Jada Pinkett Smith is once again diving into some painful memories about her family growing up, specifically her father.
And this time, the actress, 47, brought in another person, her younger half-brother, Caleeb Pinkett, who could also speak to the struggle. On the most recent episode of Red Table Talk, the mother of two recalled how her father, Robsol Pinkett, Jr., was “a shared source of pain” for the siblings.
“We had a lot of resentment,” Pinkett Smith began on the Facebook Watch show. “We had that feeling like we had to be responsible for him, but he never had to be responsible for us, and that was a hard pill for me to swallow.”
Both Pinkett Smith and her brother have since tried to let go of the negative emotion their father brought into their lives through his drug addiction, which ultimately led to his death in 2010. But Smith still often returns to one defining moment in their relationship, one of their last conversations.
“The most difficult part of him dying like that is ’cause he and I had had a horrendous fight when I found out that he relapsed,” Pinkett Smith said. “I was like, ‘I don’t owe you nothing.’ You didn’t do s— for me, you didn’t do s— for Caleeb. I don’t owe you nothing.’ It was one of those.”
After Pinkett revealed he had a similar exchange with his dad, the A Different World alum continued: “I was furious … and he told me, that’s what the disease is. This is who I am.”
The loss of their father made her little brother a man, Pinkett Smith recollected, because she was unable to step up at the time.
“He had to go identify the body, he had to take care of the funeral arrangements, and to have that happen and I didn’t have to take care of it? He had it,” she said. “The way he handled it was with so much strength and so much grace, and that’s when he really grew up to me in that moment. To have my little brother be able to step up for me, was an amazing moment.”
In many ways, losing her father helped Pinkett Smith better understand and begin to forgive him.
“I had the most startling realization that Rob’s life wasn’t about him being my father,” she mused. “Rob’s life was about Rob being on his journey, and it just so happened along the way that he gave me life … And in that moment I realized he was not born to be my dad. That wasn’t the only thing he was here to do. He’s a person first with his own journey.”
She added: “That was my aha moment of utter forgiveness, to be able to see him as human being … That’s when I started, even in my own life, tearing down all these titles and labels. We get so caught up in all these titles and these labels of what people are supposed to be. For the last seven years I’ve been in search of emotional independence. That has been the greatest gift in my journey.”
Pinkett recently revealed another aspect of her troubled family history. Also on Red Table Talk, Pinkett Smith, her daughter, Willow Smith, 18, and her mother, Adrien Banfield-Jones, 64, had an emotional conversation about domestic violence.
“I knew that my mother and my father had a very violent relationship early on,” Pinkett Smith said in an introduction. “She has a couple scars on her body that, as a child, I was just curious. I was like, ‘Oh, Mommy, what’s that? What’s that?’ … This will be the first time that Willow’s actually heard these stories about her grandfather who she knew.”
The family discussed Banfield-Jones’ scar on her back from the time that Pinkett Smith’s father “threw” her “over the banister” and a black eye that he gave her.
“Not to make this like an excuse … but he was typically in an altered state when he was abusive like that,” Banfield-Jones said. “He was typically drunk.”
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“I think women stay because they think that they’re in love,” she noted. “That’s what it was for me. I thought that it was love.”
Banfield-Jones then revealed a time when she “actually ran for my life,” causing her to end the relationship.
“He was pissed off about something. I don’t even remember what the argument was about,” she said. “He started hitting me, and he was in a rage. I was backing out of Daddy’s den into the master bedroom, and you were still in the den, and I said, ‘Oh my god, we left Jada.’ I knew that he wasn’t going to hurt you.”
“He left the room to go get you, and I went through the bedroom out the master bath and down the steps and ran across the street to the neighbor … for them to call and get me some help,” she continued. “That was it. Mommy was like, ‘That’s enough of that. We’re done.’”
Pinkett Smith also talked about a better side of her father. “Once he did get sober, he was really a gentle soul,” she said. “Now that I’m older, I have so much more compassion in knowing what he had gone through.”
“I remember having some experiences with him that are very good,” Willow concluded.