Angelina Jolie's Advice on Teaching Kids About Racism: 'Listen to Those Who Are Being Oppressed'
"A system that protects me but might not protect my daughter – or any other man, woman or child in our country based on skin colour – is intolerable," Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie is calling on children to keep listening and learning in order to educate themselves about human rights and equality.
Although the activist and actress, 45, has been advocating for change around the world for years, in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK she said that “this pandemic and this moment in America has made me rethink the needs and suffering within my own country.”
“A system that protects me but might not protect my daughter – or any other man, woman or child in our country based on skin colour – is intolerable,” the mother of six continued. “We need to progress beyond sympathy and good intentions to laws and policies that actually address structural racism and impunity. Ending abuses in policing is just the start. It goes far beyond that, to all aspects of society, from our education system to our politics.”
When it comes to education about racism, Jolie encourages children to “listen to those who are being oppressed and never assume to know.”
“The reason rights do not reach a child in a country or home is that adults are blocking them. So in many cases, the child cannot depend on the adults,” Jolie, who is collaborating with Amnesty International on a children’s book, added later in the interview. “We want to help kids, who are so engaged now, to use their knowledge and fight for their rights and claim now.”
Jolie is also dedicating the majority of her free time to learning and listening.
“I am in listening mode most hours of the day,” she said, noting that she follows several Black Lives Matter activists. “Most recently, I’ve watched the documentary I Am Not Your Negro about James Baldwin and the civil-rights movement in America. Before bed, I’ve been reading Unreasonable Behaviour by Don McCullin and reflecting on how journalism has changed in the last half a century.”
Despite all that has happened in America and around the world in recent months, Jolie said that “the way people are rising” gives her hope.
“It feels like the world is waking up, and people are forcing a deeper reckoning within their societies. It is time to make changes in our laws and our institutions – listening to those who have been most affected and whose voices have been excluded,” she said, noting that while “some countries have more extreme circumstance” people all around the world are fighting for the same rights.
“The reality is that the struggle to live in safety and independence and to be able to work and provide for your family with dignity is the same fight everything, and it is getting harder for a lot of the most vulnerable people,” Jolie continued. “Whether that is a refugee family or a family struggling with hunger and poverty in our own countries.”
Ahead of her birthday earlier this month, the Oscar winner donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“Rights don’t belong to any one group to give to another. Discrimination and impunity cannot be tolerated, explained away or justified. I hope we can come together as Americans to address the deep structural wrongs in our society," Jolie said in a statement. "I stand with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in their fight for racial equality, social justice, and their call for urgent legislative reform."
Since the killing of George Floyd, which spurred worldwide protests against police brutality against people of color, Jolie and her children — Maddox, 18, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne — have been having difficult and necessary conversations about race while isolating together in Los Angeles.
The actress and director, who has been advocating for refugees around the world for years as a special envoy to the UNHCR, has also been active throughout the coronavirus pandemic, donating to a number of different organizations, including No Kid Hungry, which is working to feed kids across the country during the health crisis.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.