Willow Smith Recalls Death Threats, Racism & Sexism Her Mom Jada Pinkett Smith Faced

“I got to see that hate firsthand.”

With Willow Smith entering the pop-rock world with her latest music release, she’s also reflecting on what she witnessed her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, go through while trying to break into metal back in the day.

Jada formed the rock group Wicked Wisdom back in 2002, before releasing two albums and playing Ozzfest and opening for Britney Spears on tour in the years that followed. As a Black woman in a genre dominated by white men, the reaction from the audience wasn’t always a welcome one — and is something Willow witnessed as a young girl.

“My mom got so much hate,” she said in a new interview for L’Officiel. “It was intense racism and sexism, just packed on to the tens. People giving her death threats, throwing glass at her onstage. Some crazy stuff went down when she was touring with her band.”

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“I got to see that hate firsthand. It was so scary to me, and I think I internalized a little bit,” Willow added, before explaining how seeing her mother handle the hateful treatment she received taught her how to overcome her own insecurities as an artist.

“Every time I feel that coming on, I just go back to my memories of my mom and how she would deal with actual physical danger—she just rose above it,” Willow continued. “Obviously, she was scared. But she really showed me what ‘womaning up’ really was, by taking a stance and not being afraid of other people’s judgements and perceptions.”

“I really wanted to just go within that place in myself and try something new, regardless of what my insecurities were,” she added, saying that her pop-punk album is how she’s fulfilling “that desire that I had ever since I was 10 or 12 of singing rock music, of being a Black woman singing rock music.”

Willow Smith Calls 'Whip My Hair' a 'Really Terrible Experience' While Getting Real With Jaden About Their Parents' Parenting

During the interview, Smith also revealed how her feelings about “Whip My Hair” have changed over the years. Willow has previously spoken at length about why that time in her life was a “terrible experience” overall and even led to self-harm. That led to her hating the song for a long time — telling L’Officiel she “really regretted it” — but it’s one she’s slowly come back around on.

“I listened to ‘Whip My Hair’ not too long ago, after many years, and realized that it’s the same message. I’m not saying anything that’s against my values, and on top of that, I’m saying things that are in harmony with my values,” she said. “I kind of just had a huge aha and was like, ‘o, don’t condemn this side of your life because it gave you a foundation and a platform and a fan base of so many loving individuals who have been by my side through this whole crazy, topsy-turvy journey that I’ve had.'”

“Now,” she added, “I would never take it back.'”

Willow’s new album is due out later this summer.

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