The actress said it was "heartbreaking" trying to explain the recent killing of George Floyd to her 7-year-old son Tennessee

By Benjamin VanHoose
June 01, 2020 01:02 PM
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Reese Witherspoon
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Reese Witherspoon is encouraging parents to engage in a dialogue about racism and privilege.

On Thursday, the Oscar winner, 44, opened up about the recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while in police custody, and how she explained the nationwide outrage over police brutality to her youngest, son Tennessee James, 7½.

Witherspoon — who is also mom to son Deacon, 16, and daughter Ava, 20 — said there is "enough hate in the world" and urged fans to aim for "discussion, understanding, growth and LOVE" in a powerful message on Instagram.

"Last night at dinner, my 7-year-old asked why all the grown ups were so upset. We spoke to him about what happened to George Floyd," she wrote. "Being a white mother trying to explain racism and bigotry to her white son, who did not understand why anyone would treat another human being that way, was heartbreaking."

"But not nearly as heartbreaking as being a victim of one of these senseless, violent, unconscionable crimes," she continued. "Not nearly as heartbreaking as being one of the families who have experienced loss and harassment and discrimination daily. Not nearly as heartbreaking as being a mother who lives in fear of what will happen to her children in this world."

The Little Fires Everywhere star said while growing up religious, she was "taught that we were all the same in the eyes of God," but "that is not what I grew up seeing."

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"It was as hard for me to reconcile the difference between what I was taught in church and what I see in the world. I don’t want that for my kids. Or for yours," wrote Witherspoon.

The actress added that everyone has to "be held accountable for what is happening in this country."

"What happened to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery - and countless others - can not go without justice," she said. "Please talk to your children about racism, privilege, bigotry and hate. If you aren’t talking to them, someone else is."

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Countless celebrities echoed Witherspoon's sentiments in the comment section, including singer Pink, who wrote: "Thank you for these words. You are so right."

Jenna Dewan commented, "Beautifully said❤️," while Helena Christensen added, "You wake up every day feeling so disheartened knowing that is what’s going on in the world, every day, somewhere 😔💔"

To accompany her personal message, Witherspoon re-shared a viral quote that reads, "Don't ignore something because it makes you uncomfortable."