How and when to talk to your kids about “race” and other ethnicity?

Lastnight as we were watching the San Diego Chargers vs the San Francisco 49ers game by son blurted out, “Why are most football players and basketball players black?” I was in shock and turned to look at my Husband. We stared at eachother in silence. I then stuttered and said, “Well look at how big they are…and they are fast, that’s why.” 
I knew there would come a time when my son(s) would ask about why people look different, why people are different colors..etc. But I didn’t think it would be this soon. My son’s best friend in school is African American. They have been BFF’s since Pre-K and have been in the same class together the last 3 years. I had always wondered if/when he would ask why Justin was darker than he is. We also have many close friends who are African American and he has never asked…until now. 
What do you say? How do you explain it to a 6 year old (and a 3 year old)? I have always told myself that I didn’t want to teach my kids color. But I always knew they would notice one day. I put the comment on my Facebook post and many of my friends had tips on talking about it. I wanted to share with my Blogging Friends and other Moms to see what they thought. I would love to hear your stories or advice.
So how do you talk to your kids about different ethnicity and race?

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