Sandra Bullock is doing promotion for Our Brand is Crisis, the George Clooney produced film in which she plays a campaign manager hired to help the Bolivian President win reelection. The film costars Billy Bob Thornton and Anthony Mackie and is out October 30.
A couple of weeks ago, we saw Sandra on the cover of Glamour, where she opened up about her fears for her son, Louis. Sandra adopted Louis, now 5, from New Orleans, and she told Glamour that she worries about his future in our country. She said “I want my son to be safe. I want my son to be judged for the man he is… If I could ride in a bubble with him for the rest of his life, I would. But I can’t.” In a new interview with BET, Sandra expanded on that, stating that she’s taught Louis about racism and other forms of bias like sexism and homophobia. She added “He doesn’t understand why people judge each other based on color of their skin, but he knows they do.” It was a kind of sad reality check, considering that she’s talking about a kid who’s kindergarten age. Here’s more of what Sandra told BET:
On if she teaches her son Louis about racism
Absolutely. It’s an open conversation we have. He fully understands what that means. He doesn’t understand why people judge each other based on color of their skin, but he knows they do. He also knows there’s sexism, he knows that there’s homophobia. He knows a lot for a 5 and 3/4 year old, but I think if you don’t start the conversation very early on you’re doing them a disservice. I’ve said it before I can’t ride in a bubble with him. I want him to know the truth but I also want him to know the good in the world as well but those are hard conversations to have.
“Do you find that difficult to balance sometimes?”
Not at all. It’s not a conversation any parent wants to have with their child. It’s not any conversation any parent wants to have with their child, is that you’ll be judged by the color of your skin rather than the content of your character. But it exists, and I want him to be safe and I want him to be aware. Once he leaves that house and I’m not with him, it’s his life and how he approaches it is his decision. But I want to know that I did the best I could as his mom to educate him on the ugliness in the world, and also the beauty.
[From BET via US Magazine]
That was incredibly well put, especially considering that Sandra was on a press circuit and was likely fielding questions all day. She could have given a half-assed answer, but this is something she cares about and thinks about deeply. I have a son and I also taught him early about prejudice, but we have the benefit of being white and all the advantages that go along with that. It’s got to be harder when you see the dangers that your child can face as a person of color.
Header image is from July, 2014. Images below are from March, 2015 (with Louis and friend) and September, 2015 (with Clooney at TIFF) Credit: FameFlynet
I love how Sandy tries bangs and different lengths with her hair. She is someone who looks great with hair at any length, and it always looks so healthy. 🙂
Weaves usually are healthier than real hair.
oh yeah, a kid at nearly 6 fully understand racism, homophobia? I think that’s belittling the reality of prejudice. maybe she’s belittling it to send a message that even a kid can understand this but I disagree. to fully understand means spotting subtext and messages sent subconsciously, and a 6 year old doesn’t get subtext.
Seriously? It’s like every celebrity quote on here lately, regardless of how innocuous or even positive it is, is completely distorted into being something ignorant and offensive.
I swear it didn’t used to be like this. This is why most celebrity interviews nowadays are boring puff pieces devoid of any opinion, stance or humor. It’s sad.
Agreed, Jenna. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Just imagine how much she would be torn to shreds if she allowed Louis to grow up completely sheltered in her celebrity bubble, with zero awareness of how he would be treated by the outside world just because of the color of his skin. Do I think he truly “fully” understands? Of course not, he’s only 5! But I get what she’s saying. He understands what it is as far as what it means, and that’s a good start. His understanding will grow and evolve as he gets older, but the fact that she’s already begun a dialogue with him is not something to turn into criticism because it’s not at the level some think it should be.
Agree with both of you. Good grief – I don’t know why anyone would want to be famous anymore, or (heaven forbid) actually venture a thought on a serious subject in public. I give credit to Sandra for engaging, without falling back on a simple sound bite answer.
It’s getting dangerous to speak about anything other than your stylist and jeweler. And even that’ll get you slammed.
People get an emotional high out of getting offended and getting validation from others.
She clearly didn’t say that. She said he didn’t understand why just that it happens. I’m 33 I don’t fully understand it! Can you honestly tell me you do? You can truly explain why people have hate in their heart for someone they don’t know based on what they look like or who they love? Because it is baffling to me! But I know that people do and I have known that since i was a child. My mother made sure I knew what the world was like and how wrong it was to feel that way, in a manner I could understand. Which is what I’m sure Sandra has done. And honestly she doesn’t have a choice!! There are people out their that hate that adorable little boy because of what he looks like, police think he is a threat she has to educate him and as sick as it is she has to start now. Do you honestly think she has gone into details or do you think she has explained it on his level? I bet she has explained it on his level, but her son needs to know.
K, I totally agree with you, it baffles me too… Will never understand the continous hate based on religion, skin colour or sexual orientation, or gender, or..
