smith argued that the "simplicity of Black Lives Matter was perfect" because "anybody who tries to debate Black Lives Matter looks ridiculous." On the other hand, he contended that "'defund the police' doesn't get it done, no matter how good the ideas are." He added, "I'm not saying we shouldn't defund the police. I'm saying, just don't say that, because then people who would help you won't."

Smith, an Oscar frontrunner this year for his performance in King Richard, also discussed his upcoming slavery drama Emancipation, explaining that he avoided films about slavery earlier in his career because he "wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts." He also noted that he took this project to studios last year in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, telling GQ that Apple is putting an "unprecedented" amount of funding behind it. 

"The entire world was in lockdown, watched what happened to George Floyd, and stood up with one voice and said, 'We see it. We agree,'" Smith said. "That's never happened before and with that the opportunities are unlike they've ever been."