Sandra Bullock Is Being Praised For Sharing The Brutally Honest Conversation She Had With Her Black Son About Racism When He Was 6 After Admitting She Sometimes Wishes Her Skin "Matched" His
“I said, ‘People are scared and will react to you differently than if you were a white boy.’ And he knows it. I let them see everything. I let them hear and know everything."
Sandra Bullock has opened up about how she’s navigating the subject of race while raising her Black children.
The Hollywood actor is mom to Louis, 11, and Laila, 9, whom she adopted in 2010 and 2015, respectively.
Sandra — who has long been open about how she handles the topic of race with her children — has previously been praised for her raw and honest approach, along with her decision to educate them on the subject from a young age.
Appearing on the Red Table Talk show this week, Sandra spoke with host Jada Pinkett Smith — alongside daughter Willow Smith and mom Adrienne Banfield-Norris — about the reality of raising her Black children, admitting that she sometimes wishes their skin colors “matched.”
“To say that I wished our skins matched…sometimes I do,” Sandra said. “Because then it would be easier on how people approached us.”
Sandra continued, “I have the same feelings as a woman with brown skin, and it being her babies. Or a white woman with white babies.”
Interjecting in response, Willow weighed in to share her own thoughts on the subject, saying that a difference in skin color doesn’t influence or change the bond between a parent and their child.
“It’s the mother–child dynamic,” she said. “There is no color.”
Sandra jumped back in amid Willow’s comments, saying, “Maybe one day that will go away. Maybe one day we will be able to see with different eyes.”
Elsewhere, Sandra — who is currently starring in The Unforgivable, a film about “a system of unfairness” — shared a touching anecdote while speaking about the wider nature of prejudice faced by those who are “disenfranchised.”
Speaking to the Grio, Sandra recalled a heartbreaking yet crucial conversation about racial profiling that she had with her son when he was just 6 years old, after she saw him wearing a hoodie.
“I have a beautiful Black son,” Sandra said. “At the age of 6, he popped on a hoodie and I was like, ‘We’re gonna have a conversation. It’s different for you.’”
“I was like, ‘What does it look like you’re doing with the hoodie?’” Sandra went on. “And he says, ‘Well, I look like I’m hiding.’”
Sandra said that after asking her son if he had “anything to hide” — which he said he didn’t — she told him, “Then you don’t need to wear [the hoodie] outside.”
“I said, ‘People are scared and will react to you differently than if you were a white boy,’” Sandra added. “And he knows it. I let them see everything. I let them hear and know everything.”
The Gravity actor went on to note that she feels she’s responsible for making her children aware of the dangers they face as a result of racism when out in the world.
“I don't care if it scares them because it’s my job to let them know that outside of these safe walls, things are different,” Sandra said. “But they know how safe they are in my house.”
“It’s a scary thing to be a parent in general,” she continued. “It’s a scary thing to think that when your beautiful son grows up and becomes a man, someone’s not going to treat him the way that you treat him simply because of the color of his skin.”
“It breaks my heart. It makes me full of rage. It makes me afraid,” she added. “But all I can do is my job, protect them, enlighten them, and show them their power, show them how to be safe. But the system is not fair.”
Sandra's comments were met with widespread praise, with many people thanking her for speaking so honestly.
“Thank you #SandraBullock,” one person tweeted. “Truth is crucial. Learning what that truth is from POC instead of the privileged & biased is necessary. When you finally get it, see it & fully respect it... you can honor truth & POC. You can never again not see the glaring injustices & inequities.”
“She always understood empathy,” another user wrote. “I've always respected her for it. Since day one adopting her son she kept it real.”
This latest praise comes six years after Sandra was commended for speaking out about her decision to educate her children on “the ugliness in the world” for their own safety, revealing in particular that she’d had conversations with her son about different kinds of prejudice.
“It's an open conversation that we have,” she told BET in 2015. “He doesn’t understand why people judge each other based on the color of their skin, but he knows they do. He also knows that there’s sexism, he knows that there’s homophobia. He knows a lot for a 5-and-3/4-year-old.”
Sandra went on to address the responsibility parents have to speak with their children about such topics early on in their lives, regardless of how difficult it might be.
“I think if you don't start the conversation very early on, you're doing them a disservice,” she said. “I can't ride in a bubble with [my son]. I want him to know the truth, but I also want him to know the good in the world as well.”
Sandra continued, “Those are hard conversations to have, you know. 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,” she added. "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."