Gabrielle Union said her daughter’s “superpower” of being the ultimate shade queen is a strong message and freedom bell for Black girls everywhere.
The former Being Mary Jane actress said her 2-year-old daughter Kaavia James’ “shady” moments are what characterize the little girl’s unique personality, HuffPost reported.
In an interview with People, Union said her daughter’s “shade is her superpower because when Kaavia gives you a look, it’s either you’re not respecting her boundaries or something is happening that she doesn’t like.”
“The main takeaway is that she’s free to be this amazing, dynamic, shady at times, loving at times Black little girl when the world has not been so kind to Black girls and women,” Union said, acknowledging the unfair and nefarious treatment toward Black women and girls present in today’s society.
Union’s delight in allowing Kaavia to be her own “free spirit” is not only setting a future precedent for her daughter, but for other little Black girls, too. It’s a clear message for Black girls to help them live more confidently and boldly.
“I was raised to assimilate,” the 48-year-old said in the interview. “I was raised to conform. But we are raising our kids to know they are worthy because they exist. We don’t want them to ever shape shift for anyone else’s approval or acceptance. We want them to be free to be who they are.”
On many occasions, however, Black women have been told to assimilate or calm down when frustrated. Such was the case after Serena Williams smashed her racket during a match against Naomi Osaka in 2018. In response to the incident, Breea Willingham, a professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh said to the Associated Press, “As black women…we’re expected to stay in our lane, that lane that has been created for us. Any time we step out of that lane, then we become a problem.”
“Some days you don’t feel like doing your hair. And some days you want to give people shade,” he said.
“If we allow our kids to be their true selves we don’t have to worry about them conforming with anything or anyone,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we push our kids to be their authentic selves?”
The couple had originally posted their daughter’s “shade” moments to their social media accounts, simply poking fun. They even created an Instagram page using the hashtag #Shadybaby, documenting Kaavia’s side-eye moments.
The picture of Kaavia on the couch, which clearly shows how unbothered she is, shortly went viral last year as a meme.