Easy: different=scary. End.
A child learns to read by understanding Dr. Seuss, not Shakespeare. Every conversation has to start somewhere and you’re focusing on the wrong thing in this one.
Exactly Eternal Side-Eye. I’m sure she is explaining it in 5-year-old appropriate terms and he probably DOES understand it, as it is being explained to him.
The important thing here is that the conversation has begun.
Can he write a dissertation on it? No. Does he understand that it happens? Yes. That’s all she said and that is perfectly okay.
My FIL is gay. I explained this to my kid when he was four, because he wanted to understand why grandma and grandpa did not live together, and why he had three grandfathers and just one grandma. Of course his understanding at that age was different than the understanding he has seven years later, but he has grown up considering that this is an absolutely normal course of events. They can absolutely understand big issues at a young age. If they grow up with lessons in equality from very early on, they become adults who will not tolerate racism, homophobia, mysoginy etc. I don’t know why this isn’t obvious???
Kids absolutely understand prejudice, they just understand it on a kid level. Research has found racial bias present very early through studies with doll choices and the like. Kids pick it up the way they pick up everything else around them. Sandra is doing the right thing and she is speaking about it with sensitivity and intelligence.
At six you get color. If you go to an inter-racial school children already categorize color based on parental preferences.
At pre-school age, children notice who looks the same based on skin color and such. But they don’t understand that you can be the same skin color and latino or black or indian until much later.
Understandings on Race happen when you are much older because it is convoluted
That two word quote for the title of the article was taken out of context. Read her full response in the article. She says “he doesn’t know why people judge but he knows they do”. So she’s not saying he fully understands……Would it be better if she didn’t talk to him about these issues? I applaud her for being honest here and I talk to my 5-yr-old & 9-yr-old about these issues. Should we wait and start when they can “get it” (can any of us really get it all?) or start young & make it an ongoing discussion? I think your comment was flippant and not productive to the discussion. Parents should start combating & dealing with these issues young……god knows my 3-yr-old was told by his peers & movies that girls were not as strong as boys in pre-school so why would I wait to tell him that is bs??? PS- I just had my bother-in-law tell me that my son was too young to find out about gay marriage & I was out of line to talk to him about it. Ummm…..He has 30 friends with a mom & dad and two friends with two moms. So he noticed & asked and he also didn’t care about my response (because it’s not weird and no big deal!). He just wishes now that he had two dads because “that would be more fun”.
Let’s not forget that 5-year-olds experience racism in all of its insidious forms. It’s better that he understands that it’s a force outside of him that will drive some people (e.g., teachers, police, etc.) to treat him differently than for him to internalize any poor treatment he receives and think that it’s something about himself. I’m a social scientist. All of the data shows that kids as young as Louis pick up on the ugliness of racism and can spew it themselves, even if they don’t quite understand why. It is good that he is buffered with this knowledge, rather than be sheltered by the many “colorblind” white parents who don’t equip their black children with the tools to negotiate and stand up against a racist world they will undoubtedly face at some point.
“It’s better that he understands that it’s a force outside of him that will drive some people (e.g., teachers, police, etc.) to treat him differently than for him to internalize any poor treatment he receives and think that it’s something about himself.”- This.
As a young Black child, I understood this concept as early as 3 years old. My mother, a White woman, remembered being very surprised that I was able to understand the difference between Black and White folks and that one was “better” to be. Also, many research studies affirm this. You kinda come off like an a** with your defensive and narrow minded comment.
Shi/! I’m 20+ and still don’t get it. If a 6 y/o completely understands, I need to hear the speech that she gave him.
Amen. I think he is in for a HUGE surprise as are most black kids in his position. It is IMPOSSIBLE to explain racism, the nuances and subtleties are so difficult to break down. Only the people who experience it can truly speak about it and truly share the war stories.
Sandra Bullock should leave this speech to the experts as she has no idea the effects racism has on a life. All the do-gooder, politically correct people of non-color on this site who feel they are experts on every topic in the world need to be quiet for once in their lives.
She lets him be around racist HoHandler, and her naked boobs, I imagine the kid “understands” a lot more than other kids his age.
He can’t fully understand at 6yrs old. Probably won’t understand living the life he has w/ his mother. He’ll understand when he becomes a teen/young/adult when the police pulls him over or stops him for walking around in his own neighborhood. He’ll understand then.
Can someone explain to me how does a 5 years old kid fully understands about racism? Maybe Sandra should stop being friends with Chelsea Handler and explain that to Louis. Mommy’s friend is a raciest so we are not friends anymore. Not buying this story.
