Raising Black, brown, and multi-racial kids in a world with deep, centuries-long racist roots has always been a daunting, frightening, anxiety-inducing challenge for parents of non-white children. But today more than ever, it’s brazenly clear just how stacked society is against people with deeper, darker skin tones — simply because of their skin tones.
Smartphones, social media, and a 24/7 news cycle have both helped to begin the long overdue conversations about how non-white people are treated and created a severe overwhelm about how often Black, brown, and multi-racial people are discriminated against, from microaggressions to full-blown violent attacks.
.@ReginaKing, @ReeseW, and @ricky_martin are speaking to their kids about racism — and we love to see it. https://t.co/iZHXIQeQY8
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) July 17, 2020
After George Floyd’s deeply disturbing murder in 2020, the conversation around how Black folks in particular have been (and still are) mistreated in society took off, with everyone from the mailman to household celebrity names contributing to the call for a more just, fair, equitable world — especially for the little Black, brown, and multi-racial kids who are currently growing up.
Racism, both on a global scale and in the United States, is a highly complex, ever-evolving history to unpack and navigate, and the following celebrity parents with Black and multi-racial kids know that better than most. From Ciara and Russell Wilson to Meghan Markle and Ellen Pompeo, these famous figures have spoken out about their fears, struggles, anxieties, and hopes for their Black and multi-racial children — all in the name of creating a better world for their precious babies.
Meghan Markle spoke out about raising multi-racial children at Fortune’s “Most Powerful Next Gen Summit” in October 2020. She explained, “The things you’re able to tolerate on your own are not the same that you are going to put your child in a position of vulnerability for. You go every single day: ‘How can I make this world better for Archie?’ That is a shared belief for my husband and I.”
During a 2016 episode of Rosé Roundtable, Zoe Saldana explained, “My husband is an immigrant. I’m first-generation. It is a necessity for us to raise our children with our roots so that they can communicate with their grandparents. But also so they can create some kind of empathy for human beings that do not look like them and do not sound like them and do not smell like them.”
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, Ciara posted a photo of herself with her eldest son, Future. She wrote, “I pray that when you get older A CHANGE will finally have come. I’m going to keep my FAITH! I’m praying that the losses of our Black Kings and Queens won’t be in vain.”
The singer continued, “Enough is enough! I’m praying for UNITY! I’m praying for the powers that be to unite and decide that it’s time for a change!
Like his wife, Russell Wilson also expressed his fears about raising Black children in today’s tumultuous society. “I fear for their lives just like my grandmother feared for my dad’s life and the lives of her other children,” the NFL player wrote on Instagram. “I fear because of the color of their beautiful chocolate skin.”
In 2020, Shay Mitchell explained to Entertainment Tonight the various things she and Matte Babel are doing with their daughters to teach them about race to ultimately empower them as they grow.
“We’re reading books, one of [Atlas’] nighttime books is A is for Activist. We’re starting her right now because I think it’s so important to educate them at a young age so they know that truly no matter what you look like, you deserve to love and be loved without judgment, be all, and end all, and that’s it. Especially coming from a mixed family herself. I hope it’s in our generation, and I really pray that it’s in hers as well that there will be a huge change, and I slowly see it right now.”
La La Anthony
Taking to Instagram to express her worries like so many other parents, La La Anthony wrote, “I’m mad because my son is 13 years old and this is the world he’s growing up in. He’s seeing how much his life matters right in front of his eyes. It’s sad. It’s scary. I stand with all the families demanding justice.”
Jamie Foxx gave an emotional speech in Minneapolis in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, during which he said, “As I sit with my two daughters, my nephews… It overcomplicated things as a Black man trying to tell his sons and daughters how to function in life. Even the things that we’ve taught them don’t seem to work.”
Retired NFL player Victor Cruz shared a heart-wrenching story about explaining racism to his daughter in 2020. He wrote on Instagram, “I had the most difficult conversation with my daughter about the color of her skin last night. How there are people in this world that will dislike you solely because of your race and background. Without ever knowing your story or struggles. [I could] tell she was a bit confused at first but she nodded in agreement right before falling asleep. I nodded in sadness as she slept. This is America.”
During a 2021 interview with i-D, Gigi Hadid was asked how she and ex-partner Zayn Malik approach parenting their multi-racial daughter. The model shared, “We think about it and talk about it a lot as partners, and it’s something that’s really important to us, but it’s also something that we first experienced ourselves. Because both of our parents are their own heritage.”
She continued, “We are that first generation of those mixed races, and then that comes with that first generational experience of being like, ‘Oh damn, I’m the bridge!’ That’s not something that my parents experienced or that they can really help me through. It’s something I’ve always thought about my whole life.”
Hadid went on “In certain situations, I feel – or I’m made to feel – that I’m too white to stand up for part of my Arab heritage. You go through life trying to figure out where you fit in racially. Is what I am, or what I have, enough to do what I feel is right? But then, also, is that taking advantage of the privilege of having whiteness within me, right? Am I allowed to speak for this side of me, or is that speaking on something that I don’t experience enough to know?”
