Taraji P. Henson to send her son to an all-black college so he won’t be profiled


If Pam Grier and Farrah Fawcett had a baby, it would look like Taraji P. Henson on this cover of Uptown. So much REALNESS. Anyway, I love Taraji. I loved her before Cookie on Empire and I’ll love her after. She’s amazing and beautiful and funny. It’s such a pleasure to see someone I’ve always liked and enjoyed blow up to be part of a cultural-phenomenon show like Empire. In Uptown, Taraji talks about riding this crazy wave of success and why her college-aged son is transferring to an all-black college. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

The success of Empire: “This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my career…I played a lot of characters that could’ve been borderline stereotypical women, but my job as an actress is to make the audience understand and empathize with the people. Cookie is a lot. She wears me out but I know this woman. I’ve done my research inside and out. I took Cookie from Lee and made her my own.”

She’s not about awards: “Right now, the hype is great. I hope that now, because of my name, people are starting to connect the dots. But for me, it’s not about awards because that’s so political, so finicky. Yes, having that beautiful trophy is a great accomplishment, but that doesn’t alter how I’m gonna move in this industry. I just put my knuckles to the wall and I work.”

All of the African-American women on TV these days: “It feels good that there’s not just one black person. I don’t like that we get fixated on one or two at a time, or three at a time. If you look at Caucasian Hollywood, every year there’s a handful of new faces you’ve never seen before, then after that, they got five movies coming out and they’re introducing you to more talent. So I’m just so happy to see what’s happening on television right now. We have options and that’s how it should be.”

On not comparing herself to other actresses: “If you don’t stay in your lane and you start looking around, you’ll go crazy. I use to have this crazy thing with Amy Adams, and I love Amy Adams. You see her [consistently] getting nominated, as she should, because Amy does good work. But, it’s like, ‘Well, I did good work too.’ But if you choose to stay in that place then you become miserable. It’s a pity party and nobody cares. I’m human, so I’ve done it. But I check that because it’s ego and it’s the devil.”

Her 20-year-old son Marcel: “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. 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.”

[From Uptown]

When Taraji talks about her career and how long it’s taken her to get to this point, she does remind me a bit of Viola Davis. I find Viola to be an inspirational person, but Viola is very sober and serious about the struggle whereas I think Taraji does see the glass as half-full. I mean, Taraji has worked consistently in film and TV for decades. She was always able to work, and she’s grateful for that. But she’s come into her own after decades and she’s enjoying it without reservations.

As for Taraji’s story about her son… well, she’s from Washington, DC. And she transferred into Howard when she was Marcel’s age too. I don’t doubt that her son was racially profiled or that he was stopped by the police for being black, but I kind of wonder if she always wanted Marcel to go to Howard in the first place. Plus, Howard University is an excellent school across the board.

Photos courtesy of Getty, Uptown.

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83 Responses to “Taraji P. Henson to send her son to an all-black college so he won’t be profiled”

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  1. lila fowler says:

    With her on the whole Amy Adams thing. It’s hard to dislike her because she seems like a decent, hard-working person but some of her nominations are just like, wtf? I think she has veered into the over-nominated category. As for her son transferring colleges, I unfortunately think he’s going to be profiled anywhere he goes in this country.

    • Imo says:

      She was specific about it being on campus.

    • Schwizzle says:

      Me too. I like her, but I just don’t get it. If you look at all her noms and then look at the winners, you think, “Really?” It’s not same level stuff. Then again the Awards are a racket anyway, so who cares.

    • Kate says:

      I think Amy has deserved every one of her nominations and she’s a perfect example of the way we turn on women and try to tear them down (or say they are unworthy) when they achieve too much success. We are always looking for ways to say that a woman doesn’t deserve what they have achieved and I don’t play that game. And it’s clear neither does this woman who seemed to recognize that her jeolousy was unfair and misplaced. Great article.

      • GoNatural says:

        Here Here, Kate!! Enough already, right? We’re our own worst enemies. Time we supported each other instead of tearing each other down.

      • Magawisca says:

        Sigh. Do you not understand white privilege? Adams is awesome, but her whiteness makes her visible in a way that worthy “other” women are not. Jesus, where did you two go to undergrad?