Kids that young can’t understand and it’s a bit young to bring it up anyway. You don’t want to give a small child the impression that the world will be hostile to them. I have mixed race kids and you have to teach them many people are good but there are some insecure people who will put them down. But you don’t want to give them the impression everyone’s out to get them. I’m white and I’ve had people of color describe certain things that happen to them as racism when I have the very same experiences. It’s important to teach kids that a lot of people who mistreat them are doing because they’re jerks and they shouldn’t always assume racist motives. Otherwise they can end up thinking the world is far more hostile than it really is. I have mixed race girls and I don’t want them to feel their dreams and goals are out of reach by addressing sexism and racism when they’re so young still. The belief that the world hates you can be hugely damaging to young people. It’s hard to know a good age to start conversations about sexism, racism and homophobia but I don’t think kids younger than 7 or so will understand. Addressing bullying and meanness is probably better with younger kids. Also kids of all races need to be taught not to be racist. I live in diverse Southern California and almost all the bigotry I hear comes from people of color against other people of color.
Oh Em Gee. Just STAHP.
And then read Waking Up White.
YOU wrote: “I’m white and I’ve had people of color describe certain things that happen to them as racism when I have the very same experiences.”
As a person of color, let me just thank your whiteness, for setting ME straight on what’s racism and what isn’t.
You know me and my kind, always playing the race card when it doesn’t apply.
Psst. Also if you have had the exact same experience as your black friend, and she thought it racist – and you think it wasn’t because golly gee you’re white as snow …it might have happened because of your BLACK kids.
@Emma: Caro is right that some of those “It happened to me too” experiences could have been because of your children, or even because you’re a woman depending on what kind of experiences you’re talking about. And sometimes, it’s a matter of which groups of people are experiencing something most often instead of “are there any white people who experience this too.” One part of white privilege (and other types of privilege too) is not being in a position of having to worry that much about whether or not the reason you had a negative experience is because of race or skin color.
Kids younger than seven are experiencing it and need to be prepared to live and function in a world that, yes, IS hostile. One can strive and dream for more but people have to be moored in reality because they won’t be able to handle it when they face the inevitable. And it is inevitable.
At four years old, my biracial child was told that he could not play with other kids because “his skin was different.” Up until that point, I had not spoken to him about racism and the fact that he may be seen as “different.” But I had that conversation with him after that and regularly since then. 5 is not too young.
If it comes up it has to be addressed. But it often doesn’t and depending on where you live it can come up at different times. I have a nephew and niece who are teens now and they haven’t had negative experiences yet. I used to babysit a Jewish boy who had his first experience with anti-semitism at 10. My eldest is 10 and hasn’t encountered anything negative. Bringing up the possibility of experiencing bigotry to small kids who may not experience any for years can do more harm than good. But yes if something does happen early, you have no choice but to discuss it.
Five is definitely too young. A five year old who has encountered racism will understand racism just like a 5 year old who has experienced the death of a loved one will understand death. But most 5 year olds can’t truly understand. I have a 7 year old who is loved by her teachers and friends. If I was to tell her that some people may be mean to her due tp skin color she likely wouldn’t comprehend it. She’s around kids of all colors and everyone gets along. Racism is not part of her life experiences. And Emma makes a good point. Why bring up something that might damage a child’s self perception if it isn’t necessary at that point in their lives.
This shocks me..I have a an almost 4 year old and I am not aware that she thinks anyone is different by their skin. I have never heard her mention it. She has Barbies and dolls that are all colors and I have never seen her act like they are any different.
Do you think one kid learns the racism and then tells the other kids to behave this way that it is normal?
Kids won’t care about skin color unless they’re taught to hate. Bigotry in schools in many cases comes from teachers. Recently a teacher punished a little boy for being an atheist. Afterwards none of the other kids wanted to be friends with him. In response to WR, a guy on YouTube did an experiment to see if young kids understood stranger-danger. The moms told him their kids would run away if a stranger approached them. Instead the kids took his hand and walked off with him to see puppies he said he had in his car. The moms were stunned because they thought their kids understood something they were too young to understand. Just because you think you’re kids understand it doesn’t mean they do.
Emma: I am facing palming right now. If you think that kids in pre-school don’t notice differences and call them out then you are in serious denial & have never talked to or been a pre-school teacher. I don’t believe that pre-schoolers have negative connotations (necessarily) to the differences but they sure notice. Girls vs boys, etc. Denying that they notice and are influenced by movies, friends, disney, and your apparent unwillingness to talk about it is crazy. Just google kids talking about white barbies vs black barbies. You obviously don’t want to admit that your kids have thoughts & are influenced by things around them. It’s YOUR job to give them connotations & explanations (and not include racist, homophobic bs in with it). You are not doing them any favors by burying your head in the sand & making them feel bad about noticing difference. Teach them to celebrate differences…..and maybe you will learn something from your pre-schooler.
@Emma who said “Kids won’t care about skin color unless they’re taught to hate”
Actually No many scientific studies posit that humans are biologically wired to notice in group differences /similarities at an early age (as early as 2 ).