She concluded, “I think that Khai will grow up feeling out the way that she can or wants to be a bridge for her different ethnicities. But I think that it will be nice to be able to have those conversations, and see where she comes from it, without us putting that onto her. What comes from her is what I’m most excited about, and being able to add to that or answer her questions, you know?”
During a 2020 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ashley Graham explained, “When you’re in an interracial relationship, it’s even more of a duty for the white person to ask questions and to gain as much information as possible. This is a time to not shy away from this. This is a time to have deep conversations about discrimination and racism in America. Our children need to know what’s happening.”
The model and mom of three continued, “They need to know the facts. Because if they’re going out on the street and they’re not armed with the proper information, we don’t know what’s going to happen. So, this is something that we don’t take lightly, and I don’t take lightly.”
“As a father I’m worried about the future of our next generation of Black men & the generations after that & the ones after that,” Kevin Hart captioned an Instagram photo of himself with his son Kenzo. “If we do not do our job right now and do what we can to have a law put in place to help us feel protected in these streets, then this type of crime will continue to happen without a worry in the world.”
Kimora Lee Simmons
Kimora Lee Simmons shared how her own experience being bullied for her mixed race affected how she taught her children to treat others. She told Working Mother in 2009, per PEOPLE, “I was a mixed-race girl with a Korean-Japanese mother and an African-American father, and none of the other kids at my school were like me. I was nearly six feet tall by the time I was 11 years old. Everything about me seemed to be a source of ridicule to other kids: my face, my height, the texture of my hair, my body shape.”
The Baby Phat CEO continued, “As my mom did for me, I’m helping my own girls learn about tolerance — to respect differences in culture, religion and even the way we look. I also try to set boundaries, let them know what’s expected and give them room to develop and grow. I will do the same with my infant son.”
During a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk, Ellen Pompeo shared, “My challenge with raising brown children is how much do you say to them and how much do you not say to them?”
The actress explained a situation that unfolded between herself, her daughter, and a friend of her daughter’s, saying, “[The] little girl came in [our house], and I introduced myself, and I said, ‘I’m Stella’s mom.’ And she looked at me, and she was, like, almost scared, and then she went right to Stella, and she said, ‘That’s your mom? I thought that was your mom,’ and pointed to the nanny.”
She continued, “The little baby looked like she was scared of me. That just breaks my heart… That’s why that experience of being in my house and meeting me was good for her — to see that all white people aren’t what you think.”
In a 2022 interview with Refinery29, Jodie Turner-Smith shared, “At the end of the day, I am raising a biracial daughter. I’m raising a girl who does not look exactly like me, who is lighter than me. I want to figure out how I can raise her to have an understanding of white supremacy, of colorism, of how she benefits from that, of how she does not benefit from that, of how to have these kinds of conversations in a way that is really powerful and empowering.”
During a 2020 Engineering a Better World speech, Alexis Ohanian spoke of the frustrations and anxieties he feels on behalf of his wife, Serena Williams, and their multi-racial daughter, Olympia. “As a husband, you just get outraged, and then especially now in the role as a father, I just can’t help but want to create a world that is just fair to my daughter. And I know that that’s lofty, but it’s a thing worth striving toward.”
Nicole Ari Parker
After attending a protest with her daughter, Nicole Ari Parker wrote on social media, “As a mom we want to anchor their happiness and confidence and self-esteem but can’t always keep up with the insane amount of news, hatred, violence, evil explanations, preparations, violations and isolation… and still protect them. It hurts to take their innocence away in order to survive.”
Jhené Aiko told Billboard in 2021, “I think it’s important for people to share their stories in general. I think we should be sharing them more so to learn from one another and not judge each other. Especially because I have a daughter, I want her to see me live my life as my most authentic self so that she can be inspired to do the same. We just love ourselves, we love our family, we love our roots and everything that makes us who we are.”
Priyanka Chopra, who has previously spoken out about being bullied in high school because of her skin color, explained during a conversation with Lilly Singh, “As a new parent right now, I keep thinking that I will never be imposing my desires, fears, my upbringing onto my child.”
The actress continued, “I have always believed that children come through you, not from you. There is no belief like ‘this is my child, and I will shape everything.’ They come through you to find and build their own life. Recognizing that really helped me, my parents were very nonjudgemental in a certain way.”
In a 2019 interview with Jenna Bush Hager on The Today Show, Kim Kardashian discussed her inspiration for pursuing criminal justice work. She explained, “When you become a mom, you become so protective. You want to hopefully make their world the most perfect place ever, and ours obviously isn’t.”
The media mogul continued, “I definitely see how Black men are treated in this country … and I’m raising two Black men, so I want to make sure that my world and their world is as safe and as fair as possible.”
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