Recently, I debuted part 1 of my conversation with Kellie Shanygne Williams who playedthe character of Laura Winslow on the hit 90’s TGIF show Family Matters. While we talked extensively about the show- more of which is to come in the third and final part of my interview with Williams- we also talked about a very relevant topic today: Black Lives Matter.
Kellie’s Father Carl On Family Matters Was A Cop
Williams and I got on the topic of Black Lives Matter initially by discussing how Family Matters touched on relevant topics. I noted that there has been a lot of pushback against police as of late while in the same vein pointing out that the character of Carl Winslow (Laura’s father on Family Matters) was a police officer. I asked Williams if she felt that there would have been pushback with Carl being a cop and everything going on with the pushback against police and if Carl’s occupation may have been different.
“No,” Williams began with sharing, “because- and this is something that we highlighted… The Black Lives Matter movement is not (saying) defund the police, all police are bad. We need police.”
“I saw Ice Cube said once he said they made a song called ‘F—k The Police.’ He said ‘but if something goes down in my house, who am I gonna call? I’m calling the police.”
So would it have been an issue with Carl being a cop, then?
Williams explicitly said that “I don’t think it would have been a problem because Black Lives Matter are against police who abuse their power. And that’s not what Carl was. And that’s not what the show was about. So I don’t think it would have been an issue.”
Williams did note though that she believes the show- and the Winslow Family- would have “definitely” addressed the issues going on regarding police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“it wasn’t as much of an issue and it was appropriate for the 90s,” Williams explained. “I definitely think we would have dealt with it.”
I’m Not Putting Up With That Crap
Williams and I then spoke more extensively about the Black Lives Matter movement in general. When asked why she thought it’s taken America so long to wake up to the issues at hand, Williams shared that “I think because- I think my generation and younger- I don’t want this to be misunderstood on this so I’m highlighting this. I am so appreciative of all the sacrifices that people have made in the past. realize that anything I have ever hoped to have will be was bought and paid for in sacrifice and blood.”
“But,” Williams continued, “ I think that younger people now- and the reason why it’s such an issue- is that I’m not my Grandma. Do you know what I mean? I’m not violent. But I’m not putting up with that crap. And so it’s a problem because an institution has to make major changes, and they’re unwilling to do it.”
“However,” Williams added, “in order to maintain your place in society, you have to. And that is the reason why we’re having such a difficult time, is that, people want to maintain the status quo. I’m not willing to do that with you. I’m unwilling to allow you to treat me that way. I’m not marching. I’m not singing. I’m not doing none of that. You’re gonna do it or, you know, we’re gonna have to take a different route”
I then went further into the topic, asking Williams if she thinks having President Donald Trump in office has helped awaken the nation to how much he’s divided people in terms of the racial issues that are present.
“I think it doesn’t help,” Williams shared. “I’m actually one of the people who think that he’s actually good for America. I think that he has awakened a sleeping giant in this country that we have not been able, or willing to deal with, in so long. And that he has provoked people to be who they really are. And so, I think it’s a good thing. When you’re forced to deal with something, that’s always good. Because then you make progress.”
Williams is a mother to two children, John Ervin Jackson and Hannah Belle Jackson.
When I asked Williams how she deals with explaining these hard topics to her children- and how she’s going doing so- Williams shared that “It’s extremely hard, because peripherally, they’re still watching the news, they see what’s happening. And I remember my son being afraid of the police, just from the news, not from anything I said, I don’t think, but he was like, /the police are bad.’ And I was like, ‘no, no, no, it’s, it’s finding the appropriate balance with letting them know that there’s boundaries in every relationship. And some people do bad things. But there are a lot of great police who help you and who want to be upstanding, great members of society.’”
“So I have a conversation whenever it comes up,” Williams added, “or if I see them looking at a news story or something, I’ll just bring it up, and then we’ll discuss it from there.”
Williams then recounted an experience she recalls with her father and the police, detailing that “I remember one time I was riding with my father. And it was something surrounding the police. And I remember him- the way he was speaking about it, it made me know that he was fearful. And I will never forget that I brought that up to him. And when the person that you think is like a rock star, if they are uncomfortable with a confrontation with that, it makes you look at it in a very specific way.”
“So I want my children- I don’t want my son to have that same kind of unease when it comes to dealing with the police,” Williams stated. “And so I try to always communicate and talk because the police are here to help us. Their other name is peace officer. They keep the peace. So we just have to approach it in a very balanced way knowing that ultimately, they’re here for our good. But until they fix these bad apples, it’s a problem.”
Williams also noted a sad fact, detailing that “You always wonder how many more (deaths at the hands of police) were there before camera phones? I always think of that when I see another one come up. This one was taped. What about all the other ones that weren’t?”
Kellie Says No One Is Accountable
When asked for Williams’s reaction to the decision, she shared that “I feel bad to say that I wasn’t surprised. It’s disappointing to know that black lives, they don’t matter. They don’t. And no one is accountable when something like this happens to someone. Everybody else, it seems as though there are laws and people to protect them. When it comes to us, it doesn’t work that way. And that’s disappointing.”
“At a certain point,” Williams elaborated, “you know that this is an issue, it seems like you would take more care to be more on top of things when you know that this is an issue, right? This should be talked about in police rooms all over the country. Listen, we don’t want that. We don’t want this kind of publicity. So we’re going to take a different approach. Doing the same thing, the same way expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. But the only person that’s being driven insane are black folks.”
Williams did explain how having allies out there who are not Black- but support Black Lives Matter and fighting back against racial injustice- does help, though, noting that “To know that we have friends, it helps. Do you know what I mean? It helps. It helps to know that it’s not just us fighting for our rights. It’s that we have friends who are willing to put their bodies on the line to help as well.”
“You’ve heard that saying the quote from Martin Luther King,” Williams wrapped with noting. “In the end, you will remember not the voices of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. It’s always good to know that we have friends.”
From an interview standpoint- and reflecting on it now in writing this up- these were a particular poignant few moments in my conversation with Williams. I appreciate her candor when discussing this topic and how well thought out her responses were.
Make sure to stay tuned for the third part of my interview with Williams where we touch on cast members who departed Family Matters (and the situations involving their departures), the tenth season that never came to fruition, and more.