What many color blind advocates fail to understand us that there is nothing innately wrong with the color of ones skin so there is no reason to be “blind “to skin color differences, The problem is when children are taught to attach negative meanings to those differences
By all means teach your kids to love themselves and that we are all equal but failing to prepare them early for a world where people may (wrongly ) treat them differently because of what you look like is prolly why many biracial and transracial (adopted) preteens/teens tend to have higher rates of depression , social anxiety than the std population(gonna try to find study and link later )
Kcarp – I don’t know why it happened to my kid, to be honest. The teacher explained it away by saying that the kids at that age were becoming more “self aware” and that self-awareness included skin color and yes, exclusion of others who don’t look exactly the same. I don’t buy it. I assume that it was one kid who was raised in a racist/exclusionary home and took that to school and infected his friends. Because I see that sort of racism as a disease. All I know is that my child was very hurt, but felt better when I told him that things like that have happened to other people, but that he did not have to like the kids any less or pick HIS friends on any other criteria than that he liked being around them. He’s almost 12 now and has friends of all colors.
I think she misspoke. Her mistake was using the word “fully.” Some celebrities aren’t the smartest in the bunch.
But of course a 5 year old kids does NOT fully understand about racism! But unless you have a kid with Asperger’s or other disability, let me tell you, they can feel what’s going on. I live in a small town in Florida and let me tell you, there is a LOT of racism and thanks to the Asshole Trump all the racists now feel entitled to say whatever the hell they want to, there is an open door now for it. Kindergarteners have a sense of orientation and they know who is who, they call their friends “Indians” “Mexicans”, etc. I am a white Colombian, my husband is Caucasian and our youngest daughter was talking about her “Mexican” friend whom happens to be Venezuelan. Her best friend is Vietnamese and her parents call anyone who speaks Spanish “Mexican” just like the kids of the Caucasians call any Asian “Chinese”. The kids DO TALK ABOUT races, hair color, skin color and other traces to describe their classmates, now, racism comes from the PARENTS.
My 7 year old son has autism and he can understand and feel the same things a neurotypical child can, with only a few exceptions.
Fully understand? no. But when you are preschool age and your parents have to sit you down to tell you why someone doesn’t want to play with you because of the color of your skin you are forced to learn. Its about survival. My first experience with racism occurred before I even began school
She said he understands that it happens, not why. He fully understand there is racism and that it exists – that is all. I’m sure a 6 yo can fathom that. He can probably already relate to it as well. I’m sure there has been white kids whose parents give Louis the side eye and don’t want their kids having him over for birthday parties or play dates, etc. It happens early. She never said he understands every piece of racisim or convoluted actions and views.
I admire her ability to navigate such tricky territory with such a young child. Being white, my kids are in a very different place…so when they were very young I actually avoided talking to them about racism and homophobia so they could develop their own color- and sexuality-blind views.
They had classmates of all races and ethnic backgrounds and I thought pointing out discrimination and bias might be distracting from developing real friendships. And I have gay friends and felt that by telling them too much about homophobia they might second-guess their unconditional love for those friends.
Of course by the time they were in grade school those conversations began in earnest but I thought it was too much when they were very young.
Naive to think she’s taught him everything or that he can fully understand racism and how he’ll feel when he experiences. Because he will. She won’t be a to protect him and little sister from it.
I don’t think she believes he fully understands it or that she can know how he will feel. And I think she’s clear that she knows she can’t protect him, she just wishes she could.
i was going to comment on the innocence of children, and the tragedy of racism, but reading the comments above just made me want to get out of here. I guess the crazy follows anyone who is friends with the friends of the “enemy.”
I’m becoming very afraid to even venture a comment here anymore. I find myself endlessly editing so I don’t inadvertently offend someone.
Shannon, you can state your comment and start a meaningful conversation. If we all think alike there would be nothing to talk about, just saying.
No Shannon..I always enjoy your comments. Don’t be afraid!
KITTEN! OH, my Kitten, how I’ve missed you.
(not to mention Kiddo and Taterho…all the regs are missing these days…sadz)
I wouldn’t say that, I think it has to do with Chelsea only.
Chelsea has made racist remarks on one more than one occasion over the years. One of those remarks was her calling AJ kid Zahara who is black a monkey.
I don’t know about you but calling a child racist names because you don’t like their parent is beyond sick. Dating a black guy does not mean not racist.
The comment I was referring to was removed.
Plus 1000 times Kelly – Chelsea also called Pax an Eskimo..
I agree & my head was popping with “wtf?!”s when I read some of the above comments. Luckily I just scrolled down and feel a little bit better now. I think we should talk to kids about racism more- and learn from them. Innocence IS amazing & it’s been profound for me to open MY ears to my kids and hear what they think about judging/assumptions/racism/homophobia. Seeing them truly baffled by why one person would put down another person or hate them for the way they look or who they love reminds me just how illogical racism/homophobia, etc is.
