We live in an era where differences are celebrated as superpowers. That is because for so long, people were treated poorly for not being just like everyone else. Some of our favorite celebrities have used their platforms to shine a light on themselves and others who struggled with people who were a little different, especially growing up. Empire star Grace Byers has turned her upbringing into two children’s books championing kids who are different and recently stopped by the Tamron Hall show to discuss the struggles she faced growing up.
Grace Byers is a beautiful and accomplished actress, author, and activist. However, when she was growing up, Byers had issues with other kids due to her being biracial and having deaf parents. Byers mother was Afro-Caribbean from the Cayman Islands, and her father was white from Pennsylvania. Despite the obvious obstacles she faced for being biracial, Byers admits that it was her parents being deaf that was harder for being to understand. For her, it was completely normal, and she was more shocked to realize that everyone else’s parents were not deaf. “The biggest shock for was to see other children have parents who were hearing,” she told Hall. “Deaf culture is harder for people to understand than being biracial.”
Byers admits that when other kids would hear her mother talk or see her sign that they would look at her funny. “It was strange for the kids to comprehend,” she recalls. Byers understands that there is still so much work that needs to be done around accepting differences and wishes that she had those answers as a child. She recalls feeling “ostracized” and “othered.”
For Tamron Hall, the story immediately reminded her of being raised by a single mother and the embarrassment she sometimes felt when she’d see other kids with both parents, and she only had a mom. Both women agree that this type of early childhood shame or trauma can deeply impact how you enter the world as an adult. “It can impact how you see yourself and your journey,” said Byers.
Tamron brought up a quote from Byers’ Instagram where she said, “for years, I hid my shine and coerced myself out of my worth.” The lengthy caption was a celebration of Byers’s journey as someone getting familiar with their differences and figuring out who they are. The post goes on to say, “Many of us have felt the pain of being torn down and rejected by women. I realized quickly, in the midst of it all, that I could either become the same through my hurt – or continue to support, uplift, and encourage other women in their God-given purpose and talents. I will forever choose the latter.” She concludes it with, “Let us, as Black Women of all backgrounds, continue to stand together as one: a united and galvanized front. Knowing that as long as we are divided, we will miss the experience and significant impact of moving together in power, solidarity, and love.” Byers currently stars opposite Megan Good on the Amazon series Harlem.