Shay Mitchell Is 'Learning' How To Talk To Her 1-Year-Old About Racism

by Erica Gerald Mason
Shay Mitchell/Instagram

In a recent interview, Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell admitted she’s learning how to have conversations about race with her toddler

Parenting – the hardest job you’ll never be 100 percent prepared to do on day one. As parents, we can read books, watch films, ask doctors, commiserate with friends, but ultimately, it’s up to us to know our own kiddo, show up, and be committed to acting in their best interest. Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell is sharing her motherhood journey as she parents her daughter Atlas, 1 — and that includes having conversations about racism.

In an interview with Women’s Health, Mitchell talked to the media outlet about how she hopes to educate her daughter about racism amid the increase in anti-Asian abuse that’s taken place since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“[Racism is] something my mom has dealt with her whole life,” admitted Mitchell, whose mom is Filipino. “When she and my dad were dating in the 1980s in Toronto, their relationship was looked down upon.”

“On the bus with my dad, she would get the worst looks. They would tell me about going into a restaurant and people not serving them. I also saw it in real life,” the Pretty Little Liars star continued. “My mom would get derogatory remarks like, ‘Are you the cleaning lady? Are you the nanny?’ And she was like, ‘No, but what is your issue if I was?'”

Mitchell also stated she encountered racial harassment at school, where other children would ask her if she was “going to go clean the bathrooms.”

Shay explained it’s something she and her partner, Matte Babel, are mindful about when it comes to raising Atlas.

“Matte is half white — his dad is from Trinidad,” Mitchell explained. “And Atlas is a mix of all of us. But she’s very fair-skinned and has light eyes and hair, so she doesn’t look like either of us.”

The actor added, “We’re learning how to have those appropriate conversations. It starts with her dolls, with the toys she plays with, and the books we read to her, that have all different colors and ethnicities.”

To celebrate the toddler’s birthday last October, Mitchell uploaded a video to her Instagram page chronicling the ups and downs of her first year as a mom.

“In the blink of an eye I have a one (plus a month) year old,” Mitchell captioned the adorable video. And while you cannot fit 525,600 minutes into 9 minutes, our highlights come pretty dang close.”