This place has been really harsh as of late.
I think she needs to sit down on this… her son will never understand racism fully because of how he lives with her — it’s a sheltered life of bodyguards and mansions. Sure, he’ll face it in his private schools, but on a low-grade level.
Perhaps it would be better if she ignored the issue altogether? Because he is being raised in a privileged atmosphere, he surely won’t face any real racism in his lifetime.
That makes perfect sense to me.
@Talie, the sad truth is, racists doesn’t care if you’re POTUS or daughters (or sons) of POTUS; being son of Sandra Bullock or Bill Gates won’t protect them.
James Blake sure as hell didn’t benefit from being a a crazy successful tennis player in New York, within spitoon distance of Flushing Meadows.
That makes no sense. He won’t be protected 24/7. Eventually, he’ll start driving, going to stores, meeting new friends, etc and he won’t be immune to racism. Racists don’t care if you’re rich.
Exactly. We live in a fairly affluent community and my son is friends with one of the few black kids in the neighborhood. My son has been with him when he’s experienced racist comments from our bigoted, ignorant, supposedly-educated fellow neighbors and townspeople. He always replies with utmost politeness but I can’t imagine how he really feels. It’s disgusting.
Yup, because every second of every day every single human being he interacts with will recognize him as Sandra Bullock’s son and behave appropriately.
1. I didn’t say she should ignore…just don’t make sweeping statements. But based on her other statements, she lives in a bubble where she tends to see the best of everything, which is pretty common for wealthy folks.
2. Let’s see where he ends up in the future, but right now…his life is sheltered.
Of course his life is sheltered, he’s five years old. But even as a rich child of a celeb, even the simplest encounters — driving, walking down the street, going into a store — will be fraught with suspicion that his white peers will not have to face, just because of his skin color.
He’s already facing it because his mom has to talk about it in public; there’s a difference right there. Do the Garners talk about their need to talk to their kids about their whiteness and the impact it will have upon their lives?
It would be naive to think people don’t somehow mentally “tag” her son with the fact that he is black; what value they ascribe to that tag depends on them. When he hangs out with other rich kids, more of those rich kids will be white than black, and they’ll have learned things from THEIR parents. And one day, he’ll be big and getting out on his own. And if it happens to the President of the United States…
Yup. People sure will tag her son. I recall Sandra’s new bestie in the Huvane stable, Chelsea Handler, making fun of her when Bullock first adopted Louis, and trying to ridicule him by referring to him not by his name, but “BLACK baby.”
Emphasis in all caps is deliberate. She said it no less than 20x. That was the joke. Black baby black baby, black baby..etc.
About. an. infant. for. no. reason.
That’s why I have side-eyed Sandra for a few years.
Maybe she didnt know her then. But it’s hard to miss when some high profile person is ridiculing your child as a joke because of his race in public. I’m sure it got back to her. She values people like Handler over the dignity of her son? Ok.
Are you kidding? It doesn’t matter how wealthy his family is ,he is still black.Steven Spielberg is wealthier than her and his Black kids have dealt with racism and discrimination.
I think rich children of all races should learn about racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination even if they will never personally experience much of it because of their privilege. Just look at the many ignorant comments that have come from male and female celebrities lately (Matt Damon, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, etc). These people could have used a reality check from their parents early in life in order to better understand the reality for the majority of people on this earth.
More rich children need to learn how to empathize, especially since they will likely be the ones running corporations or the government. Even if Bullock’s son is lucky enough never to have to deal with racism because he is the son of a rich celebrity, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t know or empathize with men who look like him who face racism on a daily basis. He will be in a social and economic position to do a lot of good for others and it is better for him to understand reality than to be sheltered in a bubble of privilege and ignorance.
Ummmm…I think racism sucks & should be talked about even on a “low grade level”. What is racism on a “low grade level” anyway? So he was judged but not lynched and so they should “sit down” and not talk about it?
I think Sandra spoke rather eloquently about a confounding, persistent problem. At least she is not blinded by her privilege and aware that her son will be subjected to experiences she will never have and cannot fully explain to him.
I’m glad she’s at least trying and not pretending that the world will be kind to him if he is simply kind back. It’s a harsh reality but it’s a good one to learn early so the first experience with discrimination isn’t so shattering.
I’ve had to explain to my brothers why we won’t be supporting the Pan movie and as I spoke with them little by little they came to appreciate how unfair it is that whitewashing and other such acts happe .
