Watson experienced that herself the day before our conversation when, during a visit to a New York City department store, she says she was followed around as she shopped.

"So when people say race doesn't matter, that is not true," she said. "Racism will never die in this country until people change the way they perceive others and otherness in general."

Watson's daughter, Persiah Acorn, said she didn't really understand what her mother was talking about until she encountered racism in high school. Since then, she has watched people perceive her a certain way just because of the color of her skin.

"If I had on, let's say, clothes just like you, let's say I even worked at CNN, it wouldn't make a difference. People still treat me the same way because I'm African-American," said Acorn, a senior at Howard University.

"People still scoot away from me on the subway. I've had open seats and no one sits next to me, and it makes me wonder why. ... For some reason, there's still almost a fear or a distaste for me just because of my race."

One way to bridge the distance, Pimpare said, is to embrace the scary and uncomfortable -- and have conversations about race with our children.

"We're terrible about talking about race in particular and the way that we get better at talking about race is talking about race, and we have to find ways to do it," he said.

What do you think is the best way to talk to children about race and class? Tell Kelly Wallace on Twitter or CNN Living on Facebook.