Sandra Bullock Opens Up About Being A White Woman Raising Black Kids
The actress and producer spoke honestly and bluntly about the challenges she and her kids face in a racist world
Sandra Bullock has a lot on her plate as an A-list actress and producer. But this week she’s revealed that her top priority is her two kids, Louis, 11, and Laila, 9. Since their respective adoptions in 2010 and 2015, Bullock has been educating herself on issues of race, learning how to parent, and slowing starting to understand the far-from-perfect world that greets her and her children.
This week on Red Table Talk — with hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, daughter Willow Smith, and mom Adrienne Banfield-Norris — Bullock opened up about how she wishes that her skin “matched” her kids’ skin.
“To say that I wished our skins matched — sometimes I do,” she confesses. “Because then it would be easier on how people approached us. I have the same feelings as a woman with brown skin, and it being her babies. Or a white woman with white babies.”
She then spoke about the fear and anxiety she grapples with regularly, knowing that she’s raising Black kids in a biased world that not only treats people with brown skin unfairly, but also treats them with violence.
“As a white parent who loves her children more than life itself, I’m scared of everything,” she says. “I know I’m laying all kinds of existential anxiety on them. I have to think about what they’re going to experience leaving the home. They’re gonna have my fear but how can I make sure that my anxiety is accurate, protective?”
She recounted the first time her son put on a hoodie and having to instill in both her kids a working knowledge of the world and its dangers to Black men and women.
“With Lou being a young Black man, at some point, sweet, funny Lou, is going to be a young man, and the minute he leaves my home, I can’t follow him everywhere,” she says. “I will try. I’m joking, but I’m not. I don’t know what I will do but I pray and I pray and I pray that I’ve done a good enough job, scared them sufficiently. I’ve been schooling Lou since he was six years old. He popped that hoodie on his head and I went, ‘Ahhh.’ I said, let me just explain. And I let him see everything. I let him process it. He knows how the world works. He knows how cruel it is, he knows how unfair it is, and now Laila’s knowing it.”
On Today, she spoke more about her experience as an adoptive mom of two Black children — and her worries about how they see her.
“That was on my mind when they were very, very, very young,” she tells interviewer Hoda Kotb. “Will they love me less because I don’t represent their culture?”
She also acknowledged that she was still learning, both from others and from her kids — and that learning about race is an ongoing process.
“I let them teach me and tell me what they need to know. I thought I was educated and woke, I thought I had it all, and guess what? I wasn’t.”
On Today, she expands on the same idea: “As a parent of a Black child you have to — as a white woman, I didn’t have to think about [race and racism] until the day I fell in love like I did. You realize that there is a whole universe that you have to educate yourself to. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it.”
She had very few words for people who made racist comments about her family and her kids.
“Your sickness is not my problem,” she says bluntly.
Despite her logical approach to the reality of racism in the world today, Bullock remains hopeful for the future.
“Maybe one day that will go away,” she said, speaking about all of the challenges her children face. “Maybe one day we will be able to see with different eyes.”