Gabrielle Union Shares How She Talks to Her Kids About Racism: 'The Proof Is Always in the Pudding'
By Mekishana Pierre
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Gabrielle Union is opening up about her most vulnerable moments. The actress landed the cover of Health's October issue, where she got candid about her 30-year relationship with therapy and how she stays transparent about racism with her children.
Union is well-known for being unreservedly honest about her hardships and tribulations, and she contributes her ability to be sincere to the many years of mental health care. She revealed that she first sought out professional help in 1992, mere days after being raped at 19 years old.
"I think for everyone, it was about wanting me to be OK as fast as possible. Then, when I went to UCLA, I sought the help of the UCLA Rape Crisis Center," she explained. "That was my lifeline—you’re with people who can relate to everything you're talking about."
The actress, who delves into the assault in her 2017 book of personal essays, We’re Going to Need More Wine, shared that her therapist at home was the one to encourage her to seek out resources at college. "[On the large UCLA campus], there are tens of thousands of people—it’s just full of triggers," she noted. "So her even telling me how to map out the route that I would walk was helpful."
But dealing with her past trauma isn't the only difficult conversation she's opening up about. Union and her husband, Dwyane Wade, have been two of the many Black celebrities at the forefront of demanding change in Hollywood and society. They've used the tense political climate to talk with their kids about the harsh realities of racism and prejudice. The couple has five children they raise together: Kaavia, 2; Zaire, 19; Zaya, 13; Xavier, 7 and Dahveon, 19, Wade's nephew. Zaire and Zaya are Wade's children from a previous marriage, and Xavier is the ball player's son with an ex. The two welcomed their youngest via a surrogate in 2018.
"With the older kids, we talk about how the world is -- I'm not going to say changing, but at least acknowledging certain truths that we’ve known for the last 400 years," she told Health. "People might say different things, but the proof is always in the pudding. You have to watch their actions. If someone says, 'We value diversity,' go to their homepage and click on the picture of their board. That will tell you about their commitment to diversity."
Union said that speaking with their eldest daughter, Zaya, is more complicated because "there's so many roadblocks for her and her life," but the couple ensures that the budding activist knows they have her back.
She added, "All we can say is, 'We're not going to leave you on the road by yourself. We'll be here. But this is what it is. And it's OK to still be shocked and hurt and surprised when people that you thought you could count on to be better aren't—whether that's teachers, administrators, friends, parents, family members, strangers on the street.'"