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Kristin Davis is opening up about the struggles she has faced being a mom to two black children.
The Sex and the City star joined Jada Pinkett Smith and her mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, on Monday's episode of Red Table Talkfor an emotional discussion about interracial adoption.
Davis -- who adopted daughter Gemma in 2011, as well as a baby boy in 2018 -- told Pinkett Smith and Norris that she's tried to make sure her children "have access to the black community."
"Because my children are African American, I feel like it is my duty and my job to do as much research, as much work, build as many bridges as possible, because you are their community, and that is key, and that is so important," she said.
The actress, 54, said she had always thought about adopting, but didn't really lean into her "deep" need to be a mother until she was 38. Then, she started the adoption process. "It seemed racist to be saying, 'No, no, no, no, no,'" she explained of checking off a questionnaire, which asks prospective parents to check boxes of the race of child they'd like to adopt. A social worker then came to her house for an interview process that lasted days, asking her about how she'd raise a child with a different race than her own. After that, Davis took online courses to prepare her to adopt Gemma, who is black.
"There were a lot of courses. One was just about hair," she told a visibly shocked Pinkett Smith. "People panic!"
"I know it's a big thing, and I'm still learning," Davis continued. "You can't just send her off somewhere, or him off, to have his hair twisted or braided or whatever. You need to, just like you would your own child you gave birth to, learn what is best for their skin and their hair. And if you don't, you will be judged harshly."
Davis, who said she was chosen by Gemma's birth mother, said becoming a mom to a black baby shifted her ideas about race.
"You absolutely do not fully understand [white privilege beforehand]. There's no doubt. There's no way you could. Because you can understand that you live in white privilege, and that's a theory, and you can see things. But it's one thing to be watching it happening to other people, and it's another thing when it's your child. And you haven't personally been through it. It's a big issue, and it's something that I think about every day and every night," she shared.
"Now you have to confront prejudices, biases, racism in a whole different way," Pinkett Smith noted.
"It's hard to put into words, really. I mean, there's been so many things over the years. Gemma is seven now, but the first couple things happened when she was a baby and I'd be holding her in my arms, people would say to me, 'Won't she be a great basketball player?' I just had to be like... This is a baby. How could you say that, without being just mortified? That's when it began," Davis explained with tears in her eyes.
The actress soon after felt the effects of institutionalized racism. She described how she hit a turning point when she noticed her daughter wasn't being treated fairly on the playground of her mostly white school, and that she was told the school didn't "see color."
"It was a very harsh moment of deep understanding," Davis recalled. "I don't know how every person of color has gotten through this... I don't understand how you could take this every day."
"I will never be black... and therefore I will never be able to say to Gemma, 'I understand how you feel because this happened to me.' That's what's painful and hard," she added.
Davis -- who said she's surrounded herself with black moms whom she leans on for advice about raising black children -- found a new, "inclusive" school for her daughter, and later decided to adopt a black baby boy when Gemma asked for a little brother.
"I worry for you raising a black baby boy in America," Banfield Norris candidly said.
"I worry too. Every day something happens, and I think about it.... every night I worry," Davis confessed, before asking Pinkett Smith how she's approached raising her own son, Jaden Smith.
"I was telling Jaden when he was four, five, six years old, 'No red, no blue. You gotta know right now, you live in L.A. No red, no blue.' I've had too many incidents being in certain places with friends of mine who had on the wrong color. And we had to teach him early how to deal with being pulled over by the police -- he and Willow both," Pinkett Smith explained. "We started talking to our boys, that young, six -- even just being aware of your surroundings.... as they've gotten older, they've come across real-world situations."
"Willow has talked about being stopped by the police and being terrified," Banfield Norris chimed in.
"It ain't easy," Pinkett Smith noted, wrapping up the conversation by thanking Davis for her openness and admitting to having preconceived notions about white parents adopting black children.
"I, at one point, had a very difficult time thinking of white families adopting black children, and I've gotten an education over the years from people that I know who have done it... there's so much that we didn't understand," she said, revealing that she had to fight against the idea that "black children only deserve black love." "I had to open my mind and understand love is love."
"We'll be part of your village, one of your lifelines," Pinkett Smith offered.