      • Kate says:

        @Mag. I have a PhD, thanks. From an Ivy League school. And I’m Latina. And nowhere in my post did I imply that any of the white actresses don’t have white privilege nor that this woman doesn’t deserve equal accolades. But the comments above weren’t about the way actresses of color are often denied equal attention —they were simply talking an opportunity to crap all over Amy and talk about how unworthy she is. And that was not the point of Ms. Henson’s comment. It was a co-opt of an actual conversation about race turned into petty “she’s not worthy” nonsense and I’m not playing that game nor do I think that was remotely the point of her original quote. So thanks for your concern about my “undergrad” education. I’ll be on the corner with my Doctorate.

      • truetalk says:

        Taraji is not saying Amy didn’t deserve her nominations, she’s saying she deserves the same recognition because she’s “doing good works TOO”

  2. Junior says:

    It’s certainly easier to avoid microagressions and other cross-cultural unpleasantness when we segregate ourselves into all-female, all-black, all-white, all-Jewish, Christian or Muslim schools. At the same time, I wonder what kind of cross-cultural enrichment we’re missing out on. We all have to live in a diverse world when school is over.

    • Imo says:

      You’re assuming that historically black colleges and universities don’t encourage, provide and embrace opportunities to explore diversity and multiculturalism. These fine institutions of higher learning are not just isolated microcosms of racial and ethnic xenophobia.

      • QQ says:

        and they indeed accept all races It is just that they started as a way to make a way for black people when there was No way

        I Love this chick though! So Much! Love Cookie too

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I’m pretty sure I’ve read (very recently) that for example women who attend all-female schools and universities perform much better later on. I’d have to google that again but I’m positive that I’ve read this numerous times. It does make sense. If you don’t have to constantly fight, if you can focus on the academic aspect of things, if you have time to build self-esteem away from a lot of the negative treatment you receive based on being a minority (I’m counting women here, too), you might be better equipped to take on what’s next. Plus, people still live in the real world. It’s not like someone who goes to an all-black college never experiences profiling at all.

      • Amy says:

        They do, that was part of the reason my Father wanted me to attend on. Sadly those micro aggressions can make big impacts when it comes to effecting someone’s schooling and future career. I’ll likely send my children to all boys or all girls schools when the time comes.

      • lucy2 says:

        That’s what I was wondering too, if the other environment was affecting his studies, he might be better suited for a school where that’s not an issue and he can really focus on his academics. That sucks he had to go through this, but best of luck to him at his new school.

      • mayamae says:

        I once watched a documentary that discussed boys getting more teacher attention than girls. There were teachers who argued that they give attention equally, only to break into tears when shown the truth on camera.

        It’s tempting to send a girl to an all girl school. Studies have shown that boys are more likely to raise their hands, even when unsure of the answer, whereas girls tend to only raise their hands when they’re absolutely certain of the answer. Therefore, they’re called on more often. And since boys are three times more likely to suffer from ADHD, they suck up teacher time with corrections.

      • StripedSea says:

        I get your point, and I actually thought about the idea of going to an “all-[fill in the blank]” college but then I wondered about how that would prepare me (or fail to) in the real world. I can spend 4 years surrounded by only women, or by those of the same religious background, or same race, and build up my self esteem and really find myself, but then how do I cope when I get into corporate America and I’m surrounded by mostly men who are quick to shut me out, shut me down, take credit for my work and my ideas, treat me like I’m incompetent, etc.? Isn’t it better to learn how to fight that battle in a collegiate atmosphere while also learning the skills that will lead to a career? I mean, that “negative treatment you receive based on being a minority” comes right back into play once the mortarboard and gown are put away and I’m punching in on a 9-to-5. I really wish there was a better way; it seems like an exclusionary environment kind of lulls one into a false sense of security that will likely never be experienced again once the college days are over.

      • Imo says:

        Striped Sea
        Since the world is a cold, unfair place why don’t we prepare small children for it by treating them with cold unfairness? Since many people are rude and unkind why don’t we teach our children to be rude and unkind? We don’t. We create positive, nurturing environments for them in order to imbue them with sense of self and worthiness they will need to cope with and counter the uglier realities of life. To do otherwise would be a disservice.
        Those who attend same (fill in the blank) schools have the best of both worlds. They grow and flourish in an enriched and bespoke academic and social environment. But they also have the benefit of faculty and staff who have successfully navigated and thrived under the very same difficult circumstances their students will face. They are given the tools to excel by the very individuals who demonstrated that it can be done. More importantly, a student who is taught to value herself and her spectrum of contribution is far less likely to accept the notion that it deserves to be diminished. Therefore she is not only a self advocate but a champion and a leader as well.

      • mazzie says:

        I went to all-girl schools in a country where I was the majority. When I went to university in Canada, I did notice a difference in how men and women were in class.

