Will Smith may be a Grammy-winning artist and blockbuster movie star, but he's experienced racial prejudice too. The rapper-actor opened up during the "On One With Angela Rye" podcast Tuesday (July 7) to share his experiences growing up in Philadelphia during a conversation about the current Black Lives Matter movement that followed George Floyd's death at the hands of police in May.
"I grew up under Mayor [Frank] Rizzo in Philadelphia. He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor, and he had an iron hand," explained the star. "I've been called a n----r by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions. The police, when I was growing up, moved with impunity in Philly."
The actor, now 51, also talked about how he felt about law enforcement when he was growing up. "I understand what it's like to be in those circumstances with the police, to feel like you've been occupied -- it's an occupying force," Smith said. "White kids were happy when the cops showed up, and my heart always started pounding. There's a part of this that people who don't grow up in that -- you just can't comprehend. You just can't comprehend what it feels like to feel like you live in occupied territory."