It's a subject that the actress has rarely broached, until now.
"It's frustrating as hell to me to have somebody who ain't lost nothing try to talk to me about it," she told Glamour magazine for its November cover. "I want to say, 'Don't even bother, because you know nothing.' But you never know how much you can get through until you're going through it."
In 2012, Hudson's former brother-in-law William Balfour was convicted of murdering her three family members and sentenced to life in prison. Hudson, 34, said that what helped her cope in the immediate aftermath of the crimes was the birth of her son, David, with her fiancé David Otunga, in 2009.
"I went from being an aunt, having a mom, and being a child to not having a mom, becoming a mom, and raising my own child," she explained. "I tell David all the time, 'You saved my life.'"
Now, the actress, who will make her Broadway debut in "The Color Purple" next month, is working on a project that speaks to her experience: Spike Lee's upcoming film, "Chiraq," which deals with gun violence. She told the magazine that she's already begun discussing the subject, as well as race, with her six-year-old.
"I've started by telling him some of the world's greatest people—leaders and athletes—are black people," she says. "But I also tell him the reality of things. When a little black boy was playing in a playground with a toy gun and got shot by police, I told him, 'You can't go outside and play with a gun. That's not safe or smart for you to do.' I want to teach him, to make him able to make smart decisions for himself."