Gabrielle Union doesn’t want her children to have to “shape-shift” to fit in.
The 47-year-old actress has 18-month-old daughter Kaavia with husband Dwyane Wade, 38, and is stepmother to Dwayne’s children Zaire, 18, Zaya, 12, and Xavier, 6, from previous relationships and Union says she doesn’t want the kids to feel they have to change because of other people’s racism.
She explained to Self magazine: “I didn’t want to put the same thing on our kids as what we put on me. All I can ask of my kids is to be good people, but not to shape-shift constantly, out of a fear of scaring someone that’s committed to being afraid.
“When you realize how many decades I wasted trying to be something else, and centering fear that is unfounded, and rooted in racism and anti-Blackness. So I’m not putting that on my kids. And having the talk is to now have really brutally honest conversations, you know, about what it is. And also to be really clear about [the fact that] real friends don’t need you to prove your goodness by sameness.”
Union revealed her parents’ view was that “if you subscribe to respectability politics, that is your pathway to success and safety,” but she no longer agrees with that.
She said: “You cannot price your way out of, educate your way out of, move yourself away from racism, anti-Blackness, discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia…All of those things exist no matter how successful you are. No matter how you speak. They exist. So this idea of teaching our children to constantly be shape-shifting to make themselves more palatable or less scary for people who are committed to oppressing you anyway, no matter what you do, I rejected it. I started to reject that.
“You are worthy and deserving and validated by birth, by the fact that you exist. And that is absolutely enough, and if it’s not enough for someone, that’s not someone that you need to be worried about. Because […] you can do all of these things and constantly be monitoring yourself and worrying about what you’re saying or doing, and the reality is that if someone has racist or bigoted or anti-Black sentiments, it’s actually not going to change if you have a three-piece suit on, or you have a Harvard sweatshirt on, or if you’re driving a nice car, or if you speak the Queen’s English. It’s not our job to be educating people who could easily google, because they are committed to being willfully ignorant. I free you of that.”