Angela Bassett stars in Black Panther, Marvel’s first standalone black superhero movie, as the mother to the titular hero and his sister Shuri, the princess of Wakanda. While the landmark movie doesn’t hit theaters until Friday, the action film is already being praised for offering representation not often seen in its genre, and the positive influence that will have on young viewers.
Unfortunately Bassett — mom to 12-year-old twins Bronwyn and Slater — says her daughter and son haven’t been spared from experiencing race-related prejudice from their peers.
“Even from the age of four, from preschool, they’ve had to deal with — and as crazy as it seems or sounds — color issues,” she tells PEOPLE’s Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle in the latest episode of The Jess Cagle Interview (streaming now on People TV). “Or because they were African Americans, and whether other kids will play with them or have issue with that.”
The actress, 59, believes kids aren’t born racist, though. “It can’t come from their young minds,” Bassett continues. “It’s something that they’ve heard somewhere.”
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But that still doesn’t justify why her children should be on the receiving end of hate.
For more on Angela Bassett, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
“It makes you gasp and it just squeezes your heart sometimes, because you never want your kids to go through these sort of pain issues,” the 9-1-1 star says. “Or you thought it’d be much later, once they get a firm footing of who they are.”
Black Panther is out Friday.