For many 80's and 90's babies/kids, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was extremely admirable, relatable, and showed the realistic lens of blending the lower and upper-class Black experience in America. The show brought light to such intense realities that are still very relevant to today's society, like the struggles of single parenting, Will's daddy issues, Black wealthy families' struggles, classism, over-policing Black people, 90's influential fashion, etc. And after six phenomenal seasons, it's safe to say Fresh Prince of Bel-Air became the anchor for Black youth and many generations to come.
Recently, the popular '90s sitcom,Fresh Prince of Bel-Airmade headlines as the cast celebrated their 30th anniversary of the show on a HBO Max reunion special. All my years of watching this show repetitively, I thought it was perfection in every way possible–but the special revealed its flaws. Specifically, the conflict between Janet Hubert and Will Smith. Back then, it was believed that a difficult working relationship between Will and Janet is what ultimately got her fired and caused her exit before the series' fourth season.
Fresh Prince of Bel Air reunion - Will Smith and Janet Hubert make amendswww.youtube.com
During the special however, after 27 years of not speaking to each other and bashing each other in countless interviews–Janet and Will were finally able to overcome their feud. The growth between them was easily seen and a reminder of necessary healing conversations. The industry was too small in the '90s to have such a public dispute, and it's still too small in 2020 with limited acting jobs for Black actors. It's not worth dragging a workmate in Hollywood or anywhere else to gain justice for themselves.
Will spoke to Janet separately on the special about where each of their headspace were during that time and why it was so hard to forgive one another for so long. Janet mentioned:
"When I left the show, I had this new baby and no one. Family disowned me. Hollywood disowned me. My family said, 'You've ruined our name.' And I wasn't unprofessional on the set. I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn't know who to trust because I had been banished."
Will stated that as a 21-year-old, he felt like "everything was a threat" to him.
"I was so driven by fear. I have children. I've been divorced, and I have a second marriage, and I can see now the level of pain and the level of struggle that it was just for you to show up every day."
The perspective Will provided shows that there needs to be more healthy dialogue and listening to one another, especially in instances where misunderstandings may live. If something seems unusual, ask questions instead of assuming things or having tunnel vision, only focusing on yourself.
Everyone is going through something; extend the grace you want to receive from others.
Janet replied to Will:
"But you took all of that away from me — with your words. Words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. Everything. And I understand you were able to move forward, but you know those words, calling a Black woman difficult in Hollywood, is the kiss of death. And it's hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business. But I felt that it was necessary for us to finally move forward. And I'm sorry that I have blasted you to pieces."
It only hurt Janet the most to earn fewer opportunities, and as a dark skin Black woman, her roles were already scarce. Will never lost anything; instead, his career heightened dramatically, and now he is one of the highest-paid and accomplished Black actors in the world. It was the complete opposite experience for Janet; it was a lot harder for her to get jobs based on her intersectional experience of being Black and a woman actress in Hollywood. Along with the added complaints that Will thrown out about her in countless interviews.
It all comes down to accountability and healing.
Black actors must acknowledge their privilege; society is more forgiving to Black men versus Black women; history has shown us that countless times. And Black women are less likely to be believed than any other racial group of women.
As a community, Black people need to be open to intentional healthy discussion rather than defensive commentary back and forth. Talking things through brings forth restorative healing and gives others a chance to process their emotions and reactions. It's essential that they were both accountable for their end because it doesn't benefit either party in playing the victim and not moving forward.
The goal isn't to have perfect relationships, but progressive relationships should be attainable. We already have the world against us; we can't afford to be against each other too. Together we are a force to be reckoned with, and separated, we are left vulnerable and unable to protect one another.
As Will mentioned to Janet, "The person I want to be is someone who protects you, not someone who unleashed dogs on you."
There is so much strength in vulnerability. This is the love and support we ALWAYS need to have for one another.
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Featured image by HBO Max
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Ajeé Buggam is a content writer and fashion designer from New York City and an alumna from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She specializes in writing about race, social injustice, relationships, feminism, entrepreneurship, and mental wellness. Check out her recent work at Notes To Self
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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