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“I think for now I’ll let that office get cleaned up a little bit and then I’ll consider that at some point down the line,” Smith said. “I absolutely have an opinion, I’m optimistic, I’m hopeful, I believe in understanding between people and I believe in the possibility of harmony. I will certainly do my part, whether it remains artistic or, at some point, ventures into the political arena.”
Back in 2015, Smith said on CBS’ Sunday Morning that he felt compelled to run for President in light of Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric during his presidential campaign, but didn’t mention him by name. “If people keep saying all the crazy kinds of stuff they’ve been saying on the news lately about walls and Muslims, they’re going to force me into the political arena,” he said.
Those remarks came after Smith appeared on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast and used somewhat similar phrasing to discuss a potential future in politics. “And, you know, as I look at the political landscape, I think that there might be a future out there for me,” he said. “They might need me out there. This is the first year that I’ve been incensed to a level that I can’t sleep, you know? So I’m feeling that at some point, in the near future, I will have to lend my voice to the conversation in a somewhat different way.”
On the Pod Save America podcast, Smith was asked about dealing with racism and how those experiences have shaped his worldview. “I’ve been called [n-word] to my face probably five or six times. And fortunately for my psyche, I’ve never been called [n-word] by a smart person,” he said. “I grew up with the impression that racists and racism were stupid, and they were easy to get around. I just had to be smarter now while they were very dangerous. I had never looked into the eyes of a racist and saw anything that I perceived as intellect.”
The topics of politics and racism were also touched upon in his 2016 appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In regards to the latter issue, Smith was optimistic at the time, clinging to the old saying that it’s always darkest before the dawn. While he might have been incorrect about his assessment of where the country was headed, he did deliver a meaningful quote that is sadly still relevant nearly five years later, saying, “Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”