  3. Kiddo says:

    The old time Hollywood glamor is strong on that cover. Extraordinarily beautiful and iconic imagery.

  4. Santia says:

    Unless Marcel is going to live in a bubble the rest of his life, he will be profiled at some point. Yes, Howard is an excellent school, so it’s great that he’s going there regardless, but to say that he’s going so as to not get profiled … eh.

    Other than that, I think it’s amazing that her son is going to college and getting educated. So many of these little rich kids think education is passe.

    • FingerBinger says:

      Being the first person in your family to go to college is amazing. The son of an actress going to college isn’t that amazing.

    • Kim1 says:

      He will be profiled everytime he goes off campus.What’s wrong with having a space where you don’t have to deal with “walking while Black”.A place where you are not questioned why you are there or treated like a suspect.He still gets to interact with people of different races and cultures .HU is not an all Black school.

      • Amy says:

        This? Instead of saying, “Life will kick you in the teeth so get your fill in while you’re young!” we should probably be seeking ways to let children develop in safe environments where they won’t be beaten to a pulp for small transgressions by overzealous authority.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      When profiling comes along with getting killed more frequently, I can’t really judge someone for wanting to avoid that situation as much as possible.

      First part of being a parent is protecting the safety of your child. Can’t say as I blame her. These are real threats our fellow citizens face every day.

  5. Bridget says:

    Did you guys known Mo’nique was originally supposed to be on the cover?

  6. Happy21 says:

    There is actually such thing as an all black college? In this day and age? Is there also all white colleges? I can only imagine the upheaval if there were a college you had to be white to attend…

    • Santia says:

      I think they are called “historically” Black colleges. As in from the time when schools were segregated and blacks HAD to attend separate colleges. Now, the majority of the student body is of color, but anyone can matriculate.

      • Imo says:

        PS and yes, they actually qualify for minority status and can receive financial aid.

      • ozmom says:

        That’s what i thought but the headline states he’s attending an all back college so it’s confusing at best

    • Imo says:

      For your information anyone of any race can attend any historically black college or university in this country. So no baiting please.

    • Kiddo says:

      Anyone can apply to Howard University, but nice try.

    • FingerBinger says:

      There are all black colleges and universities because black people weren’t allowed into colleges. Btw there are all white schools.

    • RhiRhi says:

      let me guess, you are white.

    • SU says:

      Google is your friend.

      In the time it took you to type that foolish statement you could have looked up the history of HBCUs.

      Don’t be so obtuse.

    • Beachbum says:

      I was confused as well when I read the headline.

    • Briamatia says:

      My brother is the whitest country boy from Northern California and he goes to Howard, studying Actuarial studies. It is a good school, period. The race relations in this country or lack there of is truly mind boggling. I have lived out of the states for the past eight years, and seeing and reading what is going on is infuriating. Get your sh$t together America-it is 2015.

      • Anna says:

        @Briamatia every country has issues with race-relations and is filled with anti-blackness. It’s not just the USA, so to focus only on them when speaking about living out of America as if there aren’t the same/similar problems (to varying degrees) elsewhere is problematic.

      • Briamatia says:

        @Anna I am currently based in Mozambique but frequently work in South Africa. I am FULLY aware of the world’s issues with race-Mozambique gained its independence from the Portuguese IN 1974 and we are only 20 years since the Apartheid. As an American living outside the United States I have every right to critique my countries domestic policies and the way in which race relations are being played out. While they are not unique, the United States, was built on the backs of stolen African citizens, and institutional racism NEEDS to be put under a magnifying glass. Also whether America or Americans like it, our culture is pervasive-therefore why shouldn’t we be setting a better example?

    • Happy21 says:

      Wow! I’m not in the USA, I’m in Canada and I was curious that is all. No baiting, no hating and just a question. That is all. No need to get so defensive but thank you for jumping all over me for having a simple question. I misunderstood – that is it. Yikes!

      • Anna says:

        People “jumped all over you” because your comment quite foolish since you tried to compare schools that were founded to give Black people a chance at higher education to racist, segregated schools.
        Not sure what being from Canada has to do with anything though. I’m from Canada and know exactly what Howard University is and what a historically black college means.

      • mazzie says:

        Yeah, being Canadian isn’t an excuse. I am as well and know about Howard University and HBCs.

