FAMILY AFFAIR: Garcelle Beauvais with her sons Jax and Jaid
US ACTRESS Garcelle Beauvais believes that mixed race people shouldn’t be expected to embrace one of their cultural heritages over the other.
The Haitian-born, US-raised star of films including Coming to America and White House Down, has two mixed race sons, Jax and Jaid with her former husband, Mike Nilon, and she firmly believes that her boys shouldn’t have to choose whether they see themselves as black or white.
Referring to golfer Tiger Woods’ highly-publicised refusal to categorise himself as black – choosing instead to refer to himself as “Cablinasian,” to acknowledge his Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian heritage – Beauvais says people of mixed backgrounds should be free to embrace all of their cultural heritages.
“When Tiger Woods shot to fame and everybody was talking about him, when he didn’t refer to himself as black, I remember the black community being outraged by that,” the 47-year-old recalls.
“But I don’t know why anybody [of mixed heritage] should have to choose. Why should my kids have to dismiss their dad’s heritage because they have a black mum? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Why can’t people just be happy with what they are and not have to choose?”
Beauvais, who recently co-wrote the children’s book I Am Mixed with author Sebastian A. Jones, believes that books of this nature are important, to evoke conversations between parents and children about modern day multicultural society.
“A few weeks ago, we were on a baseball field and a little white boy came up to me and said, ‘You’re Jax and Jaid’s mum?’ I said ‘Yep.’ He said, ‘But you’re brown and their dad is white!’ I said, ‘Yes, that’s true!’
“That little boy said that innocently and that made me realise that a book like [I Am Mixed] will really help to start that type of conversation.”
She adds: “Since the book has been out, we’ve had people coming up to us saying, ‘I wish this book had been out when I was younger’ or ‘thank you for writing this book’. It’s unbelievable that the book has reached so many people.”
Read the full exclusive interview with Garcelle Beauvais in the next issue of The Voice, out on Thursday (Dec 12)