Talking to our children about racism is not easy, nor is it fun. Families of color have the heartbreaking job of telling their kids that some people in the world don’t see them as equal. White families have to show their children that their job is to stand up for others and embrace differences. If you’re looking for a good place to start, you might be able to gather some tips from an unlikely source: The many celebrity parents who have shared how they talk to their children about race and racism.
“[R]egardless of money or status, they’re always going to have their skin color,” Chrissy Teigen recently told Marie Claire of broaching the issue with 4-year-old Luna and 2-year old Miles.
Celebrity parents, for us, illustrate the fact that the talk about racism looks different for different types of families. That’s become very evident as we read and watch interviews with Black artists like Alicia Keys, Regina King, Kerry Washington, and David Oyelowo, who have had to work out how to build up in their children a pride in their roots with so much caution for the way certain law institutions are set up to treat them. White parents of mixed-race or adopted Black children — most famously, Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron — also have to navigate some tricky waters, acknowledging their own privilege and choking back the horrible truth that there are still so many out there who see their babies as lesser.
Then there are the white parents of white children who have come to realize that there should be no such thing as shielding our children’s innocence when it comes to racism. They’re old enough to see race and to understand unfairness as toddlers, so that is when the time is optimal for parents to show them how to stand up for others. This June, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, many white celebs decided to admit that they were just waking up to the state of race relations in this country, and they promised to bring up their children with their eyes wide open to injustice and to become actively antiracist.
Maybe it seems strange to turn to the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Blake Lively, or Kristen Bell for lessons on race and parenting. They’re certainly not where the conversation should end. We’re just taking this moment to applaud all of these famous moms and dads for using their platforms to share that they have taken this important step. The more everyone hears about these conversations from all aspects of their lives, the more they become the status quo.
Here are some of our favorite quote from celebrity parents on teaching their children about racism.
A version of this story was originally published in July 2020.