      • fruitloops says:

        So since you two (Anna and mazzie) know then obviously every Canadian knows?
        (Btw, I am from Europe and this is the first time I’ve heard about something like an all black college, unless of course being European is also not an excuse since probably there are some Europeans who know about the matter)

      • Happy21 says:

        Okay. I guess I’ll have to admit that I am totally ignorant to the whole concept. I had no idea that there existed these schools but I do now. I guess I won’t make uneducated comment about such a thing again. Being in Canada doesn’t have anything to do with it, I don’t pay attention to these things, guess I live in my little bubble. Nonetheless, I meant no harm to anyone. And no, I’m not white. I’m not black either but the colour of my skin means nothing. I’m a person and apparently I spoke out of turn to begin with and should have kept my mouth shut. Peace 🙂

      • Kiddo says:

        Whether you knew or not, this part ” I can only imagine the upheaval if there were a college you had to be white to attend… ” was a troll. “I’m from Canada I don’t know any better” just doesn’t pass muster with that sentence also inserted.

      • Amy says:

        Thank you Kiddo because the walk back from the ‘college you had to be white to attend’ comment just isn’t cutting it, so either you were genuinely uninformed Happy and simply eagerly trying to be offended or you knew and didn’t realize so many people would call you out.

      • Happy21 says:

        I was genuinely uninformed and that’s all I’m going to say about it. I posted a stupid comment and apologized for being uneducated and uniformed about the subject and you can think that I posted it for whatever reason you may. Take it as my trolling or what have you it doesn’t matter to me because I know what I meant and that I meant no offence by the comment and that’s enough for me. I’m not going to spend anymore time today by trying to remove my foot from my mouth.

      • Kiddo says:

        Happy21, it’s over. You’d have to do something really terrible to get me to hold a grudge against you and you haven’t met that high threshold.

      • ozmom says:

        Not sure why folks are jumping all over Happy21 for asking the question. The headline and article state it is an all black college.

      • Kiddo says:

        ozmom, I’m not repeating this to pile on to Happy21, but simply to clarify the original objection, for you, it was this comment: ” I can only imagine the upheaval if there were a college you had to be white to attend”. The implication being, although perhaps not intended, that there would be some form of unfairness or prejudice/racism directed at white people by black people, if there was a largely black university, as if the two have been on equal standing in consideration. If you look historically at colleges in the US, even at recent history, there WERE/ARE predominately white institutions, although they weren’t/aren’t called that.

      • India Andrews says:

        People on the internet can jump on folks for having questions whose answers they think should be obvious to everyone. Keep your chin up. Happens to everyone at one point and then another. The only way to avoid it 100% of the time would be to avoid the internet comments boards entirely. Don’t do it. We need people in the public space with differing views and asking questions. Don’t let peoples’ condescending responses get you down.

        Have to admit, when I read the headline I was like, “Huh? Why not get on with the interacting with the wider world in college? Great practice for work after graduation.” I can see the appeal to someone if you feel like a fish out of water most of the time to have that bubble for four years to fortify yourself.

        FYI. I went to Howard’s site. Yes, there are other racial groups on campus but they only make up 7% of the student body. The other 93% of the student body is African-American. Not the most diverse place to attend school. Even Harvard is more diverse with 13% of its students African-American and overall 47% of its student body non-Caucasian.

    • Kim1 says:

      It is not an all Black college.It was started because Blacks were not allowed to attend ” all white ” schools.Non Blacks attend every HBCU that I am familiar with.

  7. Jenny says:

    People who “aren’t about awards,” usually never won or ever will.
    I would never want to go to school or just be around people of my color. We have to be together in the world.

    • jaye says:

      Just because someone goes to an HBCU doesn’t mean they don’t still experience how multicultural the world is. Also, as a couple of people upthread have stated, ANYONE can matriculate at an HBCU. I went to one and although the student body was mostly black, there was a small percentage of non-black students. That’s no different than a lot of schools that aren’t historically black.

    • Amy says:

      Lol, and it’s their fault?

      The woman has a point. I see 50 new white teenage ‘actresses’ appear every year telling me how amazing their acting is and then in the interim there’s maybe 5 minority girls in 5 years that rise to any prominence?

      But yeah it’s totally their fault if they don’t win awards, not a symptom of anything. Nope.

  8. bondbabe says:

    Her son looks a lot like Todd Bridges from Diff’rent Strokes.

  9. InvaderTak says:

    I miss her on person of interest. Just not the same without her but i can see why she left. Love the cover.

    Sorta off topic but related: wasn’t Howard the college that was in possession of the Barnes art collection at one point?

