From left, Korie Robertson, Willie Robertson, Mendeecees Harris and Yandy Smith-Harris talked racism on “At Home With the Robertsons.” (Photo: Facebook Watch)
Korie and Willie Robertson, familiar to fans of the former reality show Duck Dynasty, opened up about raising a biracial son, 19-year-old Will, on the first episode of their new Facebook Watch show, At Home with the Robertsons.
“To me, it’s always shocking,” Korie said of encountering racism. “I remember when the Charlottesville thing happened. It’s just so sad to me and, you know, having a son that’s Black and biracial, just to, you know, have to explain that to him, you wanna just say, ‘Oh, no, no, no … that’s in the past. But whenever it’s right there in your face, you’re like, ‘No, it’s not in the past.”
She was speaking with her husband and son, as well as Love and Hip Hop stars Yandy and Mendeecees Harris, who are Black. The Harrises were the first guests on the Robertsons’ new show about having open conversations about topics that aren’t always easy to talk about.
Willie explained that the adoption happened because he and his wife were told there was a waiting list of 1-2 years, unless they were willing to adopt a biracial child. They said they just wanted a child to love.
“We didn’t think about [race] until the show happened,” Korie explained, “and people said, ‘Wait. Who’s the Black kid? Who does he belong to?'”
The Robertsons co-starred alongside their extended family members on the reality show from 2012 to 2017. It followed their adventures running a business for duck hunters in Louisiana. They adopted Will, who was born to a Black father and a white mother, when he was five weeks old. Will was 10 when Duck Dynasty debuted, but people made a lot of “ugly comments” about him.
“I was one of the only Black kids in my grade,” Will said. “My friends were white, so I didn’t, like, get the notion that I was … different. I would look at myself in the mirror and be like, ‘Oh, I’m just a little bit darker.”
But he realized he was “a lot different” as he grew older.
Yandy, who has two children with Mendeecees and shares two of his children from previous relationships, told Will that it’s important for him to learn about his culture.
“Your heritage is mixed, so it can’t just die because you’ve been brought up in a different place or, you know, with a different group of people that love you,” she said, “because you have to be able to pass down your heritage as well.”
Mendeecees asked about whether Will’s parents worry about him being pulled over by the police. Had they taught him how to conduct himself if that happened?
“You know, I haven’t, because I’ve never once worried about that,” Willie said.
Yandy explained that it was needed.
“You haven’t had to think about that, but these are the kinds of conversations that [Mendeecees] has to have with his sons,” Yandy said. “We can cut off the beard. We can not get tattoos, and we can prevent those things from happening but you can’t wash off your skin.”
Mendeecees said he stresses that his sons should simply comply with orders from law enforcement.
Yandy added: “It’s not what your education level was, it’s not if you’re 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. There’s kind of just an unspoken law, unspoken way you conduct yourself so that you won’t get murdered or get beat up or get arrested.”
The Robertsons found the exchange helpful.
“I did not necessarily have a talk with Will about police,” Willie said, “because I felt like I covered that his whole life about respecting authority. However, that’s why we brought Yandy and Mendeecees here. They had a different perspective.”
Korie said the conversation was an important one for her son to have with a Black man.
“As parents of a child of color, you don’t know what you don’t know,” she said.
New episodes of At Home with The Robertsons premiere every Monday and Thursday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT.
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