I see a lot of knee jerk reaction here to a well thought out parenting tack. She’s an adoptive parent and absolutely must broach this topic with her son at the earliest age. He fully understands that people are judged based on superficiality because that’s what his brain is learning to do at five. This is the age where we learn to sort the people around us, the things, the world into categories we can better understand. The ‘race conversation’ for most parents in response to ‘so and so is black’ is to say that ‘everyone is equal’. A child doesn’t understand what that means, at all. Nevermind that being treated equally doesn’t mean being treated equitably. I highly recommend the book Nurture Shock, even if you’re a child free person. There is so much in there that explains the disconnect and how we can really break down the barriers of prejudice.
Yes, apparently it is better to acknowledge the differences between people, but make this diversity a good thing instead of insisting on raising your kids to be colourblind, because they’re simply not. So when my kid will point out that someone’s black, I should say something positive about that so she will file something positive in the category black (though my kid doesn’t point at people yet).
Mine hasn’t pointed at anyone yet but she did tell a lady on an airplane seat next to us that her teeth were disgusting. That was a really proud moment for me. She is 3, and yes I assumed she knew better.
Nah, they still do that stuff at 3. I’m sure the lady took that into account. At least I hope so!
@kcarp: You might consider her honesty as a positive point;-) Kids that age usually simply say what they think- it’s not really bad. Just uncomfortable for us…
Wilma & siri- +100! I live in a predominately white area & when my son (3 at the time) went into a bank and saw three black people working there he said “Mommy! This is where the people with dark skin are!” He said it in a loud, excited tone- that was a horrible moment for me. One of the women (who was black & heard him say that) looked at him, gave him a huge smile, bent down and said “hi”. I then talked to him about why it might make people uncomfortable to yell out that they have dark skin even if you notice by saying “what if people yelled out that you had red hair when you came into a room?” He said that would be awesome if people yelled about his hair….. he sees having dark skin as awesome as having red hair. But he did learn not to comment on people’s looks, bodies, etc- it’s not polite & the important part is not your intention but how it might make them feel.
I applaud her proactiveness.
I remember being insulted and bullied at school, because I was this only little black girl in the area.
Having parents that taught me self worth, I saw the bullies for what they were. Ignorant and abusive. It never affected me. I understood they were the problem. Not me.
It is important for parents to prepare their kids for these situations.
I’m surprised at the some of the comments. Is Sandra really doing a bad thing by trying to prepare her son early on for the world we live in? Children are exposed to so much. I have a group of about 10 kindergarteners in the afternoons and you’d be shocked at some of the things they’ve seen and heard. I think Sandra is handling this the way any loving and aware parent would. I agree that it’s a disservice to wait until situations “come up” to start teaching your child about things like racism and homophobia. And just because you THINK your child hasn’t been exposed to something doesn’t mean they haven’t been. They go to school with children of all different backgrounds and they also do not tell you everything they see and hear when they are away from you. I applaud Sandra.
I think it’s really good that she’s saying that she had this conversation with him. Being a celebrity, she has people who listen to her–and this is sensible advice/knowledge. IDK…..some people (who usually are white) don’t think it’s important, because they don’t know how it is to be black. My mom has this documentary series about the Civil Rights movement–Eyes on the Prize….my dad, who is white, honestly had no idea, until he watched them with her. He didn’t understand what it was to be black–despite being married to a black woman, and having black/biracial kids.
But yes–my mom had this conversation with me when I was little. I didn’t fully understand at all. Like I look white, except for my hair (which is dreadlocked now, yay!)…….so I never understood why she said I would be considered black, even though I looked white–so I thought that made me white.
And kids are MEAN (well, not all of them). But it sucks when you have to comfort your kid, because the other kids won’t play with him because he’s dark skinned i.e. what happened to my twin brother when we were in elementary school, and the only black kids there.
Virgilia: first of all CONGRATS on your locs!!!! I bet they look gorgeous!
My heart goes out to you and your brother. Kids can definitely be cruel.. Cruel kids come from cruel homes 😔 Your mom did the right thing by preparing you, even though as a kid you have perfect understanding of how people will treat you. It helps you identify racism when it comes your way and also teaches you how hurtful it is. It teaches you empathy and also helps you learn how to celebrate the differences of yourself and others, as opposed to just “tolerating” them.
They are coming…..my hair isn’t as “nappy” as my mom’s…..so it doesn’t loc as well. They’re a little fuzzy……..but I don’t like combing my hair, so it’s going to have to do.
“Cruel kids come from cruel homes”
ain’t that the truth…Louis CK touched on that on one of his shows. a young jock type embarrasses him in front of a date and Louis follows the guy home on the train so he can talk to the guy (I’m not sure Louis even knows why or what he’ll say) and finds out that the kid has a dad who talks to him and bullies him the way that he (the jock type) talks to other people. it was really sad and a great commentary on how people treat/prepare their kids for the real world.
