In the process of greeting the Knowles-Carters at the March 30 commencement of the NAACP Image Awards, after shaking hands and taking a thumbs-up picture with JAY-Z, Omari Hardwick kissed Beyoncé — first on the cheek, then near the mouth. Now, the Power actor is receiving backlash on social media for seeming to unnecessarily invade a woman's space.
The 30-second clip has circulated on social media since the event occurred. In it, Beyoncé is surrounded by people and is doing her best to greet and briefly converse with each one. Hardwick finds her and goes in for a hug, kisses her cheek, and then goes back for a second kiss on her cheek. It's unclear what he was trying to accomplish with that second gesture, but judging by her body language, Bey seems uncomfortable. Although, it's important to note that Beyoncé has not shared her feelings about the encounter at this time.
Still, her fans were quick to respond to Hardwick's actions, with many using the moment as an opportunity to discuss how the invasion of women's private spaces in public settings occurs far too frequently. "I dont presume to know how Beyonce feels but...ughhh that Omari Hardwick sh*t reminds me of encounters I've had with some men," Twitter user @D0MXNXQUE wrote. "Then you dont want to say anything because then people will look at you like you're overreacting, so you just suffer being uncomfortable."
It's hard to believe that one would have the guts to pull such a move on Queen Bey. In fact, some people see it as simply an awkward interaction — an endearing greeting gone wrong out of nervousness. "The video of Omari Hardwick and Beyonce is definitely awkward as hell," @_Azryah tweted. "But I think that's it. An awkward interaction. I don't get what this extra stuff is all about."
Perhaps that's the case — there's no way of knowing for sure unless Beyoncé herself speaks out. However, many people don't think it was an innocent mistake. "2nd kiss was unnecessary & uncomfortable," @farhana_io wrote. "Don’t do that again. We women so often get touched, kissed, groped & poked in instances exactly like this (at an event, at work, etc). WE DON’T LIKE IT. It's time to no longer let these moments of discomfort slide." Twitter user @HPchildofthe80s tweeted, "NOPE. This is a classic example of a guy being too close for comfort under pretense of social interaction. And it happens FAR TOO OFTEN. #Boundaries #BackOff."
The situation is reminiscent of the one Ariana Grande found herself in at Aretha Franklin's funeral. According to Billboard, after she performed Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, who was officiating the service, wrapped Grande in an awkward hug that placed his hand against one side of her chest. Grande was visibly uncomfortable. The hashtag #RespectAriana began trending on social media and the bishop eventually apologized.
"It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast. ... I don't know I guess I put my arm around her," Ellis said in an interview with the Associated Press. "Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize."
So far, there hasn't been a public apology from Hardwick nor a comment from the Knowles-Carter family. But for now, the moment has sparked a conversation surrounding why women's private spaces should be respected in social situations that's long overdue.