I have been a huge fan of Taraji P. Henson for quite some time. Obviously, she is a brilliant actress, but I also admire her path to success and her honesty when opening up about being a single mother while trying to make her dreams come true. Now, in her cover story for Uptown magazine, Taraji P. Henson has shared a personal and unfortunate racial profiling incident that affected herself and her 20-year-old son, Marcel, deeply.
She told Uptown,
My child has been racially profiled. He was in Glendale, California and did exactly everything the cops told him to do, including letting them illegally search his car. It was bogus because they didn’t give him the ticket for what he was pulled over for.
This anecdote from Henson is extremely relevant today, because of the unfortunate incidents in the news centering around the discrimination, brutality, and excessive use of power by authorities that is all too familiar to many young black men. Just last week, a black student from the University of Virginia was left bloodied after an arrest at a local bar, where many onlookers claimed that the student, Martese Johnson, was not showing any signs of resistance or threats to warrant the assault by the cops.
But Henson's story does not stop there. Another profiling incident by cops lead her to make the important decision to send her son to her own alma mater, Howard University, instead of the University of Southern California. She continued,
Then he’s at University of Southern California, the school that I was going to transfer him to, when police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets. So guess where he’s going? Howard University. I’m not paying $50K so I can’t sleep at night wondering is this the night my son is getting racially profiled on campus.
I applaud this decision by Henson and given that she has the means to decide where she can send her son, she is making the best decision for her family. In the past, the actress has shared how involved she is with her son's education, and once told Jimmy Fallon that she made her son sit out of his first semester of college so he could get a job to help pay for his schooling. She told Fallon of her tough love, saying,
I don’t want to raise this privileged kid, who’s out of touch, so I made him sit out the first semester and he has to get a job ... I need him to see how real it is out here. It builds character. I told him, "College is like an investment. I’m investing my money in your future, and if I feel like you’re a bad investment, I’m taking my money back."
Of course, Henson's parenting decision is her own, and clearly she is a mother who is protective and concerned for the well-being and growth of her son. As I see it, it is unfortunate that she cannot feel safe sending Marcel to any college in this country, so it makes sense to put him in a community that will nurture him and build him up in just the way that made her the proud, successful, and intelligent woman that she is today.
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