I’m right there with you Almond Joy. I’m seriously SMH at some of these comments. Really didn’t expect this conversation to devolve into an argument. Shoot I was four and had a sense of what racism was. I couldn’t conceptualize it but I experienced it. Hearing adults praising and preferring the light skinned kids with good hair is just one example. I wish my parents would have talked to me about it as well given me the assurance that it was not okay. No diss to my parents whom I love. I don’t think they knew quite how to address it. Where I come from, lots of things were swept under the rug. Considered grown up stuff that would be explained to us kids when we were older.
Kudos to Sandra all the way for having this conversation with her son.
I Choose Me: your comments are heartbreaking. Sweeping things under the rug can set a child up for extra pain and heartache. I feel so bad 😔 This conversation is an important one! I’m glad that future generations are talking about things.
Sidenote: your parents definitely taught you kindness and empathy, I love them for that! ❤️
Oh yea–my mom told me this story about how her sister’s godmother chose her sister to be her goddaughter, because she was the lightest skin colored out of all of the kids. And so that aunt didn’t starve half to death (literally), because she spent all her time at her godmother’s house. THe other kids weren’t important, apparently.
I’m white, blonde and born in Mozambique. In 1980 we fled war and returned to Portugal. Portugal had a fascist regime up until 1974. Thousands of people were coming to Portugal from all the ex-colonies, white and black. Because of the regime, people were very ignorant about things and there was a lot of fear of loosing jobs, of who was coming here. Nobody was well welcomed. They used to call us “the returned” but it was a pejorative word. My dad started working at the bank, most of his colleagues wouldn’t even say good morning to him. I remember hearing comments like: “Oh, you greated them? But they are returned”. In my first grade ( so I was 6), there was a group of kids who found out I was from Mozambique. I will never forget being called the n-word, that I should go back to my country, near my siblings the monkeys. I used to go home crying saying I wanted to go back to Mozambique where people weren’t racist and xenophobe. So yes, kids fully understand racism, xenophobia and all stupid kinds of hatred, and we adults have to explain them and prepare them. Of course, what happened to me is nothing compared to what people go through sometimes. But it showed me some of the pain people who have to deal with racism and xenophia go through. It’s painful, hurtful and it has to be addressed even at a tender age. One can’t just wipe it under the rug and pretend it isn’t real.
I think it depends on what you say. I assume she’s telling her son that racism exists but that he should ignore those filled with hate and that he’s worth so much more than what some ignorant person says. I was followed home and taunted with snowballs by a boy calling me chink when I was in kindergarten. At the time I didn’t know why he was so mean and all I knew is that I was afraid and didn’t react. I just walked home and my mom said I was crying. Thats an awful thing to experience as a child and maybe if my parents had prepared me for the ugliness, it would have been better. But still, some part of me also thinks that if her boy hasn’t experienced it, focusing on such attitudes too early could cause him to see the world from a negative perspective.
I’ve been teaching my children about those same topics since they were around 5. O did so because my parents raised me to believe since white is my dominant race then that’s all I am even though I knew I looked different from other people (my father is Caucasian, my mother is Caucasian, African American and Native American). Knowing what I went through growing up not even knowing who I was was enough to not let me children go into the world unprepared. You should start teaching them young, my daughter cut her hair in school in K5 because the other kids made fun of her hair because her hair was different from theirs. My son has been experiencing stigma in his new school because he doesn’t act ‘black’. It’s hard for them but they know unfortunately that’s how the world is and we have to strive to make it better and that they can come and talk to us whenever about whatever. My daughters favorite saying now is ‘All the problems in the world and you’re mad because my parents don’t match? Puh leeze.’
As a black person, this seems defeating. My parents never sat me down and said ‘people will treat you differently.’ Why instill a sense of being different in a child so young? But she is the parent.
Because it’s better to introduce it early and when they’re young than wait for the first person to say something heart wrenching and know that was your child’s first experience rather than someone they love explaining it.
My first racial incident was in kindergarten by another child my own age so I absolutely support the idea of approaching the topic early. It didn’t hurt because I was clueless but it did teach me that it’s not something that can just be ignored.
I have a sorta funny story about something like that–
When my little sister was in preschool, she made a lot of “enemies”. Probably because of the three day biting spree she went on. Lol. She was kinda bad. Anyway–this classmate of hers told the teacher he hated black people (she was the only black kid in the class). So my mom wanted to talk to him. They were playing, having a good time in the sandbox, and she asked him if he liked her. He said yes. Then my mom said “I’m black, do you still like me?”. He said “no you’re not”. After a couple more minutes of convo, it went like this–he didn’t like my sister…’cause biting and brattiness. Someone told him she was black. So my sister= black. The only black person in the world. So he didn’t like her. He didn’t like black people. He didn’t like HER.
Hah! That’s cute. I got one for you in a similar vein, lol.
I was watching a special on TV about very orthodox Jews. Now I can admit I barely know anything about what the special was about because I wasn’t paying attention but my little brother was. The few scenes he saw (and he was about 5 or 6 I believe) was a pack of men in long black robes that went from their collar to covering their feet and very tall black hats) walking down a long church stone hallway looking very somber.
