Harris Faulkner talks to PEOPLE about talking to her daughters amid a heightened time of racial turmoil in America, following the killing of George Floyd

By Morgan M. Evans
June 04, 2020 01:12 PM
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Harris Faulkner
FOX NEWS

Harris Faulkner loves that her family represents change.

The Fox News anchor, who is a co-host on Outnumbered and also runs her own news show, Outnumbered Overtime currently ranked No. 1 in cable — says conversations about race in her family are nothing new.

But amid the social unrest in the country following the killing of George Floyd, Faulkner explains that why parents are now "forced" to have tough conversations with their kids today is a much different story.

"My family is ecumenical and it's biracial so the fact that we're having [race conversations] is not a shock," the TV host, 54, tells PEOPLE. "It's just the way that we're forced into acknowledging some things right now that I thought the nation was growing and progressing past ... and we are still mired in our inability in those times of crisis not to separate out into our own corners."

"I'm teaching my girls that you've got to come into the center of the room if you want to find peace," she adds.

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Faulkner with daughters Danica and Bella and husband Tony Berlin
Tatiana Kiseleva

Faulkner, who loves that her family resembles a "colorful Benetton ad from the 1990s," is mother to her biracial daughters Danika, 10, and Bella, 13, whom she shares with her husband, Tony Berlin.

Noting her husband's Jewish heritage, the Fox News personality says that during these trying times, she makes her daughters aware of their diverse upbringing, telling them that they are a symbol of unification and change.

"We're raising our girls predominantly Christian but they're exposed to everything ... we do Passover and the reading of the Haggadah ... with biracial children, they, to me, are the epitome of where our attitude should be," she says. "That's what I teach my girls. I say, 'You are the example of what society can do together if we all pulled together in a unified way.' "

And despite their young ages, Faulkner, working in the news, keeps her girls informed, educating them about current events in the country.

"They're aware that there are problems. My 13-year-old will say, 'When is this going to end?' And I'll say, 'It will end when people decide that resilience and surviving this is more important than being right,' " the mom of two explains, adding that she tells her daughters to leverage their "gifts" — i.e., tapping into what makes them special — to help make a difference.

RELATED VIDEO: "One-in-a-Million" Biracial Twin Girls Are Mistaken for Best Friends Instead of Sisters

"I told her that recently and she said, 'What gifts do I have?' And I said, 'You know what? You have many and I think it's a good time to figure out which one you think would help,' " Faulkner explains before sharing that she is currently working with her daughters on different exercises to help them have future conversations with others who may disagree with their beliefs.

"For example, if you were in a room full of people and they felt this way and they didn't agree with you, what gift do you think you'd come through with?  And invariably, [Bella] said, 'I have the ability to make people laugh,' " she continues.

"That girl is funny — like, stand-up funny, " Faulkner says of her older child. "And I said, 'Do you think it's always appropriate to tell a joke?' And she said, 'No but it's always appropriate to see if you can spread your smile.' "

Faulkner, who has been working from her New Jersey home amid the coronavirus pandemic, also reflects on what it means to be a black woman during a time in the U.S. where fears of police brutality and racism weigh heavily on people of her race.

"For those people who are legitimately hurting — I live in this skin so I know how it feels. I've been pulled over while driving. I know how that feels … I had that moment of brain freeze and 'What do I do? I don't want to make a mistake,' " the Emmy-winning journalist reveals, going on to share her sentiments about Floyd's death and the nationwide protests.

Harris Faulkner working at her in-home studio
Harris Faulkner

"It hurts us in just a deep, deep way ... for all Americans. I think that we are hyperventilating and missing an opportunity for unity because we can agree on that videotape," continues Faulkner, who began her career working as a local news anchor for KSTP-TV (ABC 5) in Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed after having his neck pinned under the knee of a white police officer. "I haven't met anybody who doesn't see that that was killing on-camera."

And in addition to protests, the country is also in the middle of a pandemic, which has taken the lives of more than 100,000 Americans — a fear for people of all races.

"I also think we hyperventilate out of panic because we know that people are in the streets, shoulder-to-shoulder, some of them yelling and coughing and sneezing from chemicals thrown in the air as the rioters don't disperse," she continues. "Then you have 40 million people out of work and they hyperventilate because they're losing their homes ... so when you look at that, you think we need to collectively take a moment and breathe easy, but there's no time."

And though the country is currently experiencing rough times, Faulkner — who is celebrating 15 years at Fox News — says she is fortunate to play an essential part in informing the country during a historic time.

"Knowing that I have a journalism essential role and then I can play that role, do that job, if you will, from my home, is such a blessing," she says, adding that it has also been great for her girls to see her in action while isolating at home: "It keeps them focused on the very thing I've tried to teach them and that is, let your gifts make room for you. Be the best you can be at something such that when times get hard, people look to you for that one thing."

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.

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