The Fresh Prince of Boycotting

“If they don’t want us, we don’t want them” – Salt-N-Pepa, in response to the institution’s refusal to televise the 1989 rap category.


502nd Air Base Wing

According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Black History Month dates back to 1915. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the ASALH and Black History Month, chose the month of February for the observance because it includes the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Tommy Brown/Released)

By Gaurang Dhingra, Staff Writer

Before his Fresh Prince days, Will Smith was highly involved in music; specifically, the genre of rap.

In 1989, Smith and his musical partner DJ Jazzy Jeff were invited to the Grammy Awards Ceremony since they were nominated for ‘Best Rap Performance’, a newly added category. They accomplished this through their song, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”.

The duo was initially thrilled about being nominated for the award; however, they weren’t quite as thrilled upon learning that the rap category wasn’t among the 16 categories that would be televised. Smith and Jeff both boycotted the ’89 Grammy Awards, and other nominees for the category followed suit.

Will Smith, in fact, did not attend any Grammy Awards until 1998 when he accepted an award for the ‘Best Rap Solo Performance’ category, during which he referenced his boycott in 1989.

To this day, Smith continues to stay firm in his beliefs, as he and his wife refused to attend the Oscars in 2016 due to inadequacies in diversity among nominees.