When former NFL pro Emmanuel Acho released the first episode of his video series Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man earlier this month, Chip Gaines said he gathered wife Joanna Gaines and their five children to watch it and discuss. Two weeks later, the family appeared on the third episode to confront their “blind” spots when it comes to racism, and what they’re doing to change.
In the new video, Acho says that when he reached out to Chip, he said, “I brought my entire family of seven together because 30 years ago I saw the L.A. riots, and 30 years later I’m seeing these riots, and I will not let that happen again.”
We’ll set aside the fact that it’s not too helpful to call the current, mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests “riots,” and focus on the good of that quote. This is the first time that many prominent white people are pausing to listen to Black folks to ask what they can do differently. Last week, Matthew McConaughey sat down with Acho to do so. Now it’s the Gaines family’s turn, and one thing they know to start with is how they teach their kids about race.
Thank you Emmanuel. The gaines family is listening.. https://t.co/5JfUZ3z6j0
— Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) June 3, 2020
“Chip and I were talking and this whole idea of this color blind thing came up and Chip said, ‘You know, I’m proud I think our kids are colorblind,'” said Joanna, who is half-Korean. “And then we started kind of pushing back on that. And I think our question to you is, what’s the best way to move forward with this conversation?”
True to his show’s title, Acho made a rather uncomfortable analogy about how he didn’t grow up around dogs but did have a sister who was attached by one. Now he’s scared of all dogs and doesn’t know the difference between one that’s a danger and one that’s a pet. (Not the comparison we’d choose, but OK.)
“I think that if we don’t see color, if we don’t expose our children to different colors and to different races, that it will be the same thing as if a white kid who becomes an adult and won’t be able to decipher the difference between a Black man that is a threat and a Black man that’s just Black,” Acho said. “A Black person won’t be able to decipher between a white person that’s a racist and a white person who’s just white and may happen to be racially ignorant.”
It would be really nice if those weren’t the only choices, but that is where he sees things at the moment.
“I think there’s a strength, there’s a beauty in seeing color,” Acho continued. “I don’t like the concept of color blindness because colors and cultures are beautiful.”
An even better moment in the show comes when 10-year-old Emme asks a question most adults wouldn’t dare to: “Are you afraid of white people?”
“That’s what I love about children,” Acho laughed. “Emme, that is a phenomenal question. I’m not afraid of white people. I am cautious of white people.”
This time, he compared Black and white people to water and electricity. They can exist together side by side, but if they have a negative interaction, it’s lethal.
Acho ended on a hopeful note, heartened by the way the Gaines parents were involving their kids in this conversation.
“I think the beautiful thing of children and about children is that we learn things as kids and it develops us as adults,” Acho said. “Which is why you all being here with your children is a powerful thing.”
Teach children the beauty of differences with these books by Black authors and illustrators.