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St. Jude Radiothon 2024
2016 Toronto International Film Festival

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With everything happening in America today—from racism to discrimination to police brutality—being Black isn’t easy.

But, what’s even more challenging is being a parent of a young Black son and living in fear that one day he may become a hashtag. This is a struggle many know well, including Gabrielle Union.

The Being Mary Jane actress and November cover star recently sat down with ESSENCE and discussed what it’s like for her and husband Dwayne Wade raising sons Zaire, Xavier and Zion in 2016.

“Our conversations about race and police are constant,” she says. “And even if society didn’t give us hashtags everyday to prompt us we’d be talking about it.”

She shares how she’s constantly aware of the fact that she’s raising privileged Black boys in an open carry state, remembering a time when she feared for their safety walking down the street one night. According to Union, the boys wanted to go down the street to a neighbor’s basketball court. She said no because it was after dark.

“I don’t trust our neighbors to not see our teenage boys, our tall teenage boys as children and not as threats to ‘put down,’” the actress said.

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