- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Korie and Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame kicked off their new Facebook Watch series, “At Home with the Robertsons,” with candid talk about raising a biracial child — and gained some potentially lifesaving advice for their adopted son, Will Robertson Jr.
Yandy and Mendeecees Harris of VH1 1/4 u2032s “Love & Hip Hop” joined them to discuss racism and what it means to raise a Black son in the United States.
Race, and racism, were not on the Robertsons’ minds when they adopted Will Jr., now 19 and in college, they said in the episode. What they wanted was another child, and when they were told that adopting someone who was biracial would cut their waiting time by as much as two years, they jumped at the chance.
“No one in our circle thinks of other people because of the color of their skin in any way different, so we just didn’t see it at all,” Korie Robertson said. “It was all love, an all excitement, and all just gratefulness for this beautiful baby boy that we had.”
The Harrises outlined some of what that love needs to entail, when it comes to raising a Black child.
“I think love should be what connects a family,” Yandy Harris told Will Jr., who also joined the discussion, giving his perspective on being raised by white parents. “But I also think it’s important for wherever you come from to know your history and also to know your roots.”
The Robertsons got some insight into what their son might encounter outside the family’s safe haven when they starred in “Duck Dynasty” and the racist comments started flying — “all these racist people making all kinds of ugly comments,” Willie Robertson said. It was hard knowing that then-10-year-old Willie Jr. could see what was being said about him, based solely on his skin color.
Regardless of a Black person’s education level, attire, or lack of beard and tattoos, they always have to be prepared for the possibility that they’ll be perceived and treated differently, especially when it comes to dealing with law enforcement, Yandy and Mendeecees Harris said. They asked the Robertsons if they had ever versed their son on what to do if stopped by police.
“You know, I haven’t because I never once worried about that,” Willie Robertson said. “I think I taught them to be respectful, to any type of authority — with teachers, with anyone.”
This, Yandy Harris said, is where white and Black experience can diverge.
“It’s a difference because ... you haven’t had to think about that,” she said, saying of her husband, “But these are the conversations that he has to have with his son.”
A Black person, especially a man, being pulled over might well be ordered out of the car after showing his license and registration, rather than simply being issued a ticket. In which case, “respect” translates, for a Black person, into “compliance,” the Harrises pointed out.
Both he and Yandy Harris emphasized that a split-second misperception could mean the difference between life and death.
“In our community, this is what leads to getting beat up, getting dragged, getting arrested,” Yandy Harris said. “It’s not what your education level was, it’s not if you were in the process of committing a crime, it’s not always even what you’re wearing. Your skin color, your hair texture, precedes all of that, unfortunately, in America.”