Will Smith Oscars assault, Milwaukee alopecia support group leader responds

There are plenty of questions about what should happen to Will Smith for assaulting Chris Rock at the Oscars, and for some, the initial joke that sparked the assault hits close to home.

"I was kind of shocked," said Raeanne King.

"It was kinda crazy," said Mariah Cunningham.

"It was out of pocket, for sure," said Ethan Tourangeau.

It’s likely the first thing you saw scrolling through social media.

"I thought it was crazy," said Tavist Cannon. "I did not expect that from Will."

"I just thought, ‘Wow,’" said Erica Johnson.

"He’s warranted in some way, but maybe not a slap," said Isabellah von Drasek.

At the Oscars Sunday night, Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness. The actress has been open about her battle with alopecia. Her husband, Will Smith, then walked on stage and slapped Rock.

"I’ve heard of it, but I’m not exactly sure what it is, though," said King.

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"Yes. It's like the missing of patches of hair; right?" said Cannon.

"Yes. My mom actually had the condition," said von Drasek.

Alopecia causes the body to attack its own hair follicles, leading to hair loss. It affects 6.8 million people in the U.S. alone. It’s something Brittany Flogel has been living with for more than a decade.

"I don’t know if he didn’t know about her alopecia or not, but he definitely crossed the line," said Flogel, Greater Milwaukee Alopecia Support Group leader.

Flogel says Rock’s comment deserved a reaction.

"I don’t know necessarily about slapping him, but I did feel a moment of proudness because he was standing up for his wife," said Flogel.

She said every time she gets a negative comment about her hair loss, she turns it into an opportunity to educate.

"Everybody should learn to be kind more, and be more aware of what else could be going on and not judging people by their appearance," said Flogel.

So as "the slap" takes over social media, Flogel hopes people will pause their scrolling and learn about the condition that affects millions of people every single day. 

The Oscars film academy has condemned Smith's slapping and said it is exploring further consequences.


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