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Katherine Heigl shares how she's talking to her children about race

"I didn't know how to say there will be people in this world that don't like you simply because of the color of your skin."
/ Source: TODAY

Katherine Heigl is using her time at home during the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to have important conversations about race with her kids.

The former "Grey's Anatomy" star shares three children with husband Josh Kelley: a 12-year-old daughter, Naleigh, who was born in South Korea, an 8-year-old daughter, Adalaide, who is Black, and a son, Joshua, who turns 4 on Dec. 20.

Earlier this year, as Black Lives Matter protests erupted around the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody, Heigl struggled to know how to discuss the subject of racism with her daughters, the 42-year-old actor revealed during a virtual interview Thursday on "The Kelly Clarkson Show."

"I didn't know how to say there will be people in this world that don't like you simply because of the color of your skin," she shared. "I just didn't know how to say that because my job as their mother is to build up their self-esteem and encourage self-confidence. ...

"I just thought, 'I'm going to take a piece of their soul with this.'"

Over the past few months, Heigl and her husband have figured out ways to get tough conversations about racism started.

"What we started doing is watching a lot of programs together," Heigl said. During one program that focused on racism, the parents turned off the TV after "some nasty, ugly things were said."

"We stopped it to talk to Adalaide, and said, 'Now, Adalaide, you know that if somebody ever said something like that to you or treated you that way, that has nothing to do with you. That's completely about them,'" she said.

Adalaide responded by telling her parents she already knew she was "beautiful and super cool," Heigl recalled, laughing.

Heigl, who stars in the upcoming Netflix drama "Firefly Lane," opened up in May about how difficult it was for her to discuss George Floyd's deathwith Adalaide.

Next to a photo of Adalaide she posted on Instagram, the "27 Dresses" star revealed that her concern for her daughter was keeping her up at night.

"How will I tell Adalaide? How will I explain the unexplainable? How can I protect her? How can I break a piece of her beautiful divine spirit to do so?" she wrote.

"I lay in my bed in the dark and weep for every mother of a beautiful divine Black child who has to extinguish a piece of their beloved baby’s spirit to try to keep them alive in a country that has too many sleeping soundly. Eyes squeezed shut. Images and cries and pleas and pain banished from their minds," she continued.

Heigl went on to say that it took her too long to wake up to "the abhorrent, evil despicable truth of racism," in part, because she was raised in a loving multiracial household.

"My upbringing of inclusivity, love and compassion seemed normal. I thought the majority felt like I did," she wrote. "I couldn’t imagine a brain that saw the color of someone’s skin as anything but that. Just a color."

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