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KARYN PARSONS:IT’S HARD BEING BIRACIAL IN AMERICA/RAISING BIRACIAL KIDS

Karyn Parsons,who played Hillary Banks on syndicated television show the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, says that it is hard being biracial in America. In addition,the actress turned producer/writer says that it is harder raising bi-racial kids. Karyn says that her daughter Lana,4, came out looking like the ”whitest white child with blonde hair and blue eyes” and her son Nico,11 months, came out looking “browner than [she is]“. Read Karyn’s interview with Essence.com below:

Essence.com: Your mother is Black and your father White. What’s been your biggest challenge being biracial in America?

K.P.: Well, it’s hard. When I saw Barack’s speech on race, I cried and I felt like, there’s the speech I’ve been wanting to write. I’ve been thinking about writing about race for a long time. It’s very interesting how we feel about each other in terms of race. When I’m around Black or White people, I’m always in the middle. Especially when I am around Black people; they will really tell how they feel about White people regardless of the fact that I’m also White and have White relatives. It’s very interesting and can be really hard.

Essence.com: It’s definitely an issue our society still faces.

K.P.: Exactly. And I’m married to a White man, and then my daughter came out looking like the whitest White child with blonde hair and blue eyes. And I’m like, Omigosh, now what am I going to do? She has my mom’s features and is lighter than my husband. And my boy is browner than I am. Brown eyes and really tan. The race thing is something we continue to deal with and just have to learn to love ourselves and others.

In 2005,Karyn and her husband wanted to “instill a sense of culture and heritage to their daughter” and so they started an award-winning collection of African-American children’s DVD’s.

Essence.com: Congrats to you on the success of your award-winning collection of African-American children’s DVDs, which aired on HBO. How did you get into writing for children?

Karyn Parsons: While I was on Fresh Prince, my mother, who was head of book resources at a college library, told me the incredible story of Henry ‘Box’ Brown, a slave who mailed himself in a small box from Virginia to Pennsylvania to find freedom. Talk about determination! That was such an obvious story to tell kids and it stayed with me. A few years later, I talked to my husband about it. He was really fascinated with it as well and pushed me to just do it, and bring the story to life.

Essence.com: Well, we are glad you did. That is an eye-opening story that people need to know.

K.P.: And they really have been receptive. I started my company Sweet Blackberry in 2004 and The Journey of Henry ‘Box’ Brown was our first DVD. It was an easy way to introduce slavery to young kids. It can be difficult for parents and teachers to explain that part of our history. It was an interesting experience and kept me thinking, Is that too much? Does the whip crack in this scene? We all love to hear a good story, and Alfre Woodard was amazing as the narrator. It aired on HBO in February for Black History Month. Our second story was Garret’s Gift, about a teenage Garret A. Morgan, who invented the traffic light, and Queen Latifah narrated for us, which was great.

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119 Comments to “KARYN PARSONS:IT’S HARD BEING BIRACIAL IN AMERICA/RAISING BIRACIAL KIDS”

  • Davidbarkev February 13, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Prejudice and bigotry originate from personal experiences. Since everyone has them, everyone is prejudiced and bigoted. The key is what you do and the approach you take to compensating or dealing with them. So many reinforce hurtful stereotypes and prejudices that it may appear that there is no hope. But the lessons we can take from our past are that there are many reasons to hope. Perseverance and effort are the keys. When I meet someone who is not making any attempt to address there hurtful prejudices, I walk away. Time is too short.

  • Colin May 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Her kids will have less of a problem than those born into broken families or poor ones. She need not worry all too much. My own has two daughters from there mothers 1st marriage. My wife divorced him and eventually moved quite a way from him. He was, unfortunately, ghetto. He was chronically unfaithful. The oldest never dated a black boy or man. The youngest accused her of being a race traitor and went to the worst end of “being authentically black” as a nightmare could construct. Their Mom tried raising them without regard to race and without mentioning their Dad and things didn’t quite go very well. I am of German and Irish descent. Being raised in a ‘white’ home with your birth mother, who has a ‘white’ husband, didn’t erase any problems for them growing up. I love them as much as I can and always will. Their children are my grandchildren. I’m the only Dad they’ve ever known and ever will.

    Openness and honesty make a big difference.

  • Matthias Kalt March 13, 2013 at 2:31 am

    Definitely an interesting and inspirational interview. I wish that the older folks would just stop instilling hatred and racism into their children and grandchildren, so that the new generation will become free of prejudice and stereotypes. A comment as simple and seemingly innocent as “that’s how the Mexicans are” does leave a mark in our children’s minds and can later on develop into a form of racism.

    I have a rule. Never judge a person by his/her color or nationality. This includes never asking a person where he/she is from or where his/her parents originally come from. Once you hear the answer,a million things might go on in your head leading to conclusions, judgements and misconceptions. It’s better to get to know a person and look beyond color, race and gender.

  • Bobbie December 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Karen Parson is a great actress, and this world is a mess, they will never be satisfied, look at people in their own race, all races don’t get along 100%. Just be happy who you are, God knew who you were going to be, before your parents even thought about you. He made us all, and what God has made, he made very good and he’s proud of us. He loves all of us, i would like to see Karen Parson in some more movies, she is so pretty, and don’t cut you hair. If they want it short, wear a wig, or weave. She is a natural beauty. I would like to she her play a wife and mother. Or a Lawyer, Doctor, come on their is so many roles she can play. Like in the Family Reunion, that Tyler Perry made,she could have easily played one of the sisters, cousins, give me a break. It seems like once you do a sitcom, they don’t give these actress,many other roles in Hollywood. Hope to see you see in the big screen again. I like the movie Major Payne.

  • in love November 17, 2010 at 12:32 am

    I find it to be hard to be white in america. Where I live in south texas I here a lot of mexicans say white people are so racist. White people look at me. I feel like as a white person how can you be comfortable and chill with people when if you do something or say. Something wrong, people automatically assume you are racist just because you have white skin. I feel like you can say whatever you want about white people but you better not say anything about anyone else, or prepare to get ur ass kicked or chewed out. I married outside my race and my husband is not like most people I come across who always want to tell me how they have it harder or how white people are. He loves me for me and he is definitly special. I don’t care what the rest of america thinks about our interacial marriage. Love has no color.

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