Actress Garcelle Beauvais Celebrates Mixed-Race Children In New Book
Celebrity Mom Q&A: Actress Garcelle Beauvais opens up about what inspired her to write a new picture book about mixed-race children.
She stars as the First Lady of the United States in the summer blockbuster White House Down, but actress Garcelle Beauvais is already busy with a new leading role…children’s author! The celebrity mom-of-three wrote the recently published picture book, I Am Mixed, a poetic and perfect-for-bedtime story that celebrates mixed-race children.
What inspired her to go from the screen to the page? And what tips does Beauvais, herself a mom of mixed twins, Jax and Jaid, have for other new and expectant moms welcoming mixed-race children? Here’s a look.
Why did you write I Am Mixed?
My inspiration came from my twin boys. Jax and Jaid who are 5 1/2 — they’re mixed. I am Haitian and their dad is Irish. We love going to the bookstore and we’re always reading lots of books, but there came a point when I realized that I just wasn’t finding many books celebrating children with mixed heritage or showing kids how to love their different backgrounds. I also wanted my boys to see characters in a picture book that share a resemblance to them! When we’re at the playground, I look around and there are all these children with beautiful mixed faces…I want them to recognize themselves, too. So it really was a case of one thing leading to another. Now here we are!
When you were pregnant, did you think about racial identity and how you would help your twins develop an appreciation for their mixed heritage? How have you put these plans into practice?
You know, the journey to actually having my boys was so long and challenging, including infertility and everything like that, that I just wanted to have a healthy delivery. I didn’t really think about it then! Now that they are growing up, however, I realize that helping Jax and Jaid develop positive feelings about themselves and their heritage is all about self-acceptance. It’s being proud of you are. If anything, that’s what I would like to instill in my boys. If you are confident then people can’t drag you down or bully you. That’s what I want to teach them.
There’s a line in the book where Nia, one of the characters, comments, “When I go to school, I get asked funny things. Like, Your hair is bendy like curly, wurly straws. It is not straight like Sally’s or thick like Lenore’s.” As a parent, how do you help your kids field questions related to race?
We talk about these kinds of things and I am very open with them when they have questions. Knowing that somebody might say to Jax or Jaid, “Your mommy is black and your daddy is white,” or something related, has given me a chance to prepare them for how they should respond in these situations. Making sure they already have the words, and know what to say, is part of making sure they feel confident about who they are.
What tips do you have for moms raising mixed-race children?
I think it’s really about embracing both sides. My kids, because they go back and forth between two homes, get my culture and the way I run my house, and then get the same thing when they are with their dad. It’s really about embracing both heritages, and letting them know a little bit about each other’s families. It’s just like a parent adopting a child from a different country who celebrates that child’s heritage as a way to let the child know where they’re from. As parents of mixed kids, I think we need to have that same spirit of honoring and embracing our different backgrounds. There’s a lot to celebrate!
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