‘I don’t endorse violence’: Ayanna Pressley reacts to Will Smith’s Oscars slap after deleted tweet

"I'm a proud Alopecian. The psychological toll we carry daily is real. Team Jada always."

J. Scott Applewhite
Representative Ayanna Pressley. J. Scott Applewhite
The Oscars

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley on Monday offered an updated response to actor Will Smith’s assault of comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars, after deleting a tweet on Sunday night in which she applauded Smith.

The moment that stunned viewers of the film awards gala was spurred by Rock’s joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith — comparing her haircut to Demi Moore’s buzz cut in the 1997 movie, “G.I. Jane.”

Afterwards, Smith hopped up on stage and hit Rock, and told him moments later “keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth.”

Like Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from hair loss from alopecia, Pressley has opened up in recent years about her struggle with the condition.


And Pressley, in a now deleted tweet on Sunday night, initially cheered Smith for taking action in response to Rock’s wisecrack.

“#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith Shout out to all the husband who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults,” Pressley posted, along with a picture of her husband, Conan Harris. “Women with baldies are for real men only. Boys need not apply.”

Pressley, however, struck a different tone on Monday.

In a Twitter thread, Pressley said she supports Pinkett Smith.

But she also appeared to distance herself from her previous comments thanking Smith, writing that she does not condone violence.

“My life’s work has always been about trauma & healing,” Pressley wrote. “I’m a survivor — I don’t endorse violence in any form.”

“Let’s talk about what it’s like to live with #alopecia,” she continued. “The deeply vulnerable & difficult moments that our families see. Appreciation post for those who hold us down & support us when we’re at our lowest points. They see us, fully. #IYKYK”

Pressley went on to write that, “Our bodies are not public domain. They are not a line in a joke — especialy when the transformation is not our choosing.


“I’m a survivor of violence. I’m a proud Alopecian,” Pressley added. “The psychological toll we carry daily is real. Team Jada always. That’s that on that.”

Asked for comment about the deleted tweet earlier Monday morning, a spokesperson for Pressley pointed to the Twitter thread.

Pressley’s comments on Monday still sparked debate and backlash online, with many people noting that Pressley’s expressed gratitude for Smith on Sunday suggested the opposite of her not endorsing violence.

“Are you apologizing for (the deleted tweet) or just a loose apology like the one Will Smith gave? I’m blue (through) and through but we need better,” one person wrote.

“Very surprised and really disappointed. Violence is never the answer,” another person wrote. “If the admission to be on ‘team Jada’ is to stand in favor of violence because feelings got hurt, that’s a sad cost.”

Others thanked Pressley for her words.

“Thank you for the distinction of being ‘Team Jada’ and not Team Will,” one person responded. “Because as crappy as that joke was, it didn’t give him the right to assault someone and celebrating that is dangerous.”

Although alopecia can refer to hair loss of any kind, alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes baldness.


Research has shown the condition disproportionately affects African Americans. A study from Boston University in 2016, for instance, found that 47.6 percent of nearly 5,600 African American women surveyed reported hair loss.


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