Well I suppose they mentioned what they were enough times that when the show went on commercial my brother said firmly “I don’t like Jews.” it was such a jaw drop moment, LMAO. Thank God no one was around to hear it because I could only imagine what any poor stranger would have thought. But yeah, it’s funny how innocently kids process labels but how their expression of those labels can be SO bad.
Because it’s better to be prepared? Because it’s something that’s going to happen. Especially if his world isn’t very diverse. I never experienced racism as a child until I moved from Guam (where it’s really rare to find any single race couples, beyond the locals–at least where I was), to a school in the US that boasted they were the most integrated school around….because it was 3% non-white i.e. 3 Asian kids and 2 black kids (me and my twin).
IMO, everyone should talk to their kids about race and different customs and cultures. It stops bullying and promotes understanding. Just because someone is different, doesn’t mean you need to tease them for it.
Virgilia, I agree and I wanted to tell you that I loved your story about your little sister and your mom. That was too cute. And your mom sounds great. Good for her for taking the time to sit with that child and figure out what was wrong. Hopefully, just meeting her put him on the right path:)
Some scientific studies posit that humans are biologically wired to notice in group differences /similarities at an early age (as early as 2 ).They believe its almost evolutionary i,e age old built in protection to distinguish enemy tribes etc. In modern society the problem comes when children are taught to attach negative meanings to these differences
I am bewildered by some of these comments so much Judgement its not like shes saying her child can write a dissertation on racial studies.She is just starting an important dialogue in age appropiate terms and she also mentions teaching him about the beauty in the world as well
Lets not forget that Sandra Bullock is a multimillionaire woman and most likely her son attends a very exclusive school where she has to deal with all the “Desperate Housewives” whom we know will belittle anyone who is not in their “category” and I am very familiar with them because I live in a middle/high class neighborhood and our local “Desperate Housewives” have their own little club, most of them are blondes with blue eyes and there are not minorities allowed. They are very subtle about it but you can tell who is who among them. My friends and I created a Spanish club and we invited some Asians friends in the community, they were very excited. Meanwhile at the preschool where our kids attend one of the desperate housewives called Corporate to complain about a Cuban teacher with Spanish accent saying that “Her son was going to grow up with an accent”. The good news is that our Spanish club now has expanded to be a Science club, also, as some of the parents are Engineers, Doctors, Nurses, we even have a Filipino mom who is a Mathematician!!. We post pictures of our STEM projects on facebook (to rub them on the desperate’s faces. I know is inmature) and our kids are doing really good in school. A few European couples just joined us a week ago. We only have one American mom and guess what….. she is from New York!! lol
Good for you guys! Seriously. I remember the judgy table of blond haired blue eyed moms who could never be bothered to be better than barely kind to anyone. They congregated like a pack of ducks and never invited any parents they hadn’t known since pre-k to join.
I forgot to mention that I live in Florida. I lived in NY for a while and boy oh boy there is a huge difference between North and South in this country. My 5 year old corrects people when they call someone “Mexican”. She knows that “not all people who speak Spanish are Mexicans, they come from different countries”. We like to travel and she has visited few countries and knows the basic geography. That’s why I applaud Sandra Bullock’s efforts because at that age the kids already hear comments at home that they repeat at school. Kids are kind, curious, they have loving souls, the parents are the ones that start poisoning their minds.
She’s smart to teach him what it means to be a Black person at such a young age. And I really believe that in some small way, he does understand some of what she’s saying. But she need not worry about his progression in race relations, as there are more than enough racist people that will “school him” on how Black he really is, and how much better they are than he is, and that is a simple fact that ALL Black people eventually are forced to have to learn to live with.
I truly admire Sandra. She is an amazing Mother. I love reading about her times with Louis. I give her extra kudos for having the courage to acknowledge racism and to teach her son about it. She is just awesome. I really like that she just seems so balanced.
She is amazing! Love her!
Serious question: I am a white woman married to a white man. We have a white daughter. We live in the North Carolina mountains, a predominately white area, where gay people and NGC people remain closeted out of fear. I NEED my child to grow up knowing that racism/homophobia/transphobia etc. are real and that she should have appropriate tools to understand them. What can I do to teach my child these things when she has never been exposed to them? I work in academia and taught in more diverse regions before job relocation moved us here. She is only 2, but I feel, like Sandra, that this dialogue needs to happen early. I fear that because of our white privilege, and our relative isolation from people who are “not like us”, including the very real fear that NGC people here feel to come out, that even if I talk to her about it, she won’t understand not only because of her age, but because she hasn’t seen it. One day she will live in the real world. I think that even taking her to the places I have lived and worked won’t suffice, because the difference in location will only cement her perception of “other.” What should I do?