There's been a trend of white actresses adopting Black babies for well over a decade now. From Angelina Jolie to Michelle Pfeiffer—the Hollywood elite are taking on the responsibilities of adopting and raising Black children. Whether the children are from African countries or American, to many spectators, Black babies seem to be the ultimate accessory for the Hollywood elite.
Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron, two of the most prominent actresses in Hollywood are raising Black sons in an era where young Black men are the primary target for police and anti-Black aggression. Why, then, does it seem as if these actresses are silent on issues of race that will surely affect their children? Shouldn't they speak up?
Of course these actresses should speak up. And they have. Sort of. In an interview with Glamour, Sandra Bullock told her "Our Brand is Crisis" co-star, Zoe Kazan that she feared for her son.
"I want my son to be safe. I want my son to be judged for the man he is. We are at a point now where if we don't do something, we will have destroyed what so many amazing people have done." Of course, she didn't offer anything new or profound on the racial climate in the U.S. She only expressed how most mothers, in particular, Black mothers, feel.
But Bullock comes from a place of privilege and doesn't have the life experiences of someone who grew up Black. In all honesty, there isn't much she can say. But that doesn't mean she should say or do nothing! What she can do is recognize that she does come from a place of privilege. She can bring attention to the fact that Black children are adopted less often than children of other races. She can use her platform to fight racism for her children and, by extension all Black children.
Charlize Theron hasn't been silent. Theron was born in apartheid-era South Africa, which is where she adopted her son and daughter. Theron, as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, has been fighting against the continued spread of HIV through homophobia, sexism and racism in South Africa through the U.N. and her organization The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP).
But because she comes from a place of privilege as a white South African, her ability to comment on American racism just isn't there. Like Sandra Bullock, when talking about racism in the U.S. Theron told CNN, "I see racism alive and well and that scares me, and saddens me.” Then she went on to talk about the global fight for an HIV-free generation.
People want to know what Theron can do to improve race relations in the U.S. She's doing it--by raising her children in love and fighting on a global scale against the spread of HIV. We can't ask her to speak on issues she doesn't know. But Black folk can be incredibly judgmental when it comes to White people raising Black children.
For example, Theron's son picked out an Elsa dress (from the Frozen film) and a blonde wig to wear and she allowed it. To some childcare providers, she's fostering a healthy child who is allowed to play pretend and dress up as kids like to do, especially having a mom they believe "plays Halloween" as her job, as she told Jimmy Kimmel. But the Black community lambasted her and accused her of child abuse and assumed she was forcing her son to be transgendered.
Theron and Bullock aren't the only white celebrities raising or preparing to raise Black children to speak out. Cleveland Browns tight end, Seth DeValve knelt during the National Anthem to protest the alt-
white right extremist terrorist rally in Charlottesville, VA. DeValve, whose wife is Black told ESPN.com, "I myself will be raising children that don't look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now."
But here's the problem. Not enough white celebrities who are raising Black children are speaking out against racism. We need more than just a handful. It's possible that celebs raising Black children are trying to shield their children from racial issues and trying to raise them to be "colorblind". That's only going to negatively impact their identity and self-love in the long run.
Case in point: The Root talked to three transracial adoptees about their experiences being raised by white parents who wanted them to be colorblind. Chad Goller-Sojourner admitted to being afraid of Black people even though he, himself was Black.
His parents had raised him to be colorblind while living in an all-white community and interacting with only white people. LisaMarie Rollins had a difficult time 'navigating her identity on her own as a black girl with white parents' as her parents raised her to be colorblind as well. And Rachel Noerdlinger "moved to Gambia, West Africa...in search of ethnicity, but Africans have all different kinds of ethnicities" and didn't find what she was looking for.
People are already skeptical of white celebrities raising Black children. So what could they possibly have to say or do to help improve race relations in the U.S.? Perhaps they could start the conversation by letting the world know that, according to Huffington Post, Black children are still disproportionately in foster care and are less likely to be adopted. Only "14 percent of child-seekers are willing to adopt a Black child."
They can start by acknowledging their children's Blackness. In Huffington Post, La Sha gives very good advice to white parents of Black children, warning them to not make the fact that their child is Black the "elephant in the room." And also to acknowledge that "there is no manual for raising Black children."
Raising children obviously takes more than just love. Raising Black children in an era of white supremacy's last stand can prove scary. And Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron are right to be scared. But white celebrities raising Black children can engage in those difficult-to-have conversations. They can act and use their platform to fight racism and intolerance. But most important of all, they can raise their Black children to be confident in themselves and proud of their Blackness. That's the surest way to let the world know, if they didn't already, that Black Lives Matter✊🏾.