Regina King, Kourtney Kardashian & More Celebrities Share How They're Talking with Their Kids About Race
Amid the ongoing protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, celebrities are opening up about their at-home conversations within their own families regarding racism, bigotry and police brutality
While appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, King told the late night host, "I think in most homes, Black homes, it's not just a conversation. It's an ongoing conversation."
"The anger that they have, it just compounds every time something like this happens," she explained. "It’s another moment that’s telling them that they’re not worthy … their lives are not valuable once they walk outside of the comfort of their homes."
"The conversation shifts every time," she continued, "because you have to find a way to support their feelings and make sure that you're letting them know that you hear them and that you do mirror the same sentiment. But you don't want them to do anything that's going to put themselves in a situation that they may not come back home, they may not talk to you again."
Kardashian, who shares three children with Scott Disick — sons Reign Aston, 5, and Mason Dash, 10, plus daughter Penelope Scotland, 8 next month — shared on her lifestyle website, Poosh, that she has a "responsibility to speak with my kids honestly and often, even when the truth is uncomfortable."
She shared, "I have to make sure they understand what it means to have white privilege and to take the time to learn and discuss Black History, beyond just one short month out of the year."
Kardashian then asked others to join her in having these conversations, going on to "encourage other mothers to join me in using this as a learning lesson for our children, to allow our children to feel comfortable enough to come talk to us about anything. Allow conversation without judgement, and learn from our children too. We don't know it all."
"My children sometimes ask questions that I may not know the answers to, so we explore them together," she said, explaining, "I've felt like I've always been on the right side of this, but I have a lot to learn and want to educate myself even more, so that I can be a better mother, a better auntie to my nieces and nephews, a better friend, and a better person."
The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star continued, "We should all want to do better and be better" — and "the best way to teach respect, love, and kindness is by modeling it. The best way to teach the importance of using your voice and standing up for what is right and what you believe in is by modeling it."
She concluded, "In order for change to be lasting and not just about this moment, we need to continue the conversation beyond today, this week, this month. God help us."
The Masked Singer host, who's dad to 3-year-old son Golden and 9-year-old twins Moroccan Scott and Monroe, old Access in an interview that he is discussing police brutality and the current realities of the world with his young children.
"My children fear police," Cannon said, "I try to teach fearlessness. I try to teach, 'You have a power within you that you need to fear nothing.' But when they see the energy of law enforcement [it's like], 'Uh oh, here comes the police.'"
"So that mindset of, 'Sit up straight and don't talk, keep your hands where they can see them' — these are things that I'm talking to a 3 year old about [and] 9 year olds about; they bring those questions to me," Cannon added.
"It's something that's hurtful to have those conversations with your children, but you want to protect them at the end of the day," the father of three told Access.
Thomas Rhett Akins & Lauren Akins
Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins shared their thoughts about how important it is for their daughter Willa Gray — whom they adopted from Uganda in 2017 — to grow up knowing they are committed to standing up "for every single person who shares her beautiful brown skin."
In a pair of moving posts, the parents of three reflected on racism and fighting racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd's death. They stated plainly that not doing so would be a betrayal of their daughter.
Akins wrote in a poignant Instagram caption, "I want to be her mother who raises her to know what it means to have brown skin and to be proud of it. I want to be her mother who doesn’t listen to the shaming of skin colors but instead listens to the Spirit of God who knitted every skin color together in their mother’s womb for His glory," she continued.
"Because the truth is: I AM HER mother who FIGHTS for her. I am her mother who celebrates not only WHO she and her two sisters are, but WHOSE they are and exactly who God created them to be."
She added, "It’s hard for me to sort out what it is I want to say to her, and what it is I want to say to the rest of the world ... However, I do believe I’m being disobedient to God if I don’t speak up against injustice and fight for change. I believe if I stay silent I am betraying my brothers and sisters. I believe if I stay silent I am betraying my daughter. I believe if I stay silent I am betraying the heart of God. Don’t stay silent. Fight. Use the most powerful weapon of all: love."
The country singer also shared his thoughts on Instagram, writing alongside a bible verse, "I get scared when I think about my daughters and what kind of world they will be growing up in and how my JOB as a father is to show them how to lead with love in the face of hate. To know their worth and value as not only women but human beings."
Concluding, Rhett wrote, “So if there is any question on where I stand let me be clear- I stand with you, I stand with George [Floyd] and his family and all those who have faced racism. I stand with my wife and my daughters. We will be fighting this fight for the rest of our lives. Rest In Peace, George. We are not letting this go.”
Alba shared with PEOPLE, "When I see all of the hateful, racist activity that has been happening, you realize what really matters," she says. "Honor and Haven are online more than ever, so they're exposed to this. And my kids are black and Mexican so there's a connection to what's happening."
Alba told PEOPLE that she believes her children's generation will create change but added, "It's not happening any time soon and it's so devastating. It's a systemic racism that's in the veins of our criminal-justice system. It's just set up to oppress black and brown and 'other' people."
Alba explained, "You have to have these conversations that feel difficult when it comes to equality and social justice. All these conversations can be had and you can start early with them. I did. Because that's how you're going to give them the fire to make sure that that isn't their reality."
The legendary basketball player told Jimmy Kimmel during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that he is having conversations with his sons about what to say and do in a potential interaction with police.
"I have to talk with them all the time," the NBA Hall of Famer said. "I told them, 'First of all, you have to try to diffuse the situation or show respect. If you have to understand that these people are also out here to do all their jobs. So you try to diffuse the situation. If it happens to get rough, don't say anything, don't do anything, just comply.'"