    • lucy2 says:

      I miss her on that show too, but I am loving her as Cookie. The characters are SO different! Glad she got this new role, and I think she’s going to get nominated for it.

    • Santia says:

      Her whole situation with POI gives me hope. I remember how hurt she was when she got killed off. Little did she know that a little show called “Empire” was about take off and make her a superstar.

  10. Amy says:

    She is STUNNING on that cover. I’m also really enjoying seeing someone who put in the work blossom and have their recognition grow. Empire is everything.

    I also have to agree with her comments about Amy Adams. Yes Amy is nice and talented, but she’s not the only nice talented actress. But we all know… Or how media becomes fixated on one black actor only to use him till his peak without opening doors for others. I read an article titled something like, “Idris Alba is not the only black actor” that explored this point well.

  11. NYer says:

    So she’s gonna send her son to school in a city where 8 of every 10 adults arrested are black, where “in 2010, the equivalent of 30 percent of the District’s adult male population were arrested, compared with 2 percent of the white residents.”


    • Imo says:

      I just can’t.

    • Amy says:

      Lol, and we all know police neeeevvvverrrr bother someone if they’re not absolutely 100% guilty. All the protests happening and findings released from the Justice Department are all marshmallow fluff!

    • Anna says:

      It’s hard to find a place in the country where the statistics aren’t like for black people. Bringing up (essentially) citywide stats for racial profiling doesn’t really have anything to do with what she said about her son being at college. Taraji clearly knows that her son will be a victim of racism anywhere he goes but if he goes to a college where he isn’t the one of the ten black people on campus, he has a better chance at having a safer COLLEGE experience.

      • AlmondJoy says:

        “Taraji clearly knows that her son will be a victim of racism anywhere he goes but if he goes to a college where he isn’t the one of the ten black people on campus, he has a better chance at having a safer COLLEGE experience.”

        Thank you, Anna. This about sums it up as succinctly as possible. Not sure why this is hard to understand.

      • NYer says:

        When was the last time you were on a college campus? And saw 10 or fewer black people??

  12. tinyfencer says:

    Ok, I know this is shallow, but my takeaway from this is that I cannot believe she’s old enough to have a college age son. She looks like his slightly older sister, not his mom. I hope I age that beautifully.

  13. ¡mire usted! says:

    Her son should be at Howard University for a variety of reasons. The main one is it’s a great school. I’m a little bias. My father is a retired Howard professor. Go Bisons! No, I didn’t go there. Who wants to be a student where your Dad teaches? I would have to actually go to class, you know? LOL Instead I want to University of Maryland College Park. I grew up no far from Taraji in “affluent” Montgomery County Maryland – just outside DC. I love that she always proudly tells the press she grew up in Southeast DC. She’s pretty and talented but she’s tough too!

  14. hello says:

    I have no problem with this so long as everyone is OK with the fact that I would like to send my child to an only white school.

  15. Crumpet says:

    Is that supposed to be the same woman in those photos? Wow.

  16. taxi says:

    I first saw her in POI & really liked her. I now like her less for comparing herself with Amy Adams. Adams is known for film, not TV, and had lots of leading roles. Henson’s comparison is presumptuous.

    I don’t care where she sends her kid to school. All parents want the best academic & school environments for their kids.

    • Ahot says:

      Taraji is a trained actress & was nominated for an Oscar already….& it was not her first movie role. So yes, she has every right to compare herself with Amy.

      • taxi says:

        In 2009, both Adams and Henson were nominated for supporting roles, along with Viola Davis & Marisa Tomei, all of whom “lost” to Penelope Cruz. Adams has done a lot more film work, in larger roles, than Henson.

  17. Jess says:

    Love that photoshoot – she looks amazingly beautiful! And glad she’s talking about racial profiling. A lot of white people don’t realize just how common (and awful) profiling is for people of color.

  18. Adele Dazeem says:

    I haven’t read any of the posts so forgive me if this has already been discussed and answered. You will also have to forgive me for my naivety but I don’t live in America. So, are there seriously universities in America that are purely for African-Americans? There are seriously all-black colleges?? Or is it that any one from any background/race can attend, but they (eg. Howard University) tend to attract a majority of African-American students?

    I can only imagine it is legally the latter?

    OK, I’ve just read some comments above – thanks for clearing it up for me.

  19. Jenna says:

    I love Taraji! I got to spend a few hours with her years ago when she was filming Talk To Me. I was an extra and got to sit beside her for a while and we chatted. She’s super nice!!! I’m so glad to see her do well in her field.