Jessica Alba on 'Devastating' Racism and Talking to Her Kids About It: 'You Can Start Early'
L.A.'s Finest star Jessica Alba opens up to PEOPLE about raising strong children in today's racially charged climate
"From day one, I wanted to prove that in Hollywood you can be a Mexican girl and you can be the girl next door," the actress and business mogul, 39, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I always fought against stigmas and stereotypes."
When she co-founded The Honest Company, which sells eco-friendly products, "It drove me even more to show that you can wear different hats and that women can be bosses and leaders," she adds. "They can create businesses that are good for people, good for the planet and can do good. And make money!"
Now raising her three kids — daughters Haven Garner, 8½, and Honor Marie, 12 on Sunday, plus son Hayes Alba, 2, with her husband of 12 years, producer Cash Warren — Alba is also open and honest with them when it comes to discrimination and the current crisis that exploded over the killing of George Floyd.
"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."
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Alba believes her children's generation will create change but adds, "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."
Acknowledging her own privilege and "the bubble" her family lives in ("which we talk to the kids about, as well"), the actress is also acutely aware of gender discrimination in the business world.
"Corporate America is set up to oppress women," Alba tells PEOPLE. "You're not being paid as much or given the same opportunities. Boardrooms aren't 50-50 and women aren't getting as much funding for companies."
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Talking to her daughters — and her son in a few years — about those issues has become a mandate in their house.
"You have to have these conversations that feel difficult when it comes to equality and social justice," she says. "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."
For more from Jessica Alba, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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.