Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Privilege and Racism in the Wake of George Floyd's Death

Reese Witherspoon Urges Fans to "Talk to Your Children About Racism, Privilege, Bigotry and Hate"

In a report released Monday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner listed Floyd's cause of death as a homicide — specifically, "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." It also said he "experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)."

Chauvin, the officer who pinned Floyd to the ground, has been charged with third-degree murder, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years. He and the three other officers present were fired from the Minneapolis police department last week. Floyd's family is seeking a first-degree murder charge to be filed against Chauvin.

In his essay for The Atlantic, Smith — who is the author of Counting Descent and the upcoming How the Word Is Passed — shares that he "wrote a letter to the son [he] might one day have" in 2015, in which he said, " 'I hope to teach you so much of what my father taught me, but I pray that you live in a radically different world from the one that he and I have inherited.' "

"Now I do have a son, and all the fears, anxieties, and joys I wrote about five years ago are no longer an abstraction," Smith adds in the essay. "They exist in his curly hair, his soft face, and his voice full of songs and questions. I am not sure how different the world I entered is from the one he has, but the past several weeks — to say nothing of the past several years — have made clear how fragile the project of progress truly is."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero ( which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement ( provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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