"'And then when all is said and done, you call me, and if stuff gets out of hand, then I will handle it,'" O'Neal continued telling Kimmel. "'I will be the one to come around and act crazy. I don’t want you to act crazy while you’re out there by yourself.' So I just try to tell them, just comply, just listen, but a lot of times that doesn’t work either."
The former Grey's Anatomy actress opened up in a series of Instagram posts about the difficulty of explaining racial injustice to her 7-year-old daughter Adelaide, whom she and husband Josh Kelly adopted in 2012.
"I don't typically use my platform or social media to say much when it comes to the state of our country. I keep most of those thoughts to myself. I act quietly and behind the scenes. I let those with far more experience, education and eloquence be the voices for change. But I can't sleep. And when I do I wake with a single thought in my head," Heigl, 41, wrote. "How will I tell Adalaide?"
"How will I explain the unexplainable? How can I protect her? How can I break a piece of her beautiful divine spirit to do so? I can't sleep. I lay in my bed in the dark and weep for every mother of a beautiful divine black child who has to extinguish a piece of their beloved baby’s spirit to try to keep them alive in a country that has too many sleeping soundly. Eyes squeezed shut. Images and cries and pleas and pain banished from their minds. White bubbles strong and intact," she continued.
Heigl added that she is now wide awake to the injustices that face communities of color, writing, "It has taken me far too long to truly internalize the reality of the abhorrent, evil despicable truth of racism. My whiteness kept it from me. My upbringing of inclusivity, love and compassion seemed normal. I thought the majority felt like I did. I couldn’t imagine a brain that saw the color of someone’s skin as anything but that. Just a color. I was naive. I was childish."
Now, she is seeking action and justice to be served, adding, "There may have been a time when I cared to try to change the mind of a racist. To show them through example and just the right words they are wrong. I don't care anymore. What I want is for them all to be so scared by Officer Chauvin's consequences that they are afraid to breathe in the direction of a black man, woman or child. Let alone try to hurt them. I want them to shake in their beds at night for fear that they too could end up like Chauvin. I want him to be an example of what happens to a racist in this country."
In an Instagram post featuring a sweet photo of the model's 6-week-old child, whom she shares with boyfriend Philip Payne, Lawrence pledged that she will do everything she can to further support her "beautiful innocent black baby."
"As your mother I will protect you in [any way] I can. But I know that will never be enough," she wrote. "Your skin color will impact your life in a way I will never be able to understand. Your father @philipapayne will have to teach you things as a privileged white child I never had to learn. Your friends will need to be allies and speak up for you at times when simply being you could get you hurt or killed."
The Aerie model went on to say that it is now time for "all of us to educate ourselves" and not expect others to do the homework for us.
"Let's have the discussions with our families, campaign to get police reform and continue to learn more so we can combat systemic racism everyday," she wrote. "We must use our white privilege to do better in memory of all those who've had their lives ended, futures taken and have to fight discrimination every single day ... "
Alongside an image that read, "Don't ignore something because it makes you uncomfortable," the Little Fires Everywhere actress shared her experience talking about racism with her youngest son, 7-year-old Tennessee.
She wrote in the caption of the post, "Last night at dinner, my 7-year-old asked why all the grown ups were so upset. We spoke to him about what happened to George Floyd. Being a white mother trying to explain racism and bigotry to her white son, who did not understand why anyone would treat another human being that way, was heartbreaking. But not nearly as heartbreaking as being a victim of one of these senseless, violent, unconscionable crimes. Not nearly as heartbreaking as being one of the families who have experienced loss and harassment and discrimination daily. Not nearly as heartbreaking as being a mother who lives in fear of what will happen to her children in this world."
Witherspoon added that she is also trying to "reconcile the difference between what I was taught in church and what I see in the world." She wrote, "I grew up going to church. We were taught that we were all the same in the eyes of God. We all breathe the same air. We all bleed the same blood. But that is not what I grew up seeing. It was as hard for me to reconcile the difference between what I was taught in church and what I see in the world. I don’t want that for my kids. Or for yours."
She then urged her followers to have conversations with their own children adding, "If you aren’t talking to them, someone else is."
Kristen Bell & Dax Shepard
The Good Place actress and mother of two revealed during an interview with The Morning Beat that she and her husband Dax Shepard are having "honest, hard, uncomfortable" conversations about race with their children, Delta, 5, and Lincoln, 7.
"I showed my daughters some of the images that are happening right now, because I think that they have more durability and more resilience than we give them credit for," Bell explained during the interview.
Bell says that she has been speaking with her children about “the parallel of what was happening in Michigan, where there were white people yelling in the face of cops, holding guns and nothing was happening, versus people that were sitting on the ground protesting peacefully, being tear-gassed. And I said, 'What kind of problems do you see with this picture? Tell me what you're looking at right now.'"
"And we had a very honest, hard, uncomfortable conversation about what was happening right now," she said. "Because I will — you can put it on my gravestone — I will raise anti-racists. I will talk about it with them forever."
January Jones is encouraging her son to get involved.
Xander also held up a sign reading, "I CAN'T BREATHE" — a reference to the repeated cries of both Floyd and Eric Garner, who was killed by a police officer's illegal chokehold in 2014.
Jones wrote, "I promise that I will always continue to talk to my child about inequality," adding, "And I promise to do all I can to learn more."
She revealed that she and her son "have had many more of these necessary hard conversations over the last few days, about why people are so angry and sad."
She continued, "I wanted to give him an opportunity today to do a small neighborhood protest to support his friends and feel like he’s part of the progress that will hopefully happen."