In the spirit of foster care awareness month, I cannot let you get away with this one. In your recent duet with your sister Willow, you say the following:
…”We don’t have no parents all the misfits are foster kids.”
Not only do you have parents, but two very wealthy and very well favored celebrity parents – Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith! Furthermore, your words are a reflection of the prevailing but false narrative that foster children are damaged kids, without hope.
Allow me to correct this inherently flawed belief.
While in foster care, neglectful and abusive foster parents forced me to move nine times, in less than a decade. Due to such frequent uprooting, I quickly developed the ability to adjust to many different environments, quite instinctively. This is a skill that many foster care alumni equally acquire, as a matter of our survival.
In case you didn’t know, some of your parent’s celebrity friends were once in foster care. Ice-T, Eddie Murphy, Cher, The Game, Rosie Perez and legends such as Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles are just several notable foster care alumni.
While it is known that you have expressed interest in emancipating from your parents, there is quite a bit more to being in foster care than being an emancipated teen. It means that the cash-strapped, inattentive government is now responsible for you.
If you are 18 or older, it could mean that you are left to your own devices, without adequate resources. No movies or music royalties to draw upon. No trust fund or a litany of celebrity friends and family members to fall back on, in case of failure. Imagine that.
If you were a foster kid, you wouldn’t be begging for emancipation, you’d be begging for stability. If you were a foster kid, you may come from an abusive family, only to be abused further by the people who were supposed to make you feel loved. You may be forced to take medication that causes massive weight gain and heavy sedation.
And if you were in foster care, you’d probably be traveling with your belongings in cheap trash bags. How anyone can go on to be CEOs, inventors, Executive Directors or motivational speakers, in the midst of such deep adversity, is no small feat. Misfits? More like victors.
To be fair, I do not think that you meant any harm by your words. Unfortunately, that does not negate the fact that you passively propagated a negative and untrue stereotype of the foster care community. And it most certainly does not negate the fact that you falsely claimed to be a foster kid, when your truth, is anything but. Some of us are your fans…for now.
Place is the founder and project leader of Mind The GaP.