Sandra Bullock opens up about fears of raising Black son
EXCLUSIVE: "It's a scary thing to think that when your beautiful son grows up and becomes a man, someone's not going to treat him the way that you treat him simply because of the color of his skin," Bullock told theGrio
Sandra Bullock has a lot to say about the lessons offered by her new film The Unforgivable, but she also has unique insight into what it’s like being a famous white woman raising Black children in a world conditioned to see them as threats.
It’s been six years since the two-time Oscar winner appeared on the cover of PEOPLE Magazine with her adopted Black children, daughter Laila, now 8, and 11-year-old Louis, who was just a baby when Bullock began raising him in 2010.
Since then, the names of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and many other Black boys, girls, men, and women have made headlines around the globe after their lives were tragically cut short due to what many Americans see as the nation’s ongoing struggle to address issues of race.
That reality has clearly left an impression on Bullock, who recently told theGrio in an exclusive interview, about her own personal struggles raising a Black son.
“At the age of six, he popped on a hoodie and I was like, ‘We’re going to have a conversation,'” Bullock told theGrio correspondent Touré.
“I said, ‘What does it look like you’re doing with the hoodie?'” she continued. “And he says, ‘Well, I look like I’m hiding.’ ‘Do you have anything to hide?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Then you don’t need to wear it like that outside.’ I said, ‘People are scared and will react to you differently than if you were a white boy.’ And he knows it. I let them see everything. I let them hear and know everything, see it all. I don’t care if it scares them because it’s my job to let them know that outside of these safe walls, that things are different.”
In her latest film, which hit theaters on Nov. 24 and will begin streaming on Netflix on Dec. 10, Bullock plays a woman named Ruth Slater who is struggling to rebuild her life after serving two decades in prison for a violent crime. During the film’s trailer, Ruth hasn’t even made it out of prison yet when she receives a threatening call from one of many outside agitators who won’t let her move on from her past after paying her debt to society.
It’s a set of circumstances Bullock and her fellow filmmakers know disproportionately affects Black people in America.
“This whole film is about a system of unfairness,” Bullock told theGrio. “It’s a scary thing to think that when your beautiful son grows up and becomes a man, someone’s not going to treat him the way that you treat him simply because of the color of his skin. It breaks my heart. It makes me full of rage. It makes me afraid. But all I can do is my job. Protect them. Enlighten them. Show them their power. Show them how to be safe. But the system is not fair.”
Activist Tamika Mallory praised Bullock after seeing her interview with theGrio, which had been reposted on Viola Davis‘s Instagram’s page, but also offered a word of caution about her remarks.
“I truly appreciate what Sandra Bullock is saying here and I admire her love for her son,” Mallory wrote on IG. “However, I need my celeb friends who know sis to let her know that the ‘people are scared’ narrative ‘can be’ extremely dangerous to young Black men.”
Red Table Talk host Jada Pinkett Smith recently asked Bullock what she says when people ask her why she chose to adopt Black children instead of white ones.
“No one would say that to my face,” Bullock replied during the Facebook Watch show’s latest episode. “But guess what? You get the racism. There’s been…sure, a lot of it. Guess what? Not my problem. Your sickness is not my problem.”
Pinkett Smith suggested to Bullock that despite understanding racism, she herself has learned to recognize “love is love” over the years. Bullock said she wishes those who question whether a white woman like her can properly raise Black children could come into her family’s home.
“Let our human love be the evidence,” she said. “And to say that, I wish our skins matched? Sometimes I do. Because then it would be easier on how people approach us.”
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