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The Reason Jada Pinkett-Smith Never Saw Herself Being Married To Will

Jada Pinkett Smith

The first season of Red Table Talk was a tough act to follow, but Jada's squad just upped the ante with the release of their latest episode, which for the first time features her husband of 20 years, Will Smith, and promises to answer every question we've ever had about their previously private marriage life.


Will and Jada were joined by her two co-hosts, her mom, Adrienne, and daughter, Willow, and discussed how the two ultimately became "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". The couple dropped a ton of bombs during the discussion, including but not limited to how they met. She even revealed that she once went on a date with his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star, Alfonso Ribeiro.

Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Willow SmithStan Evans/Red Table Talk

Will revealed that he was captivated by Jada after seeing her on A Different World and subsequently went on set to meet her. Upon his arrival, another beautiful woman caught his eye and would one day become his wife and the mother of his oldest son, Trey.

"The dude that was gone introduce me to Jada was with another girl and I was like who is that? And it was Sheree. I went to 'A Different World' to meet Jada and met Sheree and ended up marrying Sheree and having Trey."

It wasn't until years later when Jada and Will reconnected by way of a mutual friend that they would ever have a real one-on-one conversation, but at this point, Will was already married and did not believe in divorce. The night after he and Jada spoke, Will shared that he found himself crying in a bathroom stall because he knew that he had met the woman he was supposed to be with. Still, he remained faithful until Sheree until she filed for divorce.

"She hit me hard. Sheree filed for divorce on Valentine's Day. I was like ouch. And I still told her, no. You can't have a divorce. And she hit me with the, 'So you're gonna make somebody stay with you who doesn't love you?' And I was like nope, I'm not, I'm actually not. And I was like that was the one that got me. And I remember I was like, I'm going to sign the divorce papers."

That day, he walked to his car and called Jada, who had just bought a house in Baltimore, to come to L.A. for them to be together and she never spent a night in her new house. When she agreed, things moved quickly and they spent most of their time together. After two years of dating, Jada found out that she was pregnant.

Although the actress says that her children are her biggest blessings, at the time, those blessings were definitely disguised. In the episode, the couple said that the young mother knew she was pregnant almost immediately after conception and cried the entire night.

Jada revealed that when her mother found out that she was pregnant, marriage was mandatory and this was a concept that she fought until the end.

"I was like my life is never going to be the same. I was like what am I gonna do now? I really didn't want to get married... It was almost as if, Gammy was like you had to get married. Like, we have to talk about the wedding. I was under so much pressure being a young actress. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I just knew I never wanted to be married."
"I didn't want a wedding either. I just wanted it to be the two of us on a mountain like this is serious business."

On her wedding day, Jada was three months pregnant and sick to her stomach, both figuratively and literally. She even recalled walking down the aisle sobbing.

"I just never really agreed with the construct. I never have, I still don't. 'Til' death do us part is real for me', it's just all of the rules and all of the ideas. The accepted conventional definition of 'wife' in the paradigm, I'm not that."

Even today, Jada says that marriage is a social construct that she doesn't believe in but thinks that her mother made the right call and their 20-year marriage is nothing short of a miracle.

For anyone wondering how to build a relationship with longevity, Jada and Will say that the key is in communication. Early on in their relationship, they established that they would not raise their voices or use profanity in their communication with one another. Instead, they choose to walk away until they can respond with love. Will shared:

"I said Jada, this is the deal. I grew up in a household where I watched my father punch my mother in the face and I will not create a house, a space, an interaction with a person where there is profanity and violence. If you have to talk to me like that we won't be together. We're not gonna use any profanity in our interactions, we're not gonna raise our voice, we're not going to be violent. Because I can't do it."
"We never raised our voices, we took communication courses, all of that."

They explained that all things worth having are worth working for, and their miracle didn't come without healing some emotional wounds. This means being able to walk away when you're angry. The 47-year-old actress said:

"You really have to discipline yourself. For me, I had to discipline myself. And really handle that within myself and see, okay what are you angry about? And then come to peace and then go and talk to Will when I can actually have a commune conversation. Because really you're not communicating when you're talking to each other in anger. What I realize is like, you're beating up on someone you say you love, right? Versus, handle that with yourself. There have been plenty of times I've had to say, 'I can't deal with this right now'. Go through your thoughts, go cry, go curse, go kick a tree."

Jada and Will have been our #RelationshipGoals for nearly two decades, but they shared that grass is always greener, and celebrities aren't immune to marital issues.

Jada recalled one instance where she cried for 45 days straight, and Will didn't know or care to help. He shared that he even built her a house to feel better at one point, but later learned that he had only been building it for himself. Will said that although they were winning on the outside, they were losing as a family.

"As a couple, we are magical. We win in the material world. When we do it together, we win. 'The Karate Kid', 'Whip My Hair', 'Hawthorne', and the Nobel Peace Prize. Our family did that within a 6 month period."
"The only interview that Barack Obama did after winning the Nobel Peace Prize was me and [Jada]. Externally our family was winning. There was a period where [Jada] woke up and cried 45 days straight. It was every morning. I think that's the worst I've ever felt in our marriage. I was failing miserably, but on the outside, I was winning."

Despite their unique moments of crisis, it has been their common beliefs and intentions that have kept them together and are the reasons they will never divorce. One of the most important shared ideas they have is building and maintaining a successful family.

"Until this day, no matter what, family."

Check out the other secrets revealed during this week's Red Table Talk below!

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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