kristin davis advocates for better nonwhite representation in medicine: 'almost everything is very white-centric'

Kristin Davis Advocates for Better Nonwhite Representation in Medicine: ‘Almost Everything Is Very White-Centric’

Kristin Davis quickly became aware of the importance of representation for nonwhite individuals in this country after adopting two Black children. Her child’s struggles with eczema taught her that the problem not only exists in media, it’s apparent in the medical field as well.

In an interview with HuffPost, the actor discusses her observations and lived experience as a mother to nonwhite children.

As Davis was trying to find the right dermatologist to treat her child, it was clear how deeply flawed the industry is.

“Almost everything is very white-centric, so you have such a wake-up call when your children are Black,” she explained to HuffPost.

“You’re like, ‘Wow, this is crazy what people have to deal with,’” she continued. “When you’re looking for reference photos, you really have to be specific about dark skin because things are going to look different on dark skin. That was one of my struggles when I was looking for a dermatologist as well. Some dermatologists specialize in dark skin and some don’t.”

Davis adopted her daughter, Gemma Rose, in 2011 and her son, Wilson, in 2018. The actress, who earlier spoke about the complexities of transracial adoption in a moving episode of “Red Table Talk,” explained that her kids have really opened her eyes to the lack of diversity and representation in the U.S.

RELATED: ‘Sex and the City Star’ Kristin Davis Speaks Candidly About Adopting African-American Children as a White Woman

“You do definitely see a big difference, and I think it’s something we could change in all professions but especially the medical profession because everybody needs care, and everybody needs specific advice and reference points,” she said. “To see yourself reflected is really important for kids and obviously for everyone.”

While she has not disclosed which of her children has struggled with eczema (for privacy reasons), she did reveal that having a child dealing with a chronic skin condition left her feeling helpless and doubtful of her own instincts as a mom.

“It was so frustrating as a mom in the years that I was trying to figure out what was wrong and what I could do for my child to bring them some relief,” Davis admitted. “I think looking back on it, I wish that I had felt more empowered to talk to my doctor earlier. I think that in my own head and from other moms on the playground, people would kind of minimize it and say, ‘Oh, it’s just a rash’ because babies get a lot of kinds of rashes. And maybe it is just a rash, but for us it kept going and got worse and was kind of mysterious. I felt in my gut that something was really off, but everyone kept telling me, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry.’ I wish I had listened to my own feelings and spoken up to my doctor sooner.”

She described the condition worsening to the point of “cracked, oozing facial lesions.” The family finally received a diagnosis and learned more about the condition. Through a combination of topicals and discovering the triggers, they were able to get the flare-ups under control.

“You have to forgive yourself as a mom because you feel so frustrated and you feel like you want to fix it and you can’t fix it,” Davis emphasized. “There’s a lot of guilt. Just give yourself a break. And also feel empowered to talk to your own doctor. I was working in New York when it became a huge flare-up, and strangers would point it out.”

“My child didn’t necessarily know, but I thought, ‘We’ve got to handle this before my child is more aware,’” she said. “I had acne as a younger person, and it is really mortifying and you have so much pressure on yourself. As we age, we become more aware of everyone’s reactions to us and to our skin and I’d never want my child to feel different or excluded or thinking, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”

Davis does admit that feeling helpless is part of parenting, but she tries everything in her power to handle the pressures of being a mom.

“As much as we try, we can’t protect them from everything and solve everything,” she said. “I talk to my mom friends of course, and I talk to my own mom. But my own mom always says, ‘It’ll be fine.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, Mom, sometimes you need to do something.’ I google, just like everybody else. I try to really only go to really trusted medical websites. Certainly in the case of trying to figure out the eczema, I used to go down the parent chat boards, but then you’re just overwhelmed with advice from this different person. And I think with skin issues, there are so many different things that people can be treating and that may or may not apply to you. So you need to just pick a few sites really based in research and doctors’ opinions and really stick with those.”

Additionally, Davis prioritizes empowering her children. She explained that children’s books are her preferred tools. She recommended:  “Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi, “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” by Jill Twiss and “Be Who You Are” by Todd Parr.

RELATED: 10 Children’s Books to Help You Explain Racism and the Power of Protest to Your Kids

She’s also made a point to teach her kids perspective and instill gratitude for the life they enjoy.

“It’s an ongoing process,” she explained. “We have so much financial disparity in our country and the whole world. I took my children to South Africa and Zambia when I was working, and it was really eye-opening. They had the best time and learned about different ways people live. I think it’s very important to say people are born into the situation they’re born in, and it’s not a reflection on them. That was something I was taught growing up because I grew up in the South with a lot of rural area around me.”

The pandemic has been an opportunity for Davis to discuss how fortunate she and her family are to have so much free space to move around in.

“We talk a lot about how not everybody has space and how hard it must be for them to have to isolate without room to play,” she said. “To a kid, that’s real. To a mom, it’s real as well. I think about that all the time ― how incredible it is to be in such a lovely home going through this in. We have certain easing of the physical boundaries of the situation and we’re just incredibly lucky.”

Davis also discussed how she made a point of finding an economic and racially diverse school for her children to learn in.

“I try to open the bubble as much as I can, but having said that, it takes a lot,” she explained. “You think you’re good right then but then something else comes up. I also think exposing them through books and so many different ways that don’t not necessarily involve travel, though I do love that as a way of opening the world up.”

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