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Angelina Jolie Says Daughter Zahara Experienced Bias After Surgery Because of Her Race

Sharing her story. Angelina Jolie explained how her 16-year-old daughter Zahara’s race affected her post-surgery care.

Related: Angelina Jolie's Most Inspiring Motherhood Quotes Over the Years

“Recently my daughter, Zahara, whom I adopted from Ethiopia, had surgery, and afterward a nurse told me to call them if her skin ‘turned pink,’” the actress, 46, told medical student Malone Mukwende in a Wednesday, June 23, Time interview.

Angelina Jolie Reflects on Daughter Zahara Experiencing Bias After Surgery Because of Her Race
Angelina Jolie and Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt. Masatoshi Okauchi/Shutterstock

The Los Angeles native spoke further to Mukwende about the lack of knowledge surrounding conditions and diseases’ appearances in non-white patients.

Related: See Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's Family Album, Pics With 6 Kids

“I have children from different backgrounds, and I know when there was a rash that everybody got, it looked drastically different depending on their skin color,” the Oscar winner said. “But whenever I looked at medical charts, the reference point was always white skin.”

Mukwende took note of that bias “very early on” in his medical studies, he told Jolie, explaining, “Almost the entirety of medicine is taught in that way. There’s a language and a culture that exists in the medical profession, because it’s been done for so many years and because we are still doing it so many years later it doesn’t seem like it’s a problem. However, like you’ve just illustrated, that’s a very problematic statement for some groups of the population because it’s just not going to happen in that way and if you’re unaware you probably won’t call the doctor.”

In March, Jolie wrote in a Times essay that two of her daughters had undergone surgery. (The Maleficent star is also the mother of Maddox, 19, Pax, 17, Shiloh, 15, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 12.)

“I have spent the last two months in and out of surgeries with my eldest daughter, and days ago watched her younger sister go under the knife for a hip surgery,” the Golden Globe winner wrote at the time. “They know that I am writing this, because I respect their privacy and we discussed it together and they encouraged me to write. They understand that going through medical challenges and fighting to survive and heal is something to be proud of. I have watched my daughters care for one another. My youngest daughter studied the nurses with her sister, and then assisted the next time. I saw how all my girls so easily stopped everything and put each other first and felt the joy of being of service to those they love.”

Related: Putting the Kids 1st! These Former Celeb Couples Are Crushing Coparenting

The filmmaker added that the little ones’ brothers were also “there for them, supportive and sweet.”

She praised Zahara and her sister’s “resolute bravery,” concluding, “We all know that moment when no one else can help us, and all we can do is close our eyes and breathe. When only we can take the next step or breathe through the pain, so we steady ourselves and do it.”

Last month, Us Weekly confirmed that Jolie’s ex-husband Brad Pitt won joint custody of their kids after the duo were declared legally single in 2019. The Emmy nominee felt “bitterly disappointed,” a source exclusively told Us following the ruling.

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