Ashley Graham is aware of her privilege as a white woman, which is why she’s having conversations now with her Black husband, photographer Justin Ervin, about how her future half-Black children will navigate the world differently she does.
“Being a white woman, who will potentially have children who will be Black, I have to switch my mind. I have to completely say, ‘Wow. I was never raised like that,’” Graham said on a recent episode of her podcast, Pretty Big Deal, with guest Gabrielle Union.
The 30-year-old model, who’s been married to Ervin for eight years, urged white people in interracial relationships to educate themselves about their partners’ race. “I have to educate myself, and I think in a lot of interracial relationships, that isn’t happening. They’re not having those kinds of conversations,” Graham said. “So, all the white women out there or all the white guys out there, you have to have these conversations when you’re in these relationships, because, as a white person, we live in a white world.”
But Graham doesn’t think all education should come from people of color. Understanding that people of color often have to “educate everyday,” Graham urges white people in interracial relationships to self-educate. “Well, as a black person, you live in a white world also,” Graham said, referring to Union. “It’s this constant harping that we don’t know about that you guys, not only have to explain yourselves everyday, that you have to educate everyday. Everything feels like a teachable moment, and it is exhausting.
Union, who called the constant education “exhausting” and “infuriating,” echoed Graham’s sentiments. She further explained to her how her children will be treated differently than her and how her privilege isn’t something that will be passed down to them. “You have to understand that your children will move through the world differently than you. Your money, your privilege, how you are adored will be different for your children,” Union said. “It’s not something that they get to carry with them as layers of protection.”
Union continued, “Once your kids are old enough to move through the world without you physically right there, they have to hope that the world treats them with the same love and kindness that you raised them with, and that they are aware enough that they come home to you, that they do all the things, consciously or subconsciously, that allow them to come home. This is life.”
Watch and listen to Graham’s full interview with Union below.