"Grey's Anatomy" star Ellen Pompeo is speaking out about the misperceptions that can befall mothers of biracial children.
"These are important conversations to have, and if you're afraid to talk about it then that's a problem right there," Pompeo, 49, said in host Jada Pinkett Smith's "Red Table Talk" panel-discussion show on Facebook Watch. Pompeo, who is the mother of daughters Stella, 9, and Sienna, 4, and son Eli, 23 months, with her biracial husband, Chris Ivery, added that, "My challenge with raising brown children is how much do you say to them and how much do you not say to them."
The actress — TV's third highest-paid, and the top-earning for a drama series, according to Forbes magazine — recalled that, "A couple of weeks ago I had some friends over [to] the house — little girls of color — and [one] little girl came in and I introduced myself and I said, 'I'm Stella's mom' … and she looked at me and she was, like, almost scared, y'know? This white lady. And then she went right to Stella and she said, 'That's your mom? … I thought that was your mom,' " pointing to the African-American caregiver.
"And the little baby looked like she was scared of me," Pompeo continued. "That just breaks my heart. Maybe scared is a strong word," she amended. "Confused. Maybe non-trusting. … That's why that experience of being in my house and meeting me was good for her, to see that all white people aren't what you think. As moms and dads, we have the responsibility to expose our children to all different types of people."
She also noted that unlike her daughters, "My son looks completely white. You couldn't even tell that he has any brown in him at all." Her daughters, she stressed, "will be discriminated against and they will be judged and they will be spoken to and they will be treated like they are brown because their skin is brown."
On Saturday, Pompeo tweeted, "I was humbled when @jadapsmith asked me to come to have a discussion about race. I by no means walk in anyone else's shoes only my own . . . I feel a responsibility to at least try to get people thinking or talking. Even if they disagree w me. obviously I’m ready for that. I just cannot sit & post selfies or do nothing with [t]his platform."