Sandra Bullock Admitted She's Still Learning About Racism as She Raises Her Two Black Children
After three years off, Sandra Bullock is back with a new movie — though it's not the type of rom-com that fans are used to seeing her in. Instead, her role in Netflix's The Unforgivable portrays her in a totally different light as a woman who has recently been released from prison and is looking for her long-lost sister. She joined the Red Table Talk crew, including Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and Willow Smith to discuss her life as a mom.
During the talk, Bullock, who has 8-year-old Laila and 11-year-old Louis, shared her experience with the foster care system and how she approaches questions about being a white woman raising two Black kids, especially with the racial issues that are currently making headlines.
"I had an extraordinary experience through the foster care system. It was incredibly hard, but you know, I have the most glorious child to show for what exists within that system. So, it's sort of my love letter to her," Bullock said of her choice to adopt, which went against most people's expectations.
"You have two beautiful children," Pinkett Smith began. "You adopted Louis and you fostered Laila and adopted her."
"She was in three different systems before I found her and she was only 2-and-a-half," Bullock added.
"So, just tell me when was the moment though, Sandra, that you were just like, 'I'm ready to have a family and I'm going to take this route. I'm going to take the route of adoption," Pinkett Smith asked.
"I don't know why that was the only route, but I'm so glad the universe had me wait," Bullock explained. "Had me wait even though I was anxious and I was eager. And it went nope, we're not going to do it the way you think you're going to do it. The sweetest part of it was that I found out about both babies when I was in the same place, I was in the place where my mother was buried, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It makes me really emotional, but I feel beyond a shadow of a doubt that my mother brought me these children."
"You have to prove that you're a capable parent," Bullock said of the adoption process. "You're in the judgment cage. I got halfway through it and I said, 'I can't do this.' It was an out-of-body experience. They literally sit you down and ask you, 'What do you think is the worst kind of abuse? What is the worst kind of drug? Alcohol?' I thought, 'If I don't answer this right, I'm not fit.'"
Speaking on the issues of race, Bullock said that she is aware of the judgment she faces and the inequity that will inevitably challenge her children as they grow up. She also noted that she's not afraid to expose them to the news and current events. She's not trying to shelter them, she's just making sure that they are aware of what's happening so that they can all process it together as a family.
"As a white parent who loves her children more than life itself, I know I'm laying existential anxiety on them, I have to think about what they're going to experience leaving the home. They're going to have my fear, but how can I make sure that my anxiety is accurate, protective," Bullock said. "With Lou, being a young Black man, at one point, sweet funny Lou is going to be a young man and the minute he leaves my home I can't follow him everywhere. I will try. I'm joking, but I'm not."
"I let him see everything. I let him process it. He knows how the world works. He knows how cruel it is, he knows how unfair it is, and Laila knows," she continued. "I let them teach me and tell me what they need to know. I thought I was educated and woke, I thought I had it all. I wasn't."
"Have people ever been like, Sandy, why would you ever adopt two Black children?" Pinkett Smith asked.
"Guess what, you get the racism. Sure. A lot of it," she responded. "Guess what? Your sickness is not my problem."
Banfield-Norris added that she's still learning, too, and moving away from the idea that families have to be a certain way and "feeling like it is better for a Black child to be raised in a Black home." She went on, saying, "It's not a racist attitude it's just a protection for that child. At the end of the day, it's an old and tired attitude."
"My ideas around love and family have expanded," Pinkett-Smith said. "I have come to the conclusion that love is love."
Bullock laid it out, telling would-be naysayers that she wants them to see that parents deal with the same things, whether they're white or Black.
"Come into our home," she said. "Discover the every-parent problem. Do I wish that our skins matched? Sometimes I do. It would be easier on how people approach us. It's our anxiety, it's our fear, it's our cross to bear the minute you become a mom, and I have the same feelings as a woman with brown skin and her babies or a white woman with her babies."