Tia Mowry-Hardrict Says It's Parents' 'Responsibility' to Talk to Kids About Being 'Anti-Racist'
Tia Mowry-Hardrict encourages fellow parents to embrace "teaching your child about different cultures" from home, "at a young age"
On Tuesday's premiere episode of the Dear Media podcast Being Bümo, the actress and mother of two opens up to host Chriselle Lim about discrimination her family faced while she was growing up (including her mother being questioned about her first-class seat on a plane) and how she believes parents can facilitate necessary discussions.
"It starts at home," says Mowry-Hardrict, 42. "What people have to understand is this behavior is learned, so it's about communication. It's about bringing awareness. It's about sharing stories. It's about teaching your child about different cultures, at home, at a young age."
"I think what's important, and how you can be anti-racist, is not running away from the problem and saying, 'Oh, gosh, you know what? This is a little much. I'm not even gonna talk to my child about this.' No, I think we all should have this conversation," she adds.
The Sister, Sister alum encourages parents to embrace "communicating and talking to your child and knowing that you have that responsibility — it's your responsibility — instead of putting that responsibility on other people. So not waiting for someone else to have that conversation with your child."
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"What I've done with my children is [reading] books," she says. "You can read incredible books to your children about Rosa Parks, about Martin Luther King Jr. — pivotal people that had a huge impact within the movement."
"You can even do it through clothes — expressing yourself through fashion," Mowry-Hardrict shares. "Getting them dressed, you're having a conversation about it."
"The other thing is through television, especially during this time," she continues. "I was just having my children watch a whole bunch of [things] that starred a lot of African American actors, and one of them is [The] Wiz. You had Michael Jackson, Diana Ross. It was just such a great story. And my son ... he loved it, [and] it's important."
Aside from having conversations about current social issues at home, the Hardrict family is currently working on potty training Cairo, as well as helping her transition "into a real bed," according to the Tia Mowry's Quick Fix host (the latter project is "not going well, let's just say that," she quips).
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After almost a decade of parenting, though, Mowry-Hardrict has learned to manage mom "guilt" — even if it "never goes away" fully, she tells Lim, recalling the feeling of "a dagger in [her] heart" when Cree, as a baby, would be asleep by the time she got home from work.
"What has helped me ... is changing my perspective," she says of feeling guilt over leaving her kids' sides for her career-related duties. "What helped me was I said, 'There are millions of moms who are doing the same thing.' And they are getting through and they're getting by,' and this is why I think that community is so important, especially when it comes to motherhood."
"I never really understood the power of a community until I became a mother," Mowry-Hardrict explains. "So when I saw that there were other women doing the same thing, I was like, 'All right, Tia, you need to straighten up and fly right. There are women out there that are doing the thing.' "
"And then the other thing was perspective on [how] I want my children to see that Mommy works hard for what she has," she notes. "Mommy has to go out and fetch and get, and children learn the best through observation, not just through telling."
"Once they get older, when my children see that Mommy has to work really, really hard to make a living, then that is setting an example for your child," Mowry-Hardrict says. "That is what stuck with me, and that's why I feel better. It's not completely gone, the guilt, but I feel better."
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.