Shay Mitchell Opened Up About Already Teaching Her Toddler About Race

Atlas may only be 18 months old, but the conversation is starting now.

In a May 17th interview for Women’s Health, Shay Mitchell opened up about how she’s already approaching the topic of race-related bullying with her 18-month-old daughter, Atlas Babel. Mitchell, who is half-Filipino and half-white, said she not only experienced bullying in school but also saw her Filipino mother be othered throughout her childhood in Canada.

“[Asian-related racism is] something my mom has dealt with her whole life,” Mitchell told Women’s Health just a day after the tragic Atlanta shootings of six Asian women (eight people in total) took place. “When she and my dad were dating in the 1980s in Toronto, their relationship was looked down upon. On the bus with my dad, she would get the worst looks. They would tell me about going into a restaurant and people not serving them.”

She continued, I also saw it in real life. My mom would get derogatory remarks like, ‘Are you the cleaning lady? Are you the nanny?’ And she was like, ‘No, but what is your issue if I was?’ In school I was bullied—I’d get questions like, ‘Are you going to go clean the bathrooms?’

Mitchell further explained that she and her partner Matte Babel, who is half-white and half-Trinidadian, have already begun teaching themselves “how to have those appropriate conversations” with their daughter.

“Atlas is a mix of all of us. But she’s very fair-skinned and has light eyes and hair, so she doesn’t look like either of us,” Mitchell said. “We’re learning how to have those appropriate conversations. It starts with her dolls, with the toys she plays with, and the books we read to her, that have all different colors and ethnicities.”

The Pretty Little Liars alum said that she didn’t even think about having these types of conversations with her child when she was pregnant. It didn’t even dawn on her that she would be shaping the next generation to be more accepting of those who don’t necessarily look like them—but she’s taken on the challenge wholeheartedly.

“A new version of you will be birthed with this baby,” Mitchell said her doula told her, which she translates to, “Yes, you are going to lose something [an old version of herself]—but what you gain, obviously